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Home Boxing

Boxing Editorials

JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

Adrien Broner vs. Shawn Porter
I am happily surprised that Broner would take this fight.  He is already not doing well with his own punching power at 140 and 147, therefore to move back up to 147 facing a strong iron-chinned opponent like Porter shows tremendous confidence in his boxing skills.  Porter's loss to Brook is looking highly forgiveable these days, plus he is the type of fighter who is beaten by a certain level of focus that Broner has not yet shown.  The single shot power is not there, but the physical strength is.  I think this will be a long night for "The Problem" where he ironically fails to find a solution, at least not in time.  Porter by MD.

Nicholas Walters vs. Manuel Marriaga
The Walters train really increased in MPH after his KO wins over Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire, but Lomachencko has since dazzled us twice with his boxing ability.  The Jamaican star needs a great performance, and Marriaga gets the chance to provide just that.  Walters showed his solid chin after being caught flush by Donaire (something that usually ends fights), so one shot will not do it for the fierce Colombian.  Marriaga's only win of note was over Chris Martin, which would be impressive, except that Martin was a half step into retirement, and had nothing left.  Too many Colombian bangers have been exposed in this country, for me to believe in Manuel.  Walter by KO, probably inside 7 rounds.

Jessie Vargas vs. Timothy Bradley
This fight actually has a chance at being entertaining, as neither man packs much of a wallop, but each has been known to brawl a bit.  Vargas has been ripe for a fall for a long time, however, and has benefitted from friendly judging.  Bradley is noticeably slipping, having fought everyone in Top Rank's stable, and he needs to search for motivation.  The cold war being over could provide it.  Thurman, Khan, even Mayweather himself may await, if Bradley is victorious.  Vargas is unbeaten, but is already struggling a level below this opposition.  Bradley by UD.

David Lemieux vs. Hassan N'Dam
If all the Canadian still has is power, he is going to have a long night here.  N'Dam has shown the heart to keep getting up when hurt, and he has beaten big punchers before (Stevens).  I find this one hard to call because of that question... how much has Lemieux gained since his losses to Alcine and Rubio?  If Golden Boy thought this would be their GGG, I think they are sadly mistaken, as there are many holes in the young fighter's game.  N'Dam looks motivated, but I don't think he will stay on his feet enough, and the Canadian judges will give every close round to the hometown hero.  Lemieux by decision, in an entertaining scrap.

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JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

Miguel Cotto vs. Daniel Geale
This fight is not doing much to help Cotto's claim to the middleweight throne.  Geale is a former unified champion, and his first two losses were disputed 12 round decisions (one avenged).  Therefore this would be a great challenge if not for two things: the public was expecting GGG or Canelo, and GGG just anhiliated Geale.  Therefore, this is a waste of time.  However, Cotto's well-timed rise to 160lbs should have probably ended with Martinez and Rodriguez.  I do not believe he has as much left as everyone thinks.  He could very easily outbox Geale, on class alone, but I think he is just too far past his prime, and does not fight in a style that will bother a motivated top 10 challenger.  I am picking the upset, and Geale by close 12 round decision.

Delvin Rodriguez vs. Erislandy Lara
Speaking of Rodriguez, Lara is hoping he can pull a Cotto and look scintillating against the Connecticut journeyman.  Rodriguez, like Lara, has been robbed before... in fact many more times, yet I don't think he has enough left to force Lara into an entertaining scrap.  The Cuban boxing school will be in session, and Rodriguez will be following him around, doing a lot of missing.  Lara by UD or late TKO in a fairly dull affair.  Even if there is a stoppage, it will likely not be an exciting one.

Deontay Wilder vs. Eric Molina
I hope there is a big football game on after this fight, because Alabama sports fans will have a lot to cheer about, yet not much to watch.  The Stiverne fight was necessary to showcase Wilder's skills and next level acumen, but he needs a big KO in his inaugural defense, to remind us why we watched him in the first place.  Enter Molina.  He will be brave, but little else.  I am still wondering what he did to get a top 15 ranking.  Wilder by brutal KO, within 3 rounds.

Andre Ward vs. Paul Smith
Ok, I get it.  He needs a tune-up, and Oakland fans will show up to see Ward, no matter what.  There is not much info of what to expect from Smith, but he will be motivated, and unless Ward is very rusty, completely ineffective.  Prepare for Ward to put on a defensive display, and have all his old moves back by round 5.  The only possible surprises could be Ward suddenly trusting in his right hand, and showing power, but Smith had shown durability against Abraham, even if that does happen  If anything, that right hand would just make it more dominant.  Ward by wide UD.

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BEST SCENARIO FOR ALMOST EVERYONE

BEST SCENARIO FOR ALMOST EVERYONE

The Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland fight definitely did rinse out the bad taste left in the mouths of fight fans after Mayweather-Pacquiao became exactly what we all expected it to be. This is not to say the mainstream fans will even notice.  They are quite comfy and cozy in their disdainful "boxing is dead" speech that gets dusted off every decade or so.  Meanwhile, us die-hards finally got this generation's Hagler-Hearns.  Now, its true that Kirkland may never even win a world title, much less be a hall of famer, but as far as non-stop punching for 3 rounds, where chin made all the difference, this was as close as we have gotten to that legendary fight, 30 years ago.  

I'd like to congratulate all involved for their piece of this beautiful puzzle that came together.  Thanks for Alvarez, for remaining calm under Kirkland's assault, and delivering pinpoint accurate power-punches.  Not since his one-punch KO of former undisputed welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir has he looked so fearsome.  Thanks to Kirkland for continuing his pressure assault, after his predictably bad opening round.  He came back from bad first rounds against Angulo, Tapia, and others, but could not do so against Ishida, or Canelo.    Yet, he knew nothing was to be gained from holding on for dear life, so he gave himself the best chance to win, by moving forward.

Thanks to Ann Wolfe, for allowing herself to be a part of the promotion, even though she was not part of the fight.  This opens the door for Kirkland to return, even though there wasn't much she could have done for Kirkland on this night.  Kirkland's promoter 50 cent even said it was his goal to get them back together.  Perhaps a title shot against Andrade or Bundrage may be in order.  He's certainly earned it more than the Charlo brothers, and after last Saturday, probably has more fans in Houston than they or Lara (who all make their homes there).  Thanks also to referee Jon Schorle.  Had the fight taken place with many other referees (Pat Russell, Terry O"Conner, Jose Cobian, etc.) it would have certainly been waved off towards the end of the first.  Schorle (who has blown calls in Kirkland fights before... i.e. Molina) instead let it continue, and the fans got 2 more rounds of great action.

Thanks to HBO for airing the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight prior to the bout, so fans can see the full contrasts that boxing offers.  Thanks to Frankie Gomez for not making weight.  His fight with Soto would have certainly been forgotten if sandwiched between those two giants, and now Gomez' ridiculously slow development can continue where it belongs... on smaller cable channels.  Thanks to Max Kellerman for asking the hard hitting questions of Canelo, namely about Cotto and GGG.  Canelo did not exactly call out Golovkin, but definitely said he wanted to fight him.  "Not next" is everyone's answer to GGG, but Canelo is the only one whose actions have backed up his words in taking tough fights.

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MIDDLEWEIGHT MESS

MIDDLEWEIGHT MESS

Ok, many divisions could benefit from a cleaning-house style tournament, but probably none more than middleweight.  It is a giant mess right now, and only seems to be getting worse.  There are top fighters in the division, and many more coming in soon.  However, the agendas and promotional backings could not be more different.  First, I will break down the problem, and my idea for a solution as well.  Let it never be said that I simply gripe, when I could help out.  

As of now the players are: Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, James Kirkland, Daniel Geale, Mayweather, Jorge Sebastian Heiland, Peter Quillin, Daniel Jacobs, Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, and Andy Lee.  There are more, but these are the ones that will be forced upon us by mandatories and sanctioning bodies, as well as previous fame.  Taylor, Stevens, Macklin, Monroe, and others may find a way in, but as of now, they are out of range.

 If Canelo beats Kirkland, I'd love it if he skipped Cotto/Geale winner, and called out Golovkin.  He's the only big name who seems willing to face GGG, and Cotto-GGG will not happen.  Should Cotto lose to Geale, nobody wants to see GGG-Geale 2.  This would free up Mayweather to jump to 160 to make history by fighting the linear champion, even if everyone knows they are avoiding the true number one contender.  If Mayweather vs. Geale or Cotto is being fought around the same time as Canelo-GGG, which fight do you think fans will consider for the real middleweight championship?

Speaking of Geale, I personally would love to see Geale retire Cotto.  Miguel has been a great fighter, but holding the middleweight title hostage should not be rewarded.  Geale has been the better man, or close to it, for every opponent except GGG, and the WBC is the one major belt he has not held.  He will most certainly land the big fight if he gets the win.  This may not happen easily, however.  Heiland is the WBC mandatory, but GGG is their Silver champion.  Confused?  You should be, because it is stupid.  If GGG beats Heiland this summer it will all be forgotten, but if not, then the WBC may further delay any big matches by forcing the winner to face Heiland.  Cotto will most certainly stall, or give up the belt.

Taylor's retirement and the IBF stalling puts Brooklyn fans are ready to see Quillin-Jacobs, finally.  Here is my plan for an 8-man tourney... including fights already scheduled.

Mayweather - stay at 147, face Thurman or Brook (Khan is ineligible, unless Mayweather pushes to November).
Canelo - Kirkland winner vs. Cotto - Geale winner
GGG vs Heiland
Quillin vs. Jacobs
Lee vs. N'Dam for  IBF/WBO belts

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MAYWEATHER - PACQUIAO RECAP

MAYWEATHER - PACQUIAO RECAP

So they fight of the century is over, and mainstream fans are complaining.  What a shock!  What were they expecting?  Had they ever seen Mayweather fight?  The days of the potential for Hagler-Hearns is over... as fighters do not take risks as much, and defense becomes a more sought after art.  Did we really expect fighters not to take notice of the fact that Mayweather and Klitschko, two fighters who barely get hit, are still on top of the sport after 19 years in the professional ranks?  Miguel Cotto said it best, "Are the fans going to take care of my family, if I die for them?"  And that is from a man who is fairly exciting.

So, the ridiculous expectations aside, boxing will survive this as it has everything else.  For the die hards, we have Canelo - Kirkland to look forward to, which will almost certainly be more exciting.  For the fight itself, it is still worth talking about, as Mayweather has joined Willie Pep, Roy Jones, and Pernell Whittaker in a rare ability, and that is to make other all-time greats look very ordinary.  Mayweather reduced Pacquiao's punch output from the very beginning, and no one can tell me that was part of any Freddie Roach master plan.  After landing a left hand in round 4, which briefly staggered Mayweather, Pacquiao's follow up barrage accomplished nothing.  Even though the fight was fairly even at that point, Pacquiao was already on plan C.

He landed at half the percentage he is used to landing, and threw less than half the punches he normally throws.  To see an offensive marvel like Pacquiao reduced to the effectiveness of a Robert Guerrero was indeed impressive.  The fact that it was done by a 38 year old man who has spent 17 years at the championship level was all the more astonishing.  Chavez and Azumah Nelson looking ordinary against Whittaker was pretty amazing, too, but at least Whittaker was near his peak when he did this.  Mayweather, unfortunately for his business model, dominated thoroughly, and did so in a non-thrilling fight.  Pacquiao knows it, too.

Don't believe his post-fight statements.  Manny has a boss, and that is Bob Arum.  He knew he won the Bradley fight, but he kept quiet, so Arum could legitimize the lousy decision, and force a big money rematch.  He knew he lost this fight, also, but Arum had him under gag order.  This way, they figure, he can rile up his fans by claiming robbery, and try to sell a rematch.  Not even bottom-line Bob can pull that off.  No one sane wants or needs to see a rematch.  The only question remains, where does Floyd go from here?  He cannot fight Khan in September, due to Khan's religious practices.  Without Thurman or Brook facing each other, the drawing power of each is very limited, at least compared to their risk.

The most likely case scenario is one that makes fight fans cringe.  Either a match with Geale-Cotto winner, or Danny Garcia.  Garcia has looked ordinary in the last year, but his "find a way to win" abilities are high, as are Floyd's, and his "0" may be used to sell that fight.  If Cotto or Geale want to avoid GGG, and both would surely do so, Floyd could technically fight for the "legit" middleweight title, and retire on top... handing the division over to Golovkin without fighting him.  I still do not fully believe Floyd will retire at 49-0.  He must go for that elusive 50.  One thing is fairly certain, however... he will not go for it against Golovkin.

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MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland
This fight is being put together for 3 reasons.  1: Floyd-Manny has a high risk of being a stink-fest, and this fight will most certainly bring casual boxing fans and even die-hards back to the table to cleanse their palate.  2: Canelo has earned his reputation lately as someone who will take on anyone, and his star power will survive a loss or bad performance.  He needs to take on someone scary, and Cotto would not fight him. 3: We need to see how Canelo will do against a power-punching pressure fighter, if we are going to make him a Golvokin opponent later.  This is a style he has not really taken on yet.  Angulo had no pop in his punches, and Josesito Lopez was too small.  This is the first time a big strong, power-punching man similar in size to Canelo, will be coming at him.  Will his supposedly iron chin still hold up?  I believe chin is only one of the differences that matter.  Imagine all the trouble Carlos Molina's head movement gave Kirkland, from a fighter who can also punch.  That is Canelo.  It will be fun while it lasts, but I think this is the first fight in which Kirkland is the one being broken down.  Canelo by KO, either by pouncing in round 1 (Kirkland's weakest round), or gradually by round 8.

Gennady Golovkin vs. Willie Monroe
Sure, this seems like a stay busy fight for GGG, and it may be that.  However, Monroe is no joke, and it is a new style for which we have not seen GGG have to adjust.  Monroe's sick counter-punching style can make a pressure fighter look bad.  The Philly fighter's only loss was to Darnell Boone.  The same Boone who beat Adonis Stevenson, dropped Andre Ward, and held Kovalev to a close fight.  He has only gotten better since then, and has never come close to being stopped.  This is the first fighter that may have a chance of winning rounds against Golovkin... before being caught.  Again, the relentless pressure provided by GGG is one that calls on an opponent to fight the perfect defensive fight.  It's just too big of a leap for Monroe, and I don't think it will take long.  GGG by 5th round KO, probably on body shots.

Omar Figueroa vs. Ricky Burns
I am very happy to see this fight... first because it appears that Figueroa and Burns will finally not have weight issues, then because Burns finally is leaving the comforts of his hometown, and finally because it should be a great fight.  This would have been a lightweight unification match a couple years back.  Each man is durable, strong, and although Burns does not have a knock out record, he has deceptive power.  Figueroa has the edge, though, and that is why Burns is taking this fight.  He is coming off of several bad showings in a row, and needs a big win.  He also may be cashing out here, being the underdog.  If he looks good on US-TV, however, we may pay him well to be a high-level gatekeeper.  Figueroa by UD or late TKO on cuts, in a brawl.

Amir Khan vs. Chris Algieri
Ok, so no one is excited about this fight.  Khan is trying to kill time until Pacquiao or Mayweather fight him.  While he may get the loser if he wins this fight, he will not have earned the winner.  Brook and Thurman are the unbeaten scary contenders at 147, and until they either face each other, or beat Khan, no one is clamoring for the big two to face any of them.  This fight can only hurt Khan, not help him at all.  He won't even have all of the crowd in his back-pocket, as native NY-er Algieri will have his fans.  This proves to be another long dominant decision win for a very gifted offensive fighter.  It is also yet another fight, where Khan won't have to answer any questions about his chin at 147lbs.  Algieri will try to counter, but will not handle being the slower fighter very well.  Khan by wide UD.

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MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

Takahiro Ao vs. Ray Beltran
Tru-TV (a network I was on for two years) is entering the boxing world.  Ray Beltran is receiving his third try at the WBO title.  He had the bad luck of being screwed against Burns in the Scotsman's backyard.  Then, he went to Crawford's backyard to be beaten legitimately.  This time, the Phoenix transplant should have the crowd on his side in Vegas.  Ao is a former WBC champ at 126 and 130 lbs, but needed some friendly judging and careful matchmaking to retain that status.  He does, however, possess quality legitimate wins over high-level opponents, and has never been stopped.  Ao does not possess the power to keep a bull like Beltran off of him, and that will ultimately prove his undoing.  Beltran by 8-4 UD, in an entertaining scrap.Andre

Dirrell vs. James DeGale
This is a tough one to call... mainly because Dirrell has been a question mark for the last 5 years since his head injury suffered in a win over Arthur Abraham.  DeGale is on a hot streak, and winning in very impressive fashion.  If this was the Dirrell of the Froch and Abraham fights, he would be favored, however, he is a question mark, who is facing a man coming off early KO wins.  Those wins, over Periban and Gonzales, were impressive not only for who he was beating, but how he was doing it.  The money is shifting overseas at 168, and I think DeGale will only add to it.  Dirrell's boxing skills will frustrate him at first, but the new Andre slugs a bit, and that will not work out well.  DeGale by come from behind KO, probably by round 9.Alexander

Povetkin vs. Mike Perez
These are two men who in a thin heavyweight division have both gotten respect and lost it, at different times.  Yet, both the Russian and Cuban are live dogs in any fight, due to their amateur pedigree, chin, and boxing skills.  However, Povetkin's schooling and experience is far superior to that of Perez.  He is also a bit more removed from his worst experiences in the ring.  Not so for Perez, who had a tragic win over Abdulasamov, and has not won a fight since.  Povetkin by UD.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather
Ok, the big one.  I should devote a whole article to this, but believe it or not, everyone knows.  This fight's back story is more famous than the individual fighters themselves.  So, let's just break it down.  Each man is not only a huge draw, but each other's worst nightmare stylistically.  Pacquiao's trouble with defensive counter-punchers exists on varying levels.  Algieri barely bothered him, Marquez gave him fits, but ultimately lot more rounds than he won.  With Floyd, he should win round after round over the Filipino superstar.  However, Pacquiao's volume punching and recuperative powers are a bad fit for Floyd's one at a time approach.  Odds are Floyd will control the tempo, but let many rounds get stolen by Pacquiao's bursts and rallies.  Each man is more careful now than they have ever been, so do not expect the next Hagler-Hearns, but an 8-4 win for Floyd, that at least one judge scores too close, and maybe one even scores too wide.

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SUPERMAN'S KRYPTONITE?

SUPERMAN'S KRYPTONITE?

Ok, I know everyone is assuming Sergey Kovalev or Artur Beterbiev will walk right through Stevenson if they catch him, but I gotta say I am not so sure.  Adonis clearly showed he can take a punch better than his reputation, as he walked straight through Bika's shots.  Now, Pascal is iron chinned, and Kovalev still knocked him out, so I am not saying this result won't happen.  However, if you think it is happening the first time Sergey lands, you are in for a surprise.  And Stevenson was able to drop Bika twice, an iron-chinned opponent.  Beterbiev and Kovalev have both been dropped early by far lesser fighters.  Add to that, Stevenson is a fast starter, and we could have a much more even fight indeed.

What I am saying is that the crunching power and average chin may exist on all 3 men's arsenals, and when that is even, we are left with boxing skills.  Kovalev has already shown he possesses them, and is maturing.  Stevenson, while limited in his punch selection, is quite advanced in his timing, placement, and use of a mixed attack.  His lateral movement and punch selection reminds me of Sergio Martinez.  However, Beterbiev is being rushed.  He knocks out a couple of shot former champs, and people are getting far too excited.  He does have intelligence and crunching power, but he is not ready for either Sergey or Adonis, and to rush him would be a mistake.  If I am Superman Stevenson, I would take that fight tomorrow.  He would likely win it, and it would silence all the critics who say he is running from tough fights.  

He will have beaten the second biggest perceived threat to him, while Kovalev was fulfilling a useless mandatory against Mohamedi.  This is a big money fight anyway, but Stevenson would not be dismissed after he lost to Kovalev (if he does), if he had taken the Beterbiev fight.  Odds are that he will instead take a useless tune-up or mandatory... or even a Chavez Jr fight if JC wins, but looks bad (which he likely will) against Fonfara.  This is too frequent a plan in boxing today, and it is dulling the luster of what was starting out as an exciting year.  It still is an exciting year, with network TV back in the mix, and Mayweather-Pacquiao happening, but the middle of the year is being dogged by a bad-looking drop-off.  

Khan is avoiding Brook, and Quigg-Frampton are avoiding each other, while Rigo looks for opponents.  What happened to Quillin vs Jacobs?  What happened to Wilder vs. Fury?  What happened to Lomachenko vs. Walters?  We seem to be hearing a lot of nothing regarding those fights.  Many of them involve Haymon and/or Arum, who are famous for delaying the fights that the public wants to see, but I hope we do not lose Stevenson-Kovalev for the same reason.  I never thought I'd say it, but at least the WBC is trying to force men like Stevenson and Cotto (both champs, but not number 1 in their division) to face the number 1 guy.  A sanctioning body on the side of right?  A boxing first, for sure.

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CHIN GOT BETTER WITH WEIGHT

CHIN GOT BETTER WITH WEIGHT

There have been times where a fighter can be unfairly labeled as "chinny", as the Brits would say.  Wladimir Klitschko comes to mind as a fighter who seems to have a better chin than his reputation.  This is equally true of durability.  Mike Tyson was solid chinned, yet all of his losses were by KO, so power eventually affected him.  There are also fighters whose chins get worse as their careers progressed.

 This was true of 80's fighters: Doug DeWitt and Gerrie Coetzee, who had the reputation span from iron to glass, within only a few years.  However, the oddest of phemonena, seems to be fighters who handled punches better from bigger fighters, as they moved up in weight.  This is counter to all we are led to believe about human physiology, yet there have been a few big-name modern examples:

Thomas Hearns - the Hitman's chin was never labeled as iron, nor the weakest, however his brutal KO losses occurred from 147-160 lbs.  His high level of opposition could be blamed for his Leonard and Hagler defeats, however, this does not explain Barkley.  It also does not account for the fact that Hearns seemed to be able to absorb punches better from 168 to 190lbs.  This was even true of the same opponents.  Leonard and Barkley hurt Hearns at 147 and 160lbs, respectively, yet could not come close to stopping him at 168 and 175.  In fact, even past his prime, against a big puncher like Uriah Grant, his only stoppage loss came due to a twisted ankle.

Amir Khan - Time will tell if this phemonenon applies fully to the former 140lb kingpin, but there has definitely been an improvement as he has gained weight.  Khan was knocked near cold by a journeyman at 135.  He was bothered by pressure and hurt against Maidana and Peterson, but still managed to win more rounds than his opponent.  Then he was stopped on his feet by Garcia.  At 147lbs, he has not even been dropped (Diaz fight was between weights).  True, Collazo and Alexander are not known as KO artists, but they have both scored one-punch KOs in their careers over high-level opposition, and yet, they could not even hurt Khan.  Not that I would expect him to stand-up to Pacquiao's bombs, but people who think Mayweather would so easily stop Khan, are probably in for a rude awakening.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

I hope that Chocolatito Román González is the real thing when he steps up to US TV.  He looks it, but remember, Iron Boy and Finito did not have many years left by the time we started looking.  I wonder if he'll do the smart thing like Lopez, and retire when he feels it start to go... or will he pull a Chavez or Olivares and stay around too long, when he could have had a fairly perfect career?  Only time, opportunities, and level of opposition will tell.
 
Speaking of level of opposition, I know GGG wants to stay busy, but one Geale, Macklin, or Murray per year is not enough anymore.  I know the cowardice of the other top US Middleweights is disheartening (Cotto taking on Bundrage after a year off, and Quillin-Jacobs not facing each other), but Willie Monroe is not ready for this shot.  I hope he loses in such a way that his career will be preserved, because all of the skills are there.
 
Speaking of losing well, Peterson is the exact wrong style to bother Danny Garcia.  Sure, Garcia won't flatten Peterson like Matthysse did, but Swift is bothered by boxing skills from men who do not try to walk him down.  Herrera and Khan.  There's a reason why he is not facing Broner.  Ironically Herrera has trouble with boxers, too, and/or other light hitters like himself: Dallas, Mayfield, Alvarado, and Pendarvis.  Notice Herrera is not calling out Algieri or Vargas, as he would likely lose to them, legitimately.  Many of these men have already faced each other, but the most exciting thing about 140lob division, is that styles make fights, and they could al beat each other in a big circle.  I hope they stay, and don't muddy up the picture at 147 even more.
 
Speaking of that picture, it is time for a tournament in the 147lb division.  The cold war is over, and there are just too many names.  It is not getting much clearer with time, either.  Whenever we think we are rid of someone, either to losses, or division changes, they come back: Berto, Maidana, Soto-Karass, Porter, etc.  It is time for a single elimination tournament between Thurman, Maidana, Berto, Porter, the winner of Dan-Brook, Garcia, Khan, and Bradley.
 

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140lb RECAP

140lb RECAP

With 3 major fights,last Saturday, I have to say, I am happy with the results of all 3.  Not just as a fan of all the winners, but of the results being without any controversy.  Some will say Provo deserved the decision against Matthysse, but they are wrong.  It was a great fight... probably not fight of the year, but very entertaining nonetheless.  However, Provodnikov will continue to lose close decisions like this to top fighters, if he doesn't move his hands more, and sharpen up his defense.  Matthysse clearly outlanded Provo, often controlled the pace, and generally it seems Ruslan's plan is simply to get outworked and steal the round with big punches.  

That plan is fine, if he hurts his opponents, but more often than not at this level, he is not doing so.  He is still vital, and should probably face Rios in another guaranteed slugfest, but he is out of the title picture for now.  Great win for Matthysse, and onward and upward he goes.  A rematch would be fine, but all it would do is delay Broner from having to face anyone real.  Peterson and Garcia are likely gone, and Jessie Vargas is one tough opponent away from being forgotten.  Crawford would probably beat all 3 of them, so something needs to happen between Matthysse and Broner now, if it is ever going to happen.  

Crawford does not look dominant over the good offensive fighters he faces (Dulorme and Gamboa), but he knocks them out.  He dominated the durable ones like Beltran and Burns, but could not stop them.  It would seem that the ideal opponent to give Crawford trouble, is an offensive minded fighter with a good chin.  Matthysse seems the best candidate.  Provo would not move his hands enough.  Crawford - Rios is not a bad consolation prize, and would be another name scalp on Crawford's resume, but I'd rather see him become top dog BEFORE cleaning out the division.  That only happens with a win over Broner or Matthysse, and I have a feeling Broner's marketability will not survive through a defeat like the Argentine's already has, therefore we are more likely to see Crawford-Matthysse.

For Dulorme, the offensive ability is definitely there, but the punch receptivity is not.  He also does not fight well when hurt, and that will ultimately prove his undoing.  Crawford is many wonderful things in boxing, but a guaranteed finisher he has not been.  However, he seemed to finish off the Puerto Rican with no problem. It's not as if chinny fighters don't sometimes become champions, but Dulorme is surrounded by fierce competition.  He may win a belt some day, but all the hype surrounding him has dissipated.  

Post-script: We have also seen the exit of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr as a threat at 175lbs.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.  Chavez was always a product of hype and name.  His middleweight belt was manufactured.  He, like his father, won many fights he did not deserve, is a complainer to referees, and quit on his stool, after suffering one knockdown.  Far from the relentless machismo we would expect from a Mexican warrior.  At least Chavez Sr had the talent to compete at the highest levels of the sport.  In all fairness, this was one hell of a step up in both weight and class for JC, but where does he go now? He would drop down to 168lbs, but that division is full of people who would easily outclass him.  Stick an fork in him. 

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QUEBEC IS ON FIRE

QUEBEC IS ON FIRE

Every now and then, a specific region takes the boxing world by storm.  Sometimes it is an entire country, yet other times, as small as a town.  Brooklyn's power in the last few years has been impressive.  The re-gentrification of the area, combined with influx of investor money, made Brooklyn basketball and boxing centers.  However, the amount of top BK fighters didn't really change much.  It merely gave them a home-base at which to ply their trade.  However, the Quebec explosion in the last couple of years, is not only from the fighter base (both natural and immigrant-based), but is division specific.  It is also not the first time this has happened in that very location.

Adonis Stevenson is the 175lb champion.  He made the leap from 168 in his championship shot, and has scored several dominating wins since then.  However, the dust had barely settled before fellow Quebecois Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal were sharing the spotlight.  Although both of those men were beaten by men other than Stevenson, the number one contender in Kovalev (A Russian living in Florida) has also plied his trade multiple times in front of the Quebec fans.  Also, Montreal is getting competition from it's smaller, more Franco-phile neighbor to the northeast: Quebec City.  As may big fights are happening there these days, as in Montreal.  

Canada is a desirable country, like the USA, therefore it provides a home for a wide-range of diaspora.  Whereas Mexicans, Russians, and Armenians may look towards Los Angeles, Montreal brings Haitans and Romanians.  The immigration explosion is bringing far more great fighters into the fold.  Some of the fighters are born and raised, while others came as children.  Some have come just for their careers, however.  Quebec's regional explosion in boxing is that it has been slow growing.  Bute's rows at 168lbs, also drew huge crowds.  Pascal and Diaconu (another Montreal-based former world champion) had a pair of fights that packed em in.  Middleweight David Lemieux (a rare homegrown fighter) is exciting if not world class.  

However, 15 years ago, the same thing was happening at 168lbs.  Davey Hilton, Eric Lucas, and Stephane Oueltte had epic battles, with high drama.  There never really was a long pause between eras, yet the change from home-grown fighters, to immigrant labor has been drastic.  The Canadians open-arms acceptance of the foreign-born fighters has been inspirational, and quite money-making.  In fact, Kovalev is not the first USA-based fighter to chase the bigger crowds north of the border, multiple times.  Librado Andrade and Chad Dawson had a few of their biggest fights in Quebec, even though neither man ever called it home.  This happened, you guessed it, at 168lbs.  

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PBC ON NBC, RECAP

 PBC ON NBC, RECAP

We are 4 fights down, in the NBC's foray into boxing, and we have yet to see a knockout.  However, it seems each show has had one exciting fight, and one not so exciting.  The Spike show seemed to provide more chills and spills, but did not have the name recognition of the NBC cards.  In the most recent telecast, from Barclay's in Brooklyn, Peter Quillin and Andy Lee fought to a 12 round draw, while Danny Garcia won a close decision over Lamont Peterson.  

While the first NBC card can at least say it furthered (slightly) the status of  Keith Thurman and Adrien Broner, while seriously demoting John Molina and Robert Guerrero, this card has done neither.  There was nothing really done to help or hurt one's status among boxing fans, for all four participants.  Lee and Quillin each made rare trips to the canvas (Quillin had never been dropped).  Lee keeps his belt (he would have anyway, since the title was not on the line after Quillin came in overweight), while Quillin keeps his unbeaten record.  In the main event , it was more of the same.

 Peterson actually proved to those who considered him a pure pressure fighter, than he can box on his toes, and Garcia proved he has underrated defense.  While the decision was certainly not a bad one, it was the 2nd time in 3 fights that Garcia, while favored, won the fight, and lost the event.  One year ago, Mauricio Herrera gave Garcia all he could handle in a win in Puerto Rico.  Herrera has both won and lost many dubious decisions, but this one was not that awful.  Seemed to be a close win for Herrera, and instead it was a pre-bought win for Garcia.

 In this case, as well, the cries of protest will be even softer.  However, Peterson was clearly the aggressor down the stretch, and had momentum on his side for the last 5 rounds.  Since he also dictated pace in the first 7 rounds, he seemed the better of the two fighters.  However, punches landed is the big game, and Garcia won that category clearly.  Peterson may have been boxing, but for the first 7 rounds, he was not landing.  It makes one wonder if Lamont had started his pressure attacks earlier, what would have happened.  Peterson himself said that if he had tried any sooner, a fresher Garcia may have caught him.  So, this was his game plan, and in another arena, on another night, it may have worked.  

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Alvarez Could be Looking Past His Bout with Kirkland

Alvarez Could be Looking Past His Bout with Kirkland

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (44-1-1) is set to face James Kirkland (32-1) next month at Minute Maid Park in Houston in a non-title fight. Alvarez is coming off his split decision win over Erislandy Lara back in July 2014, while Kirkland has been on a boxing hiatus since December 2013 when he defeated Glen Tapia with a sixth-round TKO.

Although Kirkland was described as 'potentially the most dominant offensive force in boxing since a prime Mike Tyson' after his win against Tapia, many believe he will suffer from his extended layoff. Andre Berto, two-time Welterweight champion, believes the rust from Kirkland’s break will negatively affect the fellow 31-year-old, explaining, "He has a puncher’s chance but Canelo is a beast."

Analysts have also expressed Kirkland’s rust might not even make a difference as the fight might not last long enough for Kirkland to get tired. If Alvarez can keep Kirkland away and land some big shots, which many believe can easily be accomplished, Alvarez could cruise to an easy knockout. The experts have Alvarez heavily-favored in the May 9th fight according to Gambling.com affiliates.

With Kirkland’s expected rust and Alvarez’s confidence coming off his Lara win, has Alvarez looked past his bout with the American and moved on to his expected fight with either Miguel Cotto or IBO and WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin? According to an interview Alvarez gave earlier this month, he understands despite the layoff, Kirkland is still a threat in the ring; "I feel good and I've been working very hard. He's one of the most dangerous fighters in this division. All the people and the media say so...we always look for the most dangerous fights."

Aside from the hype-men like Ali and others, most fighters stray away from bashing their opponents pre-fight and adding unneeded motivation, so it’s hard to gauge if Alvarez is truly concerned with Kirkland or if he is looking past him. Although Kirkland clearly has the talent and Alvarez has voiced his concern, it would be understandable that Canelo is somewhat distracted by the rumors spreading about his potential fights moving forward.

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APRIL 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

APRIL 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

Danny Garcia vs. Lamont Peterson
Yes, I could complain that it is two years too late, or at a catch-weight... or even that it was the fight between two guys who got lucky breaks against Amir Khan.  However, I am just glad it is happening.  Given the styles, it should be a great fight, and a chance for each man to redeem themselves in the eyes of fans.  Garcia for his near-miss against Herrera, and hapless-victim Rod Salka, as well as Peterson for his inconsistency.  Unfortunately for Lamont, we know now what styles bother Danny, and it's not the plodding pressure fighter.  He is too durable, and has decent enough boxing skills.  In fact, I would not be surprised if Peterson's usually durable chin has another Mattyhsse moment later in the fight.  Garcia by late TKO, after winning most rounds.

Artur Beterbiev vs. Gabriel Campillo
Beterbiev did not exactly scintillate against Page his last time out.  Muscling 3 flash knockdowns after tasting the canvas himself.  Unfortunately, because he looked so great against Cloud, and the Quebec scene is moving too fast, he has to learn quickly.  Bad luck fighter Campillo is actually coming off a win over another highly touted prospect in Thomas Williams.  If judges had eyes, he would also be 2-0 against Shumenov, and a winner over Cloud, himself... at a time when both were unbeaten, as well.  However, his legitimate losses to Kovalev and Fonfara are the reason why I will not be picking him.  The Spaniard does not respond well to big punchers who put on constant pressure, and are not afraid to miss.  It probably won't take long, either, even if Campillo wins all the opening rounds.  Chico Guapo will be gone by round 5.  Beterbiev by KO.

Terence Crawford vs. Thomas Dulorme
Dulorme gets one good win over a frozen Karim Mayfield, and suddenly we are expected to forget about the Abregu loss.  I am not about to forget, however.  He is a TV friendly fighter, whose management has to cash in on the hype that surrounded him, and this is the best way.  Crawford seems to be a fighter who can do it all: box, slug, orthodox, southpaw.  He also has good power, but doesn't rely on it, in addition to good speed and a very solid chin.  Bud is one of those B+/A- all around guys, who does nothing badly.  This spells trouble for Dulorme, who has shown flashes of brilliance... but if you thought Gamboa looked out of answers, just wait til round 5 of this one.  Crawford by late TKO, after dominating.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Andrzej Fonfara
The first few rounds of this one may be pathetic, but don't click away.  Chavez and Fonfara are both pressure fighters who start slow, and seem to get stronger as fights go on.  Fonfara, however, is facing the most durable fighter of his career, and if he thinks he has any chance of winning a decision, just check out your opponent's last name.  Not a chance.  Fonfara has to start early, dominate, and then put pressure on.  That is an exhausting task for a fighter that even started late against a back-pedaling Stevenson.  Chavez will not hurt Fonfara either, but he will not need to.  He is protected by corruption, and will never lose a decision, unless it is dominating.  This is something that Fonfara is likely not capable of.  Chavez by close, controversial decision.

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APRIL 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

APRIL 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

Adonis Stevenson vs Sakio Bika
This is actually the most dangerous fight Bika has taken in style-matchups since he has become champion.  Dawson and Cloud were good fighters, but sitting ducks for his power.  Superman will probably not have the concussive force necessary to stop Bika, although his boxing skills are superior.  What he has in front of him is another Fonfara, who will actually start quicker.  This should be an exhausting fight for Superman, but given their recent opposition, Kovalev is due a softie, not Stevenson.  Bika will probably make it to the final bell, but this fight will actually showcase the lateral movement and boxing skills more than anything else.. which he will need for facing the Krusher.  Stevenson by hard-fought UD.

Lucas Matthysse vs. Ruslan Provodnikov
This fight can't miss.  Two durable, big punching 140lb-ers, who love to trade bombs.  Matthysse has a bit more in the way of skills, but Provodnikov is more iron chinned, and consistent with his pressure.  In fact, a pre--Garcia Matthysse would surely be favored, but he has had a bit mroe of his granite chipped away than the Russian.  Provo's 3 losses were all close fights to light-hitting boxers who shoe shined him and moved away.  When Provo respects your power, he usually fights a more disciplined attack, and doesn;t just walk in taking combinations.  Matthysse winning would not surprise me, but I think his defeats and even victories have taken more out of him than Ruslan's, and Provo will rally to stop Lucas late.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Bryant Jennings
Klitschko is back in the USA, and while Jennings is inexperienced, he is also tough, mature, skilled, and a quick learner.  Will it be enough?  No way.  Dr Steelhammer picks, pokes, hears the boos from the crowd, then lowers the boom for a brutal KO, probably before round 7.

Andy Lee vs. Peter Quillin
I am glad this fight is happening, but really, every belt that is on the line at 160lbs, comes with an asterisk next to it.  Cotto is linear champ, but that claim is dwindling to nothing.  The IBF belt was low value anyway, now with Taylor, it is in the deep freeze.  Jacobs can only call himself a belt holder by technicality, anyway, and until the all-Brooklyn showdown with Quillin happens, he will be third fiddle to Kid Chocolate.  Lee has rescued two tough fights from the fire with his big right hook, but I think Quillin is too good and durable for that.  Pressure from a durable opponent bothers Quillin (which is why you will not see him anywhere near GGG, or maybe even not Jacobs.  They are positioning him to face Cotto in an "all avoidance" showdown, and Lee, unfortunately for him, is the perfect foil.  Quillin is not a finisher, so Lee probably won't have to worry about being stopped, but he will lose far too many rounds, and not be able to hurt Quillin.  Kid Choclotae by UD.

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THE BIG ONE, PART 2

THE BIG ONE, PART 2

This is also the third (big life events always come in threes, right?) in a series of 2015 circumstances that is bringing boxing back to the mainstream.  First is the networks.  NBC announced many TV fight dates this year.  Now, the network has dabbled in returning to boxing every few years since the heyday of the 80s, but this time, it marks the biggest commitment.  Al Haymon actually is having his fighters fight real fights, as a part of these cards, which is impressive.  CBS then followed suit, and will be rejoining.  This has not happened in 25 years.  Two big networks showing fight cards on weekends, in prime time, no less.  Some are day fights,while some are night fights.  I cannot recall prime time championship boxing on network TV since I was 8 or 9 years old.

CBS does need to up their game, however.  The CBS SN card in New York last weekend was disgraceful.  Those were 6 men who had no business appearing on TV.  This was a lcoal baroom card.  They even wasted fans time by mentioning the ridiculous belt that was being fought for in one of the bouts.  However, CBS itself has already looked to be increasing it's profile, and they were quite good at covering boxing back in the day.  It may not be Tim Ryan and Gil Clancy, but it will liekly be someone good.  I vote for Rich Marotta and Dan Goossen.  Old school enough to know their stuff, and have experience, but not so old that they have been out of it.

The second occurrence that is helping boxing to be relevant again is Deontay Wilder.  I know it doesn't seem a big deal now, but an American who has won atitle belt, Olympic medal, and has a couple of natural foreign foils to go against is going to be exciting for a while.  He is also promoted/managed by Haymon, meaning his network TV debut could be just around the corner.  If Wilder does anything other than suffer back to back brutal KO losses, there will be interest in him for years to come.  In fact, if those networks are smart.

Lets be honest, Mayweather and Pacquiao do not need boxing to return to the mainstream to affect their pocketbooks.  They are the only two fighters whos earning power will not change.  they are routinely the top two earners in all of sports.  However, by this time in June, the average sports fan will have had boxing thrown at him quite a bit.  This will bring new fans, and new discussions of the sport taking place on social media.  THAT is what will return boxing to the mainstream.  Now, I just hope it ends up a good fight.

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THE BIG ONE, PART 1

THE BIG ONE, PART 1

It is very difficult not to get too excited about the upcoming bout May 2nd.  Cynically, we die-hard fight-fans are the ones telling everyone that the fight is too late, and that it's really not as much of a fight between the two best as say GGG-Ward would be, etc.  We can say that style-wise it may not be exciting, and that this fight is more for mainstream gain, blah blah blah.  The truth is, we are all excited... very excited.  Let me explain why.  First, each man is the other's stylistic nightmare.  Second, it means too much to the sport we love.

If you live under a rock, you may not know what I am talking about.  Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are set to face one another on May 2nd.  It will be a hybrid promotion, broadcast... heck, even different boxing glove companies will be used.  Some of the aforementioned cynicism is well-founded.  Pacquiao was knocked cold a few fights back, and Mayweather has been slowing down.  However, there is just as much evidence that this will make the fight more exciting than it would have been years ago.  There is also the lack of KO power.  Both men were knockout artists at lighter weights, but once at 147 or higher, they seem to have stopped for both men.  This can also be blamed on style and opponent quality, as much as size.
I am one who ascribes to the theory that both men are aging at about the same pace.

The only cynicism left is that the fight may not actually take place.  'I'll believe it when they are both in the ring", is something I have said many times.  Cancellations are very common, and usually under dubious circumstances.  Often attributed to injury, too often the real problem is money.  You'll notice that Mayweather and Pacquiao rarely if ever cancel fights due to injury.  Are they superhuman, or are the other fighters' injuries BS?  I have to believe the latter.  There is too much money on the line, and too much money to be made on a rematch, if an injury is available as an excuse.  NO, unless one of them is missing a limb, the fight goes on as scheduled.

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El Paso Boxing Museum

El Paso Boxing Museum

Boxing Museum opens in El Paso, Texas. The 85-year-old boxing trainer and cutman Rafael Garcia has donated most of his historic boxing artifacts from over 40 World Champions that he has worked with throughout his career.

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Interview with Boxing Manager Donna Keegan-Avery

Interview with Boxing Manager Donna Keegan-Avery

CS: How did you get into boxing management?     
 
I got started in boxing management by way of the film industry. I know, say what? I went on location in New Orleans to visit my then boyfriend, Rick Avery, who is the stunt double for Robert DeNiro. The movie was GRUDGE MATCH. Hanging out in the boxing gym with Rick, and one of my favorite people, Todd Smith aka LL Cool J, I was subjected to the 'arena' for quite some time.       
DKA: Then Rick, who I manage in the film industry, was hired as stunt coordinator and 2nd unit director on Hands of Stone, the Roberto Duran story. Off we went to Panama for 4 1/2 months. Well, that was an indoctrination into the WORLD OF BOXING! Rick worked out his fighters everyday, and worked out with them! So, there I was in the mecca where 26 world champions were forged from a hot house gym by the name of Los Rockeros, including the great DURAN himself. After the first week of training, Rick came home and said," Honey, you have got to see this kid. I've never seen anything like him before. After 2 and a half hours we're all dying and he's just getting warmed up!. He's Panamanian. He's playing the part of Davey Moore and he's a real boxer". Now, of course, for my (now) fiancee, Rick to make a statement like that about someone, I had to check him out. After all, Rick is a living legend himself, truly, so this guy had to be very impressive. The next day I went to rehearsal/training and lo and behold, there stood this Adonis by the name of Israel Duffus. Over the next 4 months I figured out a way to talent manage him by agreeing to be his boxing manager! We wrapped in mid December of 2013, and on January 17th I brought Israel to  Los Angeles to live with us. Then I just figured it out … The boxing business that is.  (laughs)      

CS: Were you a fan prior?  If so, of who?       

DKA: I have been a fan of all sports my entire life .. Growing up our heros were Cassius Clay and Joe Frazier. My oldest brother forced me to like boxing. He was an avid boxing fan and loved to box. He is 6 years older than me and as fast as lightning. His favorite way to 'babysit' was to get on his knees with couch throw pills for gloves and knock the snot out of me and my other brother. Yeah, and people wonder why I became a stuntwoman LOL.       
 
CS: Who are your current prospects/contenders?DKA: Currently I have two boxers in my 'family' … I don't like the term stable. I know it works for men but it doesn't portray the level of respect I feel these superior athletes deserve. Just a pet piece of mine, but I digress… Chris Van Heerden "The HEAT" and Israel "Bumaye" Duffus. I am in discussions with other gentlemen right now.    

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The Life Story of Thomas Mckay Featured on The Fort Bliss Bugle

The Life Story of Thomas Mckay Featured on  The Fort Bliss Bugle

Thomas McKay’s Southern-American accent radiates through cracks of The Wolves Den. Upon entry, the smell of stale sweat and sounds of human grunts is intoxicating, like an atavistic mirage. In the middle of all of this, there is this little Merlin, this little man. He stands in a boxing ring, a pioneer of pugilism, commanding fighters to duck, move and punch. A bell rings. The boxers no longer duck, move or punch. McKay leans on the boxing ropes ever-moving, a side effect of Parkinson’s disease; always slurping, a side effect of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw; and breathing heavy, a side effect of prostate cancer.

“I am finally beginning to feel old,” said McKay, between breaths, “but I have not lost any of my enthusiasm or passion for boxing.”

This much is evident, as McKay, at 79 years old, is currently the assistant boxing coach at The Wolves Den, senior citizen boxing instructor at El Paso Jiu Jitsu, sportswriter for Convictedartist.com, and Executive Director of the Board for the 2014 El Paso Boxing/Martial Arts Hall of Fame banquet. McKay, admittedly, finds no reason to retire, because, as he said: “employment is a privilege.”

McKay was born Oct. 2, 1934 in Balmorhea, Texas, at a dead end – literally and figuratively. His parents, Raymond and Ermine owned a small ranch and “lost everything” during the Great Depression. After McKay’s father joined the Army, the financial burden of raising five children became too much for Ermine. As a result, she sent Thomas, his brother and sister to St. Margaret’s Orphanage Home during the years 1942 to 1943.

“We would sneak out of our room at night, run through the home, lie in the field and stare up at the stars,” said McKay. “It was a time, for us, when our family didn’t seem too far away.”

Unfortunately, during the family’s separation, Raymond and Ermine got divorced. In response, McKay’s mother, as well as two older siblings began to work for different companies. In 1945, when the family was reunited, Thomas followed suit by finding work as a newspaper boy, earning $1.50 a week.

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MARCH 14, 2015 BOXING WEEKEND RECAP

MARCH 14, 2015 BOXING WEEKEND RECAP

A lot of boxing action took place last weekend, and all major networks except Fox and ESPN were involved, strangely enough.  Some of the same problems persist within our sport.  Lousy judging (Cunningham-Glazkov), early stoppages (Jerry Odom, Pascal, J. Lopez).  All are big issues, but in the overall, the main events were delivering at the highest level.  Given what we saw on the undercards, they really needed to.

Ok, so Chilemba is better than his record, but how much can you learn when your opponent does not really even bother to show up?  Sure, his corner was making it worse by chastising him, instead of giving concrete strategy, but Lepikhin was just not there.  I do not agree with Harold Lederman that Glazkov-Cunningham was such a bad fight, but the decision was pretty bad.  However, what do you expect?  Glazkov has a history of winning bad decisions (Rossy, Malik Scott draw), and Cunningham has a history of losing them (Wlodarczyk, Adamek, Hernandez).  I could have seen this one coming a mile away.  He needs to steer clear of Main Events.  Kathy Duva has now screwed him more than European promoters have, and at least they pay really well.

Pascal and Kovalev, made it all better with their brawl.  Pascal did not really have technical answers for Kovalev, but his heart, and better than average chin was a test in and of itself.  When Pascal came back from being out on his feet to win the next two rounds, I wondered if we had an upset brewing, but Kovalev showed that his biggest asset is his demeanor and intelligence, as he calmed down, and continued to time Jean.  I do not question the stoppage in the overall, but the timing was bizarre.  When Pascal staggered back, without being hit... that was the time.  Or maybe, let him go down one more time, which he was clearly about to, and you would not be questioned... but any time a fighter is protesting a stoppage, his ability to do so is pretty much proof that you made a mistake.

Andre Berto looked excellent in stopping Josesito Lopez, simply because he finally won an entertaining fight.  3 times, Berto has been in a fight of the year candidate, and they represent his 3 losses.  He also got a win over a fighter in his own backyard.  I'd like to see him avenge the Soto-Karass or Guerrero loss, then step into a big fight with Thurman or Maidana.  I would not pick him in any of these fights, but he is a live underdog against any of them.  Again, I only question the stoppage, because Lopez has had this happen to him a few times: Maidana, Canelo, now Berto.  Maybe he is going to lose anyway, but he has heart, and wants to be a warrior.  Referees, however, keep denying him this opportunity.

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GIANTS WITH STAMINA

GIANTS WITH STAMINA

While watching the recent NBC card, it dawned on me how well conditioned these athletes are today.  True, they only have to go 12 rounds, compared to athletes of the past.. but back then, one could spend the entire round recovering and clinching.  Nowadays, that lack of action is broken up immediately.  However, sometimes fighters do not have a style that matches their size... or expectations.

Take Jim Jeffries or Tyson Fury's inside game for example... given their immense reaches, that has to be a surprise to their opponents.  Tiny Ivan Calderon and Willie Pep's incredible outside boxing skills are just as impressive, if not moreso.  However, there is another stereotype that rarely gets mentioned... that is the big man's penchant for getting tired late.  Derrick Jefferson, John Tate, Buster Mathis, all lost winnable big fights because they ran out of gas.  This is not always the case, however.  Here are a few big men, who were not only in it for the long haul, they were usually the fresher at the end.

Jess Willard - This was a man who did not even turn to boxing until he was 27, yet learned enough in only a few years to dethrone the great Jack Johnson.  His victory came in 100 degree heat in Cuba, against a man known for his stamina.  Johnson had not trained, however, and spent most of his energy outboxing Willard.  Most fights in those days were scheduled for 20-25 rounds.  If that had been the case, Johnson wins a decision, but they fought a 26th round, and Johnson was the one losing energy, when Willard caught him with a big right hand and dropped him.  Willard was the size of Klitschko, but back then, that was a huge giant of a man.  For him to have greater stamina than his opponent took a lot of training.  It was pretty much his only reason for victory in that case.  The big man also managed to go 2 more rounds after an absolute assault from Jack Dempsey, before retiring on his stool due to injuries.  If nothing else, he had a great heart, both in literal, and figurative terms.  He even lived until 86, combating another stereotype about giants and health.

Nicolai Valuev - Valuev was not the typical giant in many ways.  First, he was a sufferer of acromegaly.  His gigantism was the result of a genetic quirk, not heredity.  Just ask Andre the Giant how many health problems that usually results in.  However, Valuev not only was a healthy 7-footer, he was not even a huge puncher.  He routinely went 12 rounds at the higher levels, and was rarely winded afterwards.  He was by no means a hall of famer, and won his share of dubious decisions (as does any Sauerland fighter), but he gets to call himself a former world title holder, who was never stopped.  Pretty impressive.

Paul Williams - The heavyweights are not the only people who can be "giants" as it is all relative.  

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Exclusive Interview with Wera Promotions Founder Maria Escalante

Exclusive Interview with Wera Promotions Founder Maria Escalante

There is a new fight promotion that is about to reel in the interests of the entire Southwest boxing community. It is known now as WERA PROMOTIONS and it is launching its first World Title fight on April 18, 2015.  The El Paso, Texas based boxing promotion promises to bring in top notch fights with regard to best quality and talent. The main event will include El Paso’s Jennifer Han as she takes on IBF Champion Helen Joseph for her IBF featherweight title. The co-main event will feature Hector Camacho Jr. vs. Arturo Mijares. This promotion will utilize the local talents of El Paso, Texas and introduce many of them to the boxing community.

Maria Escalante told ConvictedArtist.com in a recent interview that she now has a solid team behind her and together they will lead this promotion and take the initiative to make it great.  Escalante knows what is expected of a boxing promoter, and considers any mistakes a learning experience. She has had a rough past but can now use her knowledge to charge forward in creating this new promotion. If there is one thing you should take away from this article, it is that she believes that if a promotion isn't doing it for the fighters themselves then it is no promotion at all. She doesn't believe anything other than hard work will get her and her team ahead.

Another awesome factor in this promotion is that it will bring more fights to El Paso Texas, keeping boxing alive and exciting in El Paso for the fight fans.  Imagine watching your favorite boxing matches on TV and then quenching your thirst for action by watching a live Wera Promotions fight card. Also, fight fans  can have a say in what is going on because this promotion encourages the community to be active and involved with its projects. Maria and her team are thinking outside the box by bringing you and those around you a new type of boxing experience that will surely be enjoyed.

She has seen what other everyday promotions are all about and is trying to be unique and truly special. She is also willing to give advice to some of the other promotions that are starting out in the local area. Escalante is genuinely trying to make boxing the most enjoyable experience possible. So do check out WERA PROMOTIONS by Maria Escalante, Paul E. Garcia and Robert Tapia. Here is the recent interview with Maria Escalante and her new promotion.

CA: What do you and your team plan to do differently with Wera Promotions?

Maria Escalante: Our plans are different in a way. I am guessing every promoter has the same goals. It is just how you can deliver them. We are planning on being consistent and bringing in good quality fights here to El Paso. There is a lot of local talent here.  I have done six shows here in the past. I understand promoting really well. Right now I have a really great team behind me and we want to do something different. I know that me being a female promoter is going to raise a lot of questions but I am ready. I am ready to take the challenge and do the shows as a female promoter.

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WHEN PROMOTERS DO NOT HAVE THEIR WAY

WHEN PROMOTERS DO NOT HAVE THEIR WAY

This weekend had two occurrences of one of the utmost rarities in boxing.  The hometown challenger lost.  Now, that in and of itself is not too rare, but let me set the stage.  Paul Butler, who had won a belt last year at bantamweight, immediately relinquished it to drop down to his more natural weight at super flyweight.  One would think he had done so, in order to have an easier time of it.  It turns out, Stuey Hall was merely a paper champion at 118lbs, and that win was nothing to write home about.  Randy Caballero may disagree, as he had to work to clearly beat Hall, but either Zolani Tete is a beast, or that was in fact the case.

Butler got his title shot in the same organization, in his hometown, last Saturday, and could not come close to winning.  Tete completely dominated, before stopping Butler in only 8 rounds.  The bizarre part was that Butler was heavily favored, yet had no answers for what amounted to a bigger leap up in class than he was expecting.  Perhaps he should have stayed at 118lbs, as dropping down rarely results in success.  At least at bantam, he could have lost his title to an American (Caballero), which may have paid him a bit better.  At least he gets to share his shame with another fighter, for whom even more was riding on his IBF title shot.

Yes, another lighter weight IBF titlist kept his crown against an overhyped challenger.  Ruenrong domianted 2x gold medalist Zou Shiming in front of Macao's faithful, cheering for their Chinese hero.  It did not help.  And contrary to popular belief, Shiming's lack of power did not undo him here.  It was simply his lack of ability and experience.  Remember, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko were 2x gold medalists because of their extraordinary talent, and natural amateur style.  Shiming succeeded with the help of corrupt judging, as well as a style specifically designed to score points in the now-defunct Olympic scoring system.  That same system cheated Raushee Warren in the same 3 Olympics, yet I think few sane people would pick Shiming to defeat the American as a pro.

Trying to win a title in your 7th fight is tough.  It is tougher when you are not a puncher.  It is tougher still when your trainer splits his time between you and several other top fighters.  It is even harder when you are already rich after only a few fights.  Shiming could walk away now, and still hold a place in boxing history.  2x gold medalist, and the man who opened China for boxing.  He'll probably stick around until a belt can be deliverd to him more easily, but he is this generation's Paul Gonzales, to be sure.  If it seems like I am enjoying these men's downfall, don't misread it.  I am actually enjoying the lesson learned by promoters for both events.  

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Nonito Donaire is dropping down in weight... but why?  He's one of boxing's good guys, and achieved so much already.  Nonito is a 5 division champion (who was unified in 3 of those divisions).  This would be the perfect time for him to get out of the game.  He has more to offer his young family, and young fighters.  He is a first ballot hall of famer, former fighter of the year, who has scored highlight-reel KOs over fellow hall of famers.  His loss to Walters is forgivable, if the young Jamaican is half as good as we think he is, but Donaire is still left with nothing more to prove.
 
Speaking of proving one-self... Deontay Wilder's win over Stiverne was probably the perfect scenario for him.  He'll never fully answer every question with only one fight.  However, he went all 12, showed his boxing skills, and even got to show good defense and a fairly solid chin.  The latter issue will make him an even bigger favorite over Fury than he would have been, but now he's be a big favorite over everyone in the division except Klitschko.  Even talented men like Pulev, Thompson, Haye, and Povetkin would not be favored over the young American.  Regardless, he has already out-achieved every recent US challenger at heavyweight since Hasim Rahman.
 
Speaking of Klitschko, he is almost nearing the point where Donaire has reached.  The difference is that Nonito had a loss as a good reason to walk away.  Klitschko is going to have to choose from the point of view of having nothing left to prove.  Pretty much everyone is in agreement that Jennings and Wilder/Fury winner are the only fights left of any interest to him.  However, Wilder and Fury will likely pose for another year before fighting each other.  They will also try and allow big Wlad to age a bit more.  I hope he does not take the bait.  I'd love to see it, but it's only going to happen if Wlad waits around for useless mandatories, and falls for the aging bait.  Instead, he should beat Jennings, and announce he will have one more fight... and then only fight Wilder if he beats Fury.  That will start the ball rolling.  Champs have to act like champs, and manage their contenders in a way.
 
Speaking of 'contenders', I am very glad that TV show is gone.  I am very much looking forward to the network TV re-emergence of boxing.  Late, great comedian Greg Giraldo once quipped about the show "Contender", 'we've already got a TV show to tell us who's the best boxer... it's called "Boxing"'.  Glad to see network TV is dropping the fake-ness that is "reality" from the sport.  Uninformed sportswriters have been writing of the death of boxing for years, and the latest reason was thought to be the MMA explosion.  

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IS IT JUST ME OR...

IS IT JUST ME OR...

Did we all get too excited about John Molina?  From where I sit, he is a glorified journeyman, looking for one big shot.  True, he has gotten that shot off a few times, but he was coming off two losses, one to a completely shot former champion (Humberto Soto).  Should we be surprised that Broner shut him down and dominated him?  Until someone teaches Molina how to jab, he will always be a lower part of the top 20 fighter.

Did Keith Thurman get the best of both worlds Saturday night?  he got to drop and hurt Robert Guerrero, something no one else has done.  he also got to win a wide unanimous deciision over him.  Something that only Floyd has done.  He also got to overcome adversity, both in the form of the headbutt hematoma (with thich he fought for an impressive 9 rounds), as well as a surging challenge from Guerrero late.  He still managed to win rounds as The Ghost came on.  This fight may have made his overall boxing skills look less impressive than the Zaveck and Bundu fights, but he is experiencing what Pacquiao did when he moved up in weight and caliber... just because you cna p;unch, does not mean you're going to be able to score KOs.

Did Abner Mares wait to long to become relevant again?  He is already a 3-division champion, but much like Donaire and Broner, this leaves little else to do.  One if forced to spen their athletic prime, either chasing even bigger men, or redoing old accomplishments.  You can see the lack of Rigor on mares' face.  besides, he could have easily won a Gonzalez rematch.  Instead, Gonzalez is likely to lose to Russell, a man that Mares probably will not beat.  At 126, there are only losses ahead of mares, especially now that Top Rank fighters are available to him.  However, if he moves to 130lbs, he may get a belt, but maybe not.  Salido is a bad style match-up, too.  Maybe they are putting him in with light-hitters now, for a reason.

Is Raushee Warren being brought along way too slow for a man of his talent?  He would give Zou Shiming a boxing lesson, and easily win belts in two divisions surrounding him.  What are they waiting for?  Warren was the guy Broner looked up to in Cincinnati gyms growing up, and now Broner is light years ahead of "Baby Pit" in the pros.  That's got to hurt.

Did NBC have a very good balance for the inagural PBC on NBC show?  Old and new as far as their cut-aways, their commentary team, and even their coverage.  It was a good mix of enteratining and educating the boxing fans.  

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HISTORICALLY SPEAKING, NOT SO BAD

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING, NOT SO BAD

If only we knew how good we had it in the 70s and 80s.  I hear this a lot.  From the old timers, they may talk with longing for the 40s and 50s.  The 80's is the era for which I came of age in boxing.  1985 to be exact.  We took for granted that of course the best would fight each other, and of course, we would all be able to see it.  Tyson fought everyone except Page and Witherspoon from his era.  Hearns, Duran, Leonard, Hagler, all fought each other.  However, our times are not as different as we think.
 
Maybe in action and a drama, there has been a drop in the 147-54 stars, but as far as the best fighting each other... Oscar fought everyone, even those who would not fight each other.  Vargas, Quartey, Mosley, Trinidad, Whittaker, etc.  If Mayweather and Pacquiao fight, they will however, have completed another circle.  This circle that includes Mosley and Cotto will be the same as the big 4 of the 80s.  It may have taken longer, and been largely void of knockouts, but it will have happened.  We are just privy to more of the nonsense behind the scenes, and it makes it seem like forever to get a deal done.
 
As far as the 70's go, Foreman vs. Lyle was a brawl, but so was the second Arreola-Stiverne fight.  Fury-Cunningham, too.  And Foreman had been idle for 15 months prior to that fight.  Ali may have kept his title for 3 1/2 years in the late 70's, but except for the Thrilla in Manila, most of those fights were snoozers.  Close snoozers, too.  Say what you want about Klitschko's dominance, but at least he usually gives us a great knockout, and wins almost every round on the way.
 
The prospect of network TV coming back is a big deal, but don't forget that closed circuit was another PPV-like headache that charged for big fights, and it's been around for a lot longer.  Most of the big fights were not on network TV, and that trend started a heck of a lot sooner than the mid 90s when network TV abandoned boxing altogether.  If you want to blame someone, blame all the death and loss of stars in 1982, combined with cable TV raising their game.  NBC could not do it better than ESPN or HBO, and they knew it.
 

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LIGHT HITTERS STRIKE IT RICH, Part 1

LIGHT HITTERS STRIKE IT RICH, Part 1

Big single shot KO artists like Julian Jackson, Earnie Shavers, and Diego Corrales have that great eraser that makes every fight interesting.  Even when way behind, they are always in every fight.  However, they are not the only ones who score these miracle KOs.  In fact, when they do it, it is not really a miracle.  When more average punchers like McCallum and Sergio Martinez score highlight reel KOs over men like Donald Curry and Paul Williams, respectively, it is more impressive.  Not only because of the caliber of opponent who was felled, but because it seemed so unlikely.  here are a handful of fights where a supposed light hitter came up with a big (usually one-punch) KO.
 
Bryant Paden over Calvin Grove
Grove was a former world champion trying to get back on track, when he took on journeyman Paden.  Paden only had 4 KO's in 21 previous fights, but came up big with a huge overhand right, in front of his hometown fans in Philadelphia.  Grove hit the deck hard, and could not rise.  It was a peak for Paden, but televised on USA, what a peak it was.  Grove would go on to right the ship, and still score some more impressive wins, but no one else stopped him the way Paden did.
 
Calvin Grove over Jeff Fenech
Yes, Grove appear twice on this list, because he too is a light hitting fighter, albeit at a much higher level.  3-division champion Fenech was coming off a year layoff, and his first defeat, in a rematch with Azumah Nelson.  It seems that once the granite was chipped away, it revealed a more exploitable weakness.  Grove took the fight to a surprised Fenech, and knocked him out with one punch in round 7 of their matchup in Australia.  Fenech would make it back for one more title challenge, but once the chin went, so did his championship-winning ability.
 
Paul Malignaggi over Kevin Watts
This New England matchup is another where the hometown fighter was the victim.  Maliganggi had won his first 3 fights by KO, then scarcely scored another as he rattled off more than a dozen straight wins.  

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MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

Kell Brook vs. JoJo Dan
Dan has two close wins over Kevin Bizier in the latter's hometown.  Going to the UK will not bother him.  He also has two losses to Selcuk Aydin in Turkey, that every sane un-purchased judge thought he won.  So, not only is he battle tested as a visitor, but he knows how to fight against hometown judging, and may very well be undefeated.  The real question mark here is Brook's state of mind.  He was lucky to be alive after a machete attack in Spain, so his mind may not all be on fighting.  There is also no telling how well he will come back from that.  Blood loss stresses organs, which could affect overall conditioning.  Dan seems to never get tired in the ring.  I am actually going to pick the upset here, even though I think overall that Brook is the better fighter.  Dan by close MD, as timing is everything.
 
Andre Berto vs. Josesito Lopez
This fight isn;t one that should matter much, as even the winner is pretty much guaranteed to fail at his next opportunity.  Berto is the welterweight ray mercer.  he seems to be the gatekeeper to big shots, but canot quite get there himself.  His losses have all come in very entertaining fights however, and Lopez makes for very entertaining fights.  Hell even Victor Ortiz stayed in the game against these two.  This has fight of the year written all over it, and a big money loss for the winner. the loser, is pretty much done at the higher levels, but witha  greta audience wathcing, it is a perfect matchup.  Berto can do more things, but he usually loses to warriors like Lopez.  He won't here, though.  Berto by late TKO, after a war.

Shawn Porter vs. Roberto Garcia
Garcia hasn't lost since he was dominated by an aging Antonio Margarito 5 years ago, but that should give us a measuring stick for Porter's comeback.  garcia has also never been stopped, and Porter's strenght would seem not to deter the Mexican.  he is coming off of two good wins over cayo and Prescott, but Porter is a different level.  Porter won't try any tricks, but he is a Provodnikov type of fighter in that even if yhou beat him, you'll go through hell to do it.  Garcia doesn't win when he goes through hell.  I think we'll see a repeat of the Margarito fight, but with a more merciful corner.  Porter by late corner retirement, TKO.

Tommy Oosthuizen vs. Ryno Liebenberg
This fight is making the list, not just because two top 15 light heavyweights are getting it on, but because it is a case of a country two best contenders facing each other.

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MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

Jean Pascal vs. Sergey Kovalev
This fight is intriguing not just because it is between two of the top 3 light heavyweights in the world, or even because of the matchup itself.  Those questions are numerous, however.  Can Kovalev handle a fighter with Pascal's offensive boxing skills?  Can Pascal's iron chin remain un-crunched by Kovalev's power?  how much did either man learn from the Hopkins fights?  This is also special but because of what it sets up.  If Pascal wins, he is the man at 175lbs, and living in the same town as the champ there.  The Pascal-Stevenson matchup would be huge in Montreal, and beyond.  If Kovalev wins, Stevenson's his fans will have seen the Krusher twice, and the build up for that fight will be just as big.  I see a repeat of Kovalev-Hopkins, where Pascal goes into survival mode early.  Kovalev by wide UD, that may be scored closer than it should be.
 
Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero
Thurman is a brutal puncher, and Guerrero is iron chinned.  However, Thurman has shown the necessary mettle to go the distance, and Guerrero's powers of adjustment are not what they once were.  Add to that, Guerrero has not exactly been active since his loss to Mayweather, and was handed the perfect foil the last time out.  I think we are looking at a repeat of Khan vs. Alexander.  Thurman by wide UD.
 
Adrien Broner vs. John Molina
This looks like a risky fight for Broner, and with Molina's heart and chin, any fight is.  however, style wise, he is just the squared up, flat footed brawler that Broner needs.  This fight offers him a chance to prove he has overcome the style problem of Maidana, without taking on the risk of Maidana's strength.  I like Molina to provide some tense moments, but Broner will gradually chop him down.  Broner by UD or late TKO.
 
Steve Cunningham vs. Vyacheslav Glaskov
If you look at common opponents, one must still look deeper.  Tomasz Adamek struggled with both, but has two close wins (one lousy) over Cunningham, with a loss to Glaskov.  Style-wise, however, maybe Cunningham has the upper hand.

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Boxing Lessons from El Paso Boxing Hall of Famer

Boxing Lessons from El Paso Boxing Hall of Famer

El Paso, Texas Boxing Lessons at San Juan Boxing 

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FIGHTERS WHO SHOULD HANG EM UP

FIGHTERS WHO SHOULD HANG EM UP

As we move into another year of boxing, we are not hurting for young, exciting prospects.  We have so many, that some are even beginning to fight each other... a rarity in leaner years.  This means we have to make room for them in our minds, rankings, and TV dates.  There are a few fighters each month that pop into my mind when it comes to overstaying one's welcome.  They have given us great performances, but it is time, for their own health, to clear the damned lane.  Here are 3 more to add to the list:
 
Mike Alvarado - Yes, he can say he was distracted, or that he never got a chance to get into a rhythm.  He can also say he did not train as hard as he could have.  He can also say he is jinxed in his own hometown.  He can even say Rios looked better than we've ever seen him.  What the truth is, however, is Alvarado is finished.  He has lost 4 out of his last 5, and 3 straight.  He has been stopped in 3 of those 4 losses, and twice quit on his stool at home.  Even if he was not 34, that would be a recipe for retirement.  Add to that his impending marriage, and litigation, he has better things to focus on than increasing his risk of brain damage.  Men with his style should not have long careers anyway, and Alvarado is already in his mid-thirties.  He also looked as if he could not make his legs work, which is always a sign that a fighter is done.
 
Rocky Juarez - Juarez never got an easy gimme for a title shot.  He had to face men like Marquez and Barrera, etc. for title shots.  The former 2000 Olympic silver medalist has now been a pro for over 14 years, and by only fighting at the top, he has quite an unimpressive record.  Castellanos is much better than his own record, too, but Juarez is no longer even a contender.  He keeps winning one whenever he seems close to quitting, and that convinces him to keep coming back for more.  Juarez deserves to call himself a former world champ, even if it was just some random vacant IBF 130lb-er or something, because he was so much better than many fighters who do have that distinction.  It's sad that it never happened for him, but it would be sadder if something happened TO him.
 
Jermain Taylor - One cannot do better than being a former undisputed champion with multiple title defenses behind you.  Taylor has beaten future hall of famers in Hopkins and Wright, and strong perennial contenders in Lacy, Ouma, and Spinks. 

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Cedric Kushner Boxing Promoter Death - REST IN PEACE

Cedric Kushner Boxing Promoter Death - REST IN PEACE

Longtime New York City boxing promoter Cedric Kushner passed away today from a heart attack at the age of 66. Kushner promoted many shows seen on HBO in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He specialized in heavyweight matches. He also did budget pay-per-view telecasts called “Heavyweight Explosion” and promoted an eight-man, one-night heavyweight tournament called “Fistful of Dollars” (won by Tony Thompson). He was the promoter of Hasim Rahman when Rahman won the heavyweight title in 2001 by knocking out Lennox Lewis in South Africa. However Rahman then abandoned Kushner and signed with rival promoter Don King. There was a lawsuit between Kushner and King, with King ultimately retaining the rights to Rahman. Kushner wasn’t actively promoting boxing in recent years.

A South Africa native who moved to the USA in the 70s, Kushner came to boxing from the music industry where he promoted the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Journey and even The Rolling Stones. In addition to Rahman, Kushner promoted the likes of Shane Mosley, Joel Casamayor, Shannon Briggs, Jameel McCline, David Tua and Michael Grant. Kushner was popular with the press core and will be fondly remembered.

By Lamon Brewster.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Here's to Rigo and Santa Cruz hopefully fighting in 2015.  Sadly it will only happen if Rigo signs with Al Haymon, but given the couple of years he has had, I don't see why he would not.  Rigo was left on the shelf by Top Rank, and does not have a localized fan base anywhere.  Maybe the reopening of Cuba to some capitalism will give Rigo a chance to fight at home.  I cannot see him selling many tickets in any other scenario.
 
Speaking of why not... why not Shannon Briggs against Klitschko in Brooklyn?  I'd rather he face Jennings, but Jennings' people know they have better odds at the Wilder-Stiverne winner, and why would they risk their ranking for a certain beat-down, if they are not even going to make the Germany money for doing so.  I never believed that fight was going to take place.  Briggs has not earned his shot, but he is usually exciting (except in losses to Ibragimov and Vitali), is from Brooklyn, and it would be an excuse for HBO to cover a Klitschko fight again.  Briggs should beat a ranked fighter by February to "earn" it officially, but as side-shows go, this one may not be bad.
 
Speaking of bad... the entrance of new promoters and TV deals could go one of two ways.  Jay-Z is now signing fighters, including potentially Andre Ward.  Anything that gets the 2nd best fighter on the planet back in the ring is good, but a new association is rarely celebrated by a risky fight.  Ward may dip his toe in slowly, meaning we will be waiting until 2016 for Ward-GGG.  If you thought Al Haymon was careful with Showtime... imagine if he has the chance to build network stars.
 
Speaking of waiting until 2016, don't hold your breath for a Wlad-WBC unification, or Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup happening this year, either.  2014 was disappointing enough, but I think this year will be even more so.  Too many of the sports big fights are being planned as swan-songs, or career-deaths.  therefore, the management of the fighters in question are not at all going to risk it, until they have milked every last penny out of them

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140 IS HOT!!

140 IS HOT!!

It is looking good for 2015 in many ways. There is the most real chance of getting the big Mayweather-Pacquiao fight since 2010.  We are finally getting Haymon on his own, and pitting his fighters against one another (we are still waitinng for Quillin-Jacobs, however).  This is shown in Guerrero-Thurman, and Peterson-Garcia not only happening, but taking place on NBC.  However, Top Rank needs the help of no one else to make 140 and 126 exciting.  Gonzalez-Russell is the only interesting bout for the Haymon/GBP side at 126, but with Gradovich, Lomachencko, Walters, Donaire, and Rigo not far beneath, 126 will be exciting even if only Top Rank cards take place.  This is also true of 140lbs, where Rios may have eliminated Alvarado from the mix, but the list of potential matchups makes that division quite fun indeed, even if Arum is the only promoter in the mix.  However, in a perfect world, Haymon and Arum would work together.  Here is my proposal for a single elimination tournament, with 3rd place qualifiers, as well.

Rios vs. Provodnikov - This fight should be made, regardless of any tournament.  This is a guarnateed brawl, that would sell out any arena, if it is even minorly promoted.  I don't know who would win, but who cares?  The loser would still be marketable.

Vargas vs. Crawford - This is more of a tactical fight, but these are two men who are often brought into exciting fights, despite themselves, and it will either bring Vargas to big enough prominence, or give Crawford another division belt.Broner vs. Matthysse - They have been talking about this fight for a while, and neither man has too many other realistic prospects outside of it.  Broner is not chomping at the bit to get in front of Maidana again, or anyone else at 147lbs, where his power was muted.  Matthysse has been just vulnerable enough lately that people will not question fighting him.  Should Broner prevail against Molina, this fight is a natural.

Garcia vs. Peterson - this is already happening for the 3 original belts and linear championship.  The winner will likely leave the division, but may actualy be better off staying to see who is at the forefront of the other 4-some.

Wild cards = Mauricio Herrera, Chris Algieri and Manny Pacquiao.  While they should never fight each other again, if Pacquiao does not get the Mayweather or Khan fights, or even if he does, and loses... this tourney would be a good fall back plan.  Even if the plan is just to wait and fight the winner, much as Bute tried to do with the 169lb Super Six.  For Algieri, maybe a fight with Alvarado would keep his name at the top of the 140lb list, but I personally do not think Alvarado shuld ever fight again. Algieri-Herrera actually makes a bit more sense.

Results prediction: I think Crawford would beat Vargas, and whoever wins out of Rios and Provo. 

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BEST CASE SCENARIO

BEST CASE SCENARIO

Deontay Wilder triumphed over Bermane Stiverne in order to become the first title belt holder of US birth since Shannon Briggs in 2006.  However, those scenarios are entirely different.  Briggs won the belt last minute against Sergei Liakhovich, at a time when the title was splintered, and there was no linear champion.  Briggs looked pathetic in his first defense, and had already been largely exposed prior to him winning the belt.  He also showed nothing new.  He looked lazy and listless, and won with one or two big shots.  He also had a history (and future) of failure at the highest levels.  He also was not that removed from US fighters holding those belts, so it was not a novelty.

Deontay Wilder actually had the best possible outcome for him marketability Saturday night.  He, unlike Briggs is entering the championship pantheon at a time when Wladimir Klitschko holds all other belts, and the distinction as the linear and best heavyweight champion out there.  The only reason the WBC champion is given any credence is it's longer, more presitigous history, and the fact that Wlad's equal (his brother Vitali) last held that belt, and did not lose it in the ring.  Therefore, Wilder must impress us more.  He did that.

We already knew he could punch, however, what we did not know, was how his boxing skills would hold up against a fighter who kept coming.  We did not know his ring generalship abilities.  We did not know about his chin or his stamina, although both had received a bad reputation in light of lack of information.  He passed all of those tests, at least this time.  Wilder definitely hurt Stiverne worse than he himself was ever hurt.  Much was made about Wilder's power, but few rememebred that Stiverne had stopped 21 of 24 victims, and had dropped normally durable Chris Arreola multiple times.  Stiverne did connect flush a few times, and Wilder took it well.  I wouldn't even call it getting his bell rung.  I would call it getting woken up.

Wilder also did not get hit flush very often for many good, intelligent reasons.  He used subtle head movement, so he would not get caught during combinations.  He also maintained the best distance, forcing Stiverne to lunge and miss badly.  He also controlled the pace and action of the fight, so that he could rest when he needed to.  There were times when he looked downright Lennox Lewis-esque in there. 

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FEBRUARY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS

FEBRUARY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS

February is a pretty dead month, so I was able to add a January fight that were not announced by the time I wrote my january predictions.  In fact, I am rather disappointed at how quiet February is this year.  It is one of the deadest months in other sports, and should be when big fights happen.  You can even get a full 6 week training camp in, without messing with a boxer's holiday fun.  But for whatever reason there is not much ado this year for the second month.  So, let's hope January stays sharp, and leads us into a hot March.

Brandon Rios vs.Mike Alvarado 3
This went from a fight between two top contenders, to a fight for a lightly regarded belt, to a fight between two shop-worn former contenders, who may have only one big one left in them.  When you fight in the style of these two, your career at the top is not usually long.  Rios has been exposed by Abril, Pacquiao, and to a lesser extent, by Alvarado himself.  Mile High Mike has lost to Provdnikov and Marquez.  While it would appear that Rios is the fresher of the two, Alvarado has already shown he knows how to beat Rios.  He just needs the discipline to stick with it.  A hometown loss against Provo embarrassed him into the intelligence he will need to stick to a game plan.  Alvarado by UD, in both men's last hurrah as main event fighters.

Jermain Taylor vs. Sergio Mora
I was disappointed to see this fight announced, because as is the case in too many divisions, the IBF is content to mean nothing in the grand scheme.  140, 147, 154, and now 160.. the IBF strap is the least meaningful of all in these divisions.  The lack of interim titles is refreshing, but it means the sanctioning body strips everyone who does not face a useless mandatory.  Now that we can see Taylor is wasting his optional, there will be no excitng fights for him on the horizon.  Don't get me wrong... fights with GGG or even Jacobs would likely be suicide missions.  However, a Cotto match would be a money maker, a unification, and although Cotto's fans would not likely forgive him for ducking Canelo (another great option for Taylor), it gives Taylor a better (but still small) chance of being the linear 160lb king again.  However, I think we only saw Jermain briefly crowned because of Soliman's injury... and Mora is more motivated.  Mora by MD, in a fight that should retire them both.

Gennady Golovkin vs. Martin Murray
This fight was announced long ago, and I must say, GGG's people are doing his best to put him in with anyone real who is not afraid. 

 

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Landlord Reneges on Lease with EL Paso Boxing & Martial Arts Hall of Fame

Landlord Reneges on Lease with EL Paso Boxing & Martial Arts Hall of Fame

After months of searching, Tom Mckay felt fortunate to find a home for the El Paso Boxing & Martial Arts Hall of Fame’s Wall of Fame.  The new found home would be used to showcase the rich boxing and martial arts history of El Paso, Texas. Tom is the president and founder of the Hall of Fame and created the non-profit organization back in 1993. All proceeds of the Hall of Fame Banquet are donated to charity. 

Tom had been going through serious personal problems, enough to make some people go crazy and the new project of opening up and mainting the home of the Hall of Fame would help take his mind off the pain.

Tom and the landlord had come to an agreement on the rental lease and agreed that as long as Tom renovated the commercial unit located at 3015 McRae Blvd., Tom would not be required to  pay rent for the first year. The time and cost of renovating the unit would be used to credit the first year’s rent. The commercial unit was in complete shambles and required new flooring, paint and drywall work.

 Determined to create a place for local fighters to enjoy, Tom took on the difficult task of renovating the run down commercial unit. Months passed and with his money invested along with countless hours of hard work, Tom was about fifty percent done with the renovation project.
It was then when Tom received a call from the property landlord. The landlord stated he was required to return his keys and vacate the property. Why? Because someone else decided to rent the same property as is.

Of course Tom wasn't about to drop everything and move on. He demanded that the landlord reconsider their verbal agreement .  Tom had invested already invested time, energy, and money into fixing up the property for the Hall of Fame. Tom along with the help of friends and family removed the old flooring and made many necessary repairs which included new paint and sheet rock.

However the landlord said there was no official contract and therefore Tom was out of luck and needed to return the keys as soon as possible. The landlord did state that he would reimburse Tom for the cost of the materials used but only if Tom provided receipts. The labor and time would not be reimbursed.   
While this story appears extremely disappointing, it is not the worst part. The landlord was a long time old family friend of Tom which made this even more painful. 

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Controversial Boxing Decisions - Historical Boxer's Perspective

Controversial Boxing Decisions - Historical Boxer's Perspective

Controversial Decisions in Boxing History. We ask professional fighters about the most disputed judging decisions of their careers.  http://www.convictedartist.com/ talks to former World Champion Jesse James Leija about his August 5, 2000 controversial loss against "The Hispanic Causing Panic" Juan Lazcano.

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Former World Champion Jesse James Leija's Prediction on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Former World Champion Jesse James Leija's Prediction on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Former World Champion Jesse James Leija's prediction on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. (Leija notable fights include Mayweather's uncle Jeff Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, Gabriel Ruelas, Kostya Tszyu, Micky Ward, Arturo Gatti, and Hector Camacho Jr., Juan Lazcano) "I DONT KNOW, IF THEY EVER DO FIGHT THERE GOING TO HAFE TO FIGHT WITH CANES. THEY MAY BOTH BE TO OLD BY THE TIME THEY FIGHT! BUT...."

Former World Champion Jesse James Leija's prediction on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. (Leija notable fights include Mayweather's uncle Jeff, Oscar De La Hoya, Gabriel Ruelas, Kostya Tszyu, Micky Ward, Arturo Gatti, and Hector Camacho Jr., Juan Lazcano) "I DONT KNOW, IF THEY EVER DO FIGHT THERE GOING TO HAFE TO FIGHT WITH CANES. THEY MAY BOTH BE TO OLD BY THE TIME THEY FIGHT! BUT...."

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2014 BOXING AWARDS OF THE YEAR

2014 BOXING AWARDS OF THE YEAR

Fight of the year
There is no clear winner, but for the combination of action and drama, I have to go with the Lucas Matthysse-John Molina fight.  Not only was there the unexpected (Molina appearing bigger, and even slightly more durable than Matthysse), there was also the ebb and flow (Mattyhsse being dropped with borderline legal shots, and Molina gradually being worn down).  The mix was complete by what was supposed to be at stake... a fight with Broner or Garcia (which Al Haymon seems to have no plans to make happen after all).. left everyone with an improved standing.  Matthysse gets a good comeback win, and still has his power, yet looks vulnerable enough that he will no longer be avoided.  Molina announces his arrival at 140 with a bang.  It's also one of those fights you can watch again and again, and still be entertained, even knowing what is going to happen.

Fighter of the year
Terrance Crawford.  You can make a case for GGG, or Sergei Kovalev, but I like to look at where they were, vs where they started.  Kovalev's win over Hopkins was very impressive, but we were just as scared of this big bomber 12 months ago when he was shellacking Ismail Sillakh.  With Stevenson, pascal, Bedterbiev, this division will remian interesting.  GGG has HBo digging for more middleweight contenders to feed to Golovkin, but he is only grown in hype in the last 12 months.  Crawford went from an uninspiring contender to the best lightweight in the world with dominant and exciting wins over the toughest most avoided guys in his division.  He did so, as a hometown hero, bring boxing back to an area where it was long neglected.

Upset of the year
Chris Algieri over Ruslan Provodnikov is probably the leader, simply because of what was at stake, in retrospect.  Algieri also had tremendous adveristy to overcome.. being both dropped by a heavy shot early, and fighting one-eyed thereafter.  Add to that, the immoveable force he was dealing with.  Provo kept coming all 12 rounds, and was always landing the heavier punches.. however, Algieri was dictating the pace, landing more, and boxing beautifully.  He rightfully earned the decision, and a multi-million dollar payday with pacquiao.. while Ruslan had to settle for a hometown bout with a completely shot Jose Luis Castillo.  Crossroads are rarely this drastic.

Comeback of the year
Manny Pacquiao may have only been coming back from a lucky punch and a lousy decision, but a year of inactivity, followed by a one-sided decision against Rios was not enough to warrant a comeback.  However, after picking right back up where he left off in dominating Tim Bradley and Chris Algieri, he is most definitely back.  Algieri and Bradley may not be punchers, but no one else has figured out how to beat either one of them, Manny has done so over 36 rounds, maybe losing 7 of them.  He even has people back to thinking he is a great match for Floyd Mayweather.  Pretty impressive.

Disappointment of the year
Mike Perez is joining the list of fighters such as Nonito Donaire, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Kubrat Pulev

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STILL A COLD WAR, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE

STILL A COLD WAR, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE

So, absolutely nothing has changed as of November 22nd.  Pacquiao is still an explosive offensive fighter, but a lousy finisher.  Mayweather is still held to a much higher opponent standard than Pacquiao, and the cold war blame is still more on Haymon and Floyd, than on Arum.  I'm not sure what would need to happen to bring Mayweather and Pacquiao together, but anyone who knows anything about the history of Haymon and Arum, it most certainly is not fans imploring.  Those two could give less than half a crap what the fans want.  It does not factor in at all.
 
If the fans want their desires heeded, however, they must make it translate into dollars.  Stop watching and/or buying tickets for the Garcia vs. Salka style cards, and boycott a network if they put one on their schedule.  Don't buy PPVs you are not interested in, and vigorously support the fights you do.  Watch them, post about them to casual fans, and show up if they are in your town.  Terrence Crawford is taking on his toughest assignments, and gets to do both in his hometown, because he has shown the willingness to do so, and the fans have responded in kind, by buying tickets.
 
I must say, though, that Arum and Haymon have switched places in the cold war.  Arum, a few years ago, was perceived as the old-school 'fighters should shut their mouths and do as they're told' promoter, who was denying the public the biggest fight of the century, because he resented upstarts like Floyd and Oscar, who were the way of the future.  Now, it has shifted around.  Now, Pacquiao is allowed to fight as many soft touches and needless rematches as he wants to, and no one balks.  When Floyd loses 3 rounds against a world-class fighter, he is dismissed as a cherry-picker, who is slipping fast.
 
Haymon, likewise, once lauded as the best manager in boxing, is now hated and reviled by fans... as the one road block to dozens of great matchups.  Not only will Haymon not match his fighters with Top Rank, he won't even match them against each other very often.  That leads to the lack of fights that make perfect sense, like Broner-Matthysse, Garcia-Peterson, and Quillin-Jacobs.  We aren't even officially getting an announcement for Stiverne-Wilder, as Haymon jockeys for position to avoid even a slight step up for his over-protected charge.
 
His personal vendetta against new boxing promoter Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, even caused one of his fighters, Peter Quillin, to vacate a belt.  this was done assuming we would get to the Quillin-Jacobs fight, but again, no announcement of that.  We must stop pretending we are putting up with crappy cards because they will lead to good ones.  

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EASY TO HURT, HARD TO FINISH

EASY TO HURT, HARD TO FINISH

Good chins and bad chins have a way of not being an easy concept to pin down.  There are the men of iron like McCall, Tua and Hagler, for which stopping them should not even be a part of your game plan.  There are the Roger Mayweathers, Junior Joneses and Amir Khans, for which where every fighter is live if they can just touch the chin.  Most lie somewhere in the middle at the championship level, and some fighters may often touch the canvas, but end up harder to stop than even the iron chinned.  Mike Tyson was durable, but once you broke him, you stopped him, and he was stopped in every loss.  These 3 men are the opposite.
 
Ike Quartey - Quartey was a victim of his own hype.  Choosing to fall in love with his long armed African defense, he often went dormant and lost close fights.  He was also not very active, fighting his big fights with no tune-ups, 15 months apart.  There was no conspiracy, as he often thought (although his loss to Vernon Forrest was pretty bad), it was just that when a fighter gets hurt in almost every round, and doesn't dominate, it's hard to win.  He was dropped twice by Oscar De La Hoya and Jose Luis Lopez in fights where he otherwise boxed quite well.  Both times, it cost him victory.  Fernando Vargas hurt him in nearly every round, and handed Quartey his first unquestionable loss.  However, as many times as he wobbled, and hit the canvas, it was impossible to put him away.  He was never stopped in anyway, except momentum, which was his biggest opponent.
 
Felix Trinidad - For a while there, it seemed to be a regular part of a Tito Trinidad welterweight title defense.  Tito would get hurt, or dropped, and it would wake him up.  He was even wobbled by such also-rans like Kevin Leushing, but always got back up to win.  he usually did so in style, and by KO.  As easy as Trinidad was to hurt, the only man to stop him was Bernard Hopkins, and you got the feeling that was more out of hopelessness and futility than anything else.  Like Michael Moorer before him, if you hurt him early, he'd get up and win, but if you chopped him down slowly, he'd stay hurt.  His other two losses were also due to futility: Winky Wright and Roy Jones dominated him, but they were smart enough not to hurt him too badly.
 
Juan Manuel Marquez - It is hard to believe that a fighter who has battled at the championship level for nearly a decade and a half, and been dropped 10 times has never been stopped.  However, that is the case for yet another future hall of famer. 

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2015 HEAVYWEIGHTS, SINK OR SWIM

2015 HEAVYWEIGHTS, SINK OR SWIM

I make a lot of predictions, I know.  Many of them involve specific fights, but occasionally, I like to gamble on the future of an individual fighter, network, sanctioning entity, or promotional outfit.  This time, I am doing so for a division, and only for a one-year span.  The careers of half the pound for pound top ten list is winding down to an end, and a shift will be occurring.  The big boys of boxing are also primed for a new dawn.  here's where I think a few of the divisions top fighters will be in 13 more months:
 
SWIM
Deontay Wilder - We don't now anything about him, really, and that is how Al Haymon likes it.  Stiverne has the power to shake things up, but one has to believe his passive style will make him tailor-made for Wilder.  And if you think a Klitschko unification is going to happen, think again.  Wilder is due another mandatory against Bryant Jennings, and if he comes through that ok, Haymon will give him another soft touch or two, while waiting for Big Wlad to get older.  It won't be that exciting, but he will still be unbeaten at year's end.
 
Alexander Povetkin - Povetkin's limitations were shown against Klitschko, but he should beat most other top heavyweights, including Chagaev, if they end up fighting.  Again, he will be matched carefully, but he is awaiting the Klitschko retirement as much as anyone else, and has the pedigree to still be there when he does retire.
 
Bryant Jennings - He will most likely lose in 2015, but his learning curve almost demands he will be a better fighter for it, and end 2015 on a winning note.  Future beltholder, I do predict.
 
SINK
Mike Perez - His story was inspirational, and got even moreso after he defeated Magomed Abdulsamayov, and showed genuine care in the face of the impending tragedy.  However, his draw and close loss in his next two starts showed the shortcomings, and it is probably going to get worse before it gets better.  He slugs against boxers, and boxes against sluggers, but does not adjust within fights quickly enough.
 
Bermane Stiverne - If he pulls off the upset against Wilder, he may actually fight Klitschko. 

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DECEMBER JUDGEMENT

 DECEMBER JUDGEMENT

A slow, rather uninspiring year for boxing is ending with many interesting fighters on the shelf, with nothing scheduled.  It ends with much speculation, and little confirmation.  Other than a 3rd brawl with Alvarado-Rios, and the heavyweight title fight between Stiverne and Wilder, there isn't much to look forward to.  Even Pascal v. Kovalev is in jeopardy, and I personally never think that fight will get made.  Yet, the worst way to close was with bad decisions, and we saw 3 of them in one weekend.  Tyson Cave was a legitimate victim, with a decision loss so awful, it is unparalleled since Tyrone Everett gave Alfredo Escalera a boxing lesson, and was robbed in his own hometown.  Yet, bizarrely, Mauricio Herrera has become the poster boy for bad decision victims, and I'm not sure it's entirely accurate.
 
Mauricio Herrera may have been screwed twice in 2014, losing dubious decisions to both Danny Garcia and Jose Benavides, but let's tell the whole story.  For those who do not watch ESPN, Shobox, etc. Herrera has been involved in a number of questionable calls, and not always on the losing side.  He seems to be relishing the sympathy vote, but ask Mike Dallas and Cleotis Pendarvis about fair scoring.  Both men seemed to do enough to get the decision over Herrera, yet both were denied.  Many argue that Provodnikov was unlucky with the judges in his bout with Herrera.
 
I happen to think all 3 of Provo's losses were legit, but all 3 were his only close fights, and they all went against him.  maybe he should be getting the sympathy that Herrera is getting.  Herrera does have two entirely legitimate losses to Karim Mayfield and Mike Alvarado... two fighters who have gone on to fail at the higher levels.  Provodnikov only has 3 close ones against Bradley, Herrera, and Algieri.  he ahs been relegated to fighting has-beens back home in Russia as a reward, while Herrera was handed a belt, and is still in line for a big fight.  Herrera's first loss, to Mike Anchondo was also a screw job, too... so maybe this just happens when Herrera fights.
 
Max Kellerman made a very good point about the bad decision usually following the money, but he also saw an example of the opposite happening, in the very next fight.  It's true that the bulk of bad decisions are the result of corruption.  This corruption is usually made in the interest of advancing the house fighter, or protecting the draw.  The judges are either outright bought, or the implication is handed down that the promoter will never hire a judge again, if the score does not end favorably.  Countless examples of judges who play ball being "rewarded" despite bad scores can be found throughout boxing history.  It is nothing new, and until massive judging reform happens, it will continue.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Featherweight is heading towards being the most exciting division in boxing, and it does not appear that there are any promotional problems.  Even Gary Russell, who is an Al Haymon fighter was allowed to lose to Top Rank's Lomachencko.  Russell vs. Mares or Gonzalez is an natural in-house, and Gradovich, Velez, Donaire, and Vetyeka being the appetizers makes the division look all the more exciting.  However, the fight for supremacy is Walters vs. Lomachencko.  Hard to imagine anyone handling Loma's skills, or Walters' power.  Perhaps neither, and that's why we want to see it.
 
Speaking of wanting to see it: Stiverne-Wilder has already accomplished its goal.  It is an all North American title fight in the heavyweight division, that people are talking about.  Either way, there will be a US-based heavyweight belt holder who will be recognized as the #1 contender to Klitschko.  The only other is Bryant Jennings, who Klitschko may jump ahead to fight in April.  Long dominated by Europeans, the heavyweight division seems to be slowly coming home.  Say what you want about Klitschko's dominance, men like Arreola, Mitchell, Thompson, etc at least keep trying to win when they are overmatched.  The Europeans are more than willing dance partners in dull defenses of the undisputed title.  Britain has a few exciting names, but only Fury is somewhat active and even he has been a bit exposed.
 
Speaking of exposure, I'd like to see more of Tony Harrison.  I don't just mean an opponent who can go more than a round (Brunson wasn't that guy when he was winning!).  I mean building a hometown star.  Detroit needs this more than any US city, and it seemed to work for a time in Cincinnati with Broner, and it's making a killing with Crawford in Omaha.  Take a downtrodden Midwestern city, without much to cheer for in pro sports, and give them a hero, and racial lines fall away.  These are the only scenarios in the US lately where fighters who are not Irish in the Northeast, Mexican in the Southwest, Puerto Rican in NYC, or Filipino in California are selling tickets.
 
Speaking of racial lines falling away, the trend towards ignoring them has slowly started, and I could not be happier.  Chat rooms, Twitter feeds, and Facebook groups still erupt into ignorant racism, but for the most part, the voice of those who appreciate skill and heart first is getting louder.  GGG is the biggest example, as he is attracting Mexican fans, even when facing Mexican opponents. 

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DIVISION PREDICTIONS

DIVISION PREDICTIONS

Regarding 2015, there are many hot divisions in boxing, and to be honest, it's mostly the ones who were hot before.  There isn't much to indicate heavy cooling or warming for certain divisions.  However, a subtle shift has begun, taking the focus of boxing in different directions.  Here is where I place certain divisions, and predict their 12 month future in capturing our attention:
 
Hotter:
Featherweight - This goes without saying.  It's not only talent rich with exciting fighters like Lomachenko, Walters, Gradovich, Donaire, Russell, Cuellar, etc but it appears to be the only division in boxing where the cold war does not exist.  Gonna get really exciting, as it already has started.
Heavyweight - The shift back to the USA has started.  Wilder-Stiverne, and a Klitschko Brooklyn defense, either against Jennings or Briggs.  Add to that Klitschko may be in his last year or two, and it's building towards excitement.
Junior Welterweight - This was one of the hottest in boxing for 2010-2013, but last year it fell into a deep freeze.  Peterson and Garcia continued to avoid each other, and all other hot fighters in the division: Matthysse, Broner, etc.  And that's just the GBP side!  Haymon held the division hostage, but Top Rank moved on.  Provodnikov, Algieri, Vargas already call 140lbs home, now they may get Pacquiao dropping down, and Crawford coming up!  Even if the Cold War holds firm, this division is going to get better, not worse.
 
Cooler:
Junior Middleweight - This was a hot division because people have been facing each other.  Even men like Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara... guaranteed to be avoided in most divisions, were getting all the big fights they could handle.  However, Pacquiao, Mayweather, and Canelo have all left the division.  Due to mandatories, in addition, Ronnie Shields may have 3 belts locked up within 6 months.  Lara is WBA champ, while the IBF and WBO each have a Charlo brother waiting to likely dethrone Andrade and Bundrage.  The fights to get there are not likely to be thrilling either, so until J-Rock Williams cleans out the division, it may stall for a while.
Lightweight - This poor division cannot get a break.  It must be a very hard weight to make, because people keep leaving as soon as they win a belt there.  The only ones who stay are the snoozers like Vasquez and Abril.  Crawford is leaving, as is Figueroa soon... and when Mickey Bey is the most exciting name you have, something is wrong.
 
Holding steady:
Middleweight - 160lbs should be getting more exciting, but with Cotto holding the lineal belt hostage, and Canelo waffling, there is not much to be excited about.  Jacobs and Quillin are locked in the Haymon dance of not facing each other, no matter how much sense it makes.  Andy Lee and Jermain Taylor would be intriguing against each other, and both won belts to complete nice comeback stories, but either would be sacrificial lambs to Golovkin.  This would be a 'cooler' division, but GGG will score 3 or 4 more KOs and that will maintain interest.
Welterweight - This is only holding steady because of the wide pool of talent.  We may get the big one with Mayweather and Pacquiao, but even if we don't, Khan vs. Brook, Thurman vs. Maidana, or Porter vs anyone would be exciting.  Even if we get half our options, it will be a good 147lb year.

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BIG PUNCHER, BAD FINISHER

BIG PUNCHER, BAD FINISHER

Chris Algieri famously said, during the buildup to his fight with Manny Pacquiao, that "just because I don't have a lot of knockouts, doesn't mean I don't hit hard." It turned put, for him, that it absolutely meant that.  However, there have been big punchers who did not have glittering KO records.  The reasons for this are as diverse as the fighters themselves, and today, I take a look at a few:

Diosbelys Hurtado - Hurtado dropped Pernell Whittaker twice in his coming out fight, and also finished off Randall Bailey with one ody shot to become world champion, while he also dropped hall of famer Kostya Tszyu 3 times in a title fight.  The problem with this big puncher was two fold: first, the style in which he used to create them.  He was very awkward, especially in counterpunching, and that style does not lend itself to finishing.  He also had a very weak chin, and was also dropped or KO'd in every fight I just mentioned.  When Vivian Harris is finishing you in two, and Whittaker is knocking you unconscious, your chin was not made for the highest level.Manny Pacquiao - Pacquiao only had this problem when he stepped up in weight, and quality of opposition.  He also had the bad luck of taking on men like Clottey and Margarito, who if nothing else, are iron-chinned.  His religious conversion, and hesitancy after the Marquez loss are not helping, but Pacquiao's KO record is slipping, because his weight and quality of opposition are not.  Period.  These men he is fighting know how to survive, and he is often letting them, as he does not want to walk into anything.
 
Kendall Holt - Holt barely had 13 KOs in 25 wins when he became a world champion, yet before his crushing KO of Ricardo Torres, he had made several other man unconscious with brutal KOs.  He even retained this ability as his career faltered, starching former 2-time champ Julio Diaz in 3 rounds.  he even dropped Tim Bradley twice, with his numbing single shot power.  The reason Kendall did not score as many KOs seems to be his style in getting them.  He is a boxer, without an iron chin, and his first loss was a KO in round 1, to a journeyman fighter... you guessed it, it came when he himself had his opponent hurt.  he was even down against Torres twice, before the final comeback KO shot landed.
 
Terry Norris - Norris, like Holt, had chin deficiencies that held up his attack.  He was also a brutal puncher without a ton of KOs.  However, there is an added wrinkle in Norris's game.  He was very overexcited when he had an opponent hurt, and his wildness cost him dearly.  

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NO CHIN FOR THE PROS

 NO CHIN FOR THE PROS

There are many reasons a successful amateur is not a successful professional.  The opposite is true just as often.  Johnny Nelson went 3-7 as an amatuer, and lost his first 3 pro bouts.  He ended his career with over 20 straight victories and a world title.  Sometimes they leave it all in the amateurs: Ramon Garbey of Cuba, John Bray of the USA, both examples of fighters whose desire was gone after such a long amateur career.  Other times it is simply the rounds.  Audley Harrison was one of the most brilliant 3 round fighters ever, yet could not sustain his skills for much longer than that.  The one that seems the saddest, or at least most unfortunate, is when that headgear was really necessary all along.  The chin is just not there.  Here are 3 modern examples of fighters who just could not take the punch to make it.

Michael Bennett
The 2000 Olympic team captain did not medal in Sydney, but most USA fighters did not in the 21st century.  The decision to turn him professional at heavyweight was influenced by his punching ability, and the fact that cruiserweight means less money; and back then, only was 190lbs.  It looked like a good decision at first, with Bennett wiping out clubfighter after clubfighter in one round.  However, he soon fell victim to one of these early KOs himself, at the hands of 3-4 Wes Taylor.  It was thought to be an abberation, as he avenged the loss via 1rd KO, and went right back to pummelling fighters in less than 3 minutes.  However, Bennett soon was the victim of another 1st round KO loss at the journeyman level, and all of this in his first calendar year as a pro.  Bennett finally did drop down to cruiser, but in a management error was matched with punchers Richie La Montagne and Hearn Marler.  Bennett had far more skill than either man, and was improving, but his chin could take him to the final bell.  He also suffered scary looking KOs, where he never really had his legs under him.  He saw the writing on the wall, and made the intelligent decision to stop.

Kelcie Banks
Chicagoan Banks came along at a time where USA boxers were allowed to win international decisions in amateur boxing.  This veteran of over 500 fights made the beat of it, winning World, Regional, and multiple National titles, and entering the Seoul 88 Olympics as a gold medal favorite.  However, in the first roiund of his first round match, his achilles heel was revealed.  Banks was KOd by then unheralded (but future world champion) Regilio Tuur.  He still turned pro with high expectations, but was KOd in only his second fight, and eventually 3 more times... having risen to the status of contender only briefly.  He attempted a comeback in 2002, but Nevada did not grant him a license.

Henry Tillman
Tillman was a fighter who likely would not have won gold if he had been forced to compete with the Soviets and Cubans in 1984, yet who knows? 

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DECEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

DECEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

Daniel Geale vs. Jerrod Fletcher
Australians are a pathetic 0-6 on our shores this year, so now two of them will meet back home.  The difference is Fletcher was a "who?" when he took on Jacobs, and did nothing to distinguish himself.  Geale, on the other hand, is a proven commodity outside of his showing against GGG.  Geale by wide decision.
 
Demetrius Andrade vs. Jermell Charlo
I don't know the difference in the Charlos, and cannot tell them apart.  I don't just mean in face.. I mean in style, in ranking, etc.  Other than a letter, it appears as if we have two clones.  I am glad this fight is taking place as it is two undefeated Americans without scintillating styles being matched for a belt.  Doesn't happen often, especially in a hot division like 154.  Andrade is slightly more tested, so I will have to lean that way, but nothing would surprise me here.  Andrade by MD after Charlo starts too slow.
 
Amir Khan vs. Devon Alexander
Finally, this is happening, a year later, and no closer to Mayweather.  Khan still has a very good chance of getting the Floyd fight, but the fact that he is avoiding Brook, a bigger money fight, tells you all you need to know.  Khan is not the strong, speedy mauler that gives Alexander problems (Porter, Bradley, etc.).  However, he is very quick, and offensively gifted.  Alexander is not the puncher at 147 that he was at 140, but it is not necessary to bother Amir.  Alexander has to know he doesn't stand a good chance of getting a decision, and I think that will affect his strategy negatively.  Also, his confidence should be a bit shaken as well.  Khan by 8-4 UD.
 
Timothy Bradley vs. Diego Chaves

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DECEMBER BOXIG PREDICTIONS, PART 1

DECEMBER BOXIG PREDICTIONS, PART 1

There are many fights in December, but not too many that are competitive, or important.  A lot of no-names.  A lot of stay busy fights.  This would not be objectionable if these men fought 40-5 times a year.  However, many of them are only fighting 2 times a year.  Take Danny Garcia, for example.  A loss/win against Herrera, and a gimme against Rod Salka.  Not a bad way to earn a million dollars, but pretty pathetic to put on a resume.  Al Haymon has single-handedly frozen boxing, and 2014 was quite a forgettable year.  Here's how it is mercifully ending
 
Thomas Dulorme vs. Hank Lundy
Who would have thought last year that Dulorme would be a hot prospect again and Abregu would be nursing after a KO loss.  When Abregu scored the KO win, it looked as if Dulorme was all hype, but he learned, refocused, and outpointed a clueless Karim Mayfield, and is back in the mix.  Lundy is one of the few trash talkers in boxing who realty will fight anyone anytime, and he is also one of the few boxer-punchers, who is usually in very exciting fights.  This is a tough one to call, but I like Dulorme's ability to frustrate slick boxers.  Lundy's chin is also not the greatest, though his heart is.  Dulorme by UD.
 
David Lemieux vs. Gabriel Rosado
Not sure what on earth makes this a main event.  Lemieux is a fringe contender, and I don't think Rosado has ever won a fight at middleweight. The winner of this fight does not even really deserve any new consideration in a talent rich division.  Maybe they are trying to set up an opponent for Korobov-Lee winner, or create more avoidance for Quillin and Jacobs, but either way it's irrelevant.  This fight does on its own stand to provide some action.  Rosado has the durability and tenacity that gave Lemieux problems with Rubio, so if he hes not learned, he is in trouble.  Something tells me he has, though, an that Rosado is on the tail end of his career.  Lemieux by late TKO.
 
Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs. Ola Afolabi
Hernandez and Afolabi barely fight, even in the cruiserweight rich stable of Sauerland where they both reside. 

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LIGHTWEIGHT RIVALRIES

LIGHTWEIGHT RIVALRIES

There are many definitions of a great rivalry.  Sometimes the most intense part of it takes place outside the ring.  That would have been the case in Ali-Frazier, had not the in-ring drama been unmatchable.  In my own definition, I need there to have been at least 3 fights, and at least one win by each combatant.  the lightweight division actually has less of these than one might think.  Given the fact that only 5 and 7 pounds separate the division from the others around it, it has often been transitional, especially in modern times.  Yet, I take from fairly modern eras for two of my three entries.  Also, there is no clear winner, which makes this division even more intriguing.  Very few men have dominated it for a very long time.  Ike Williams, Roberto Duran.. and even they were not untouchable.

Barney Ross vs. Jimmy McLarnin
The first great trilogy in which cultural differences were really seen at the ticket gates.  Ross, a Jewish fighter and McLarnin, of Irish descent packed in the Long Island City Madison Square Garden bowl on 3 occasions.  Racial differences had sold tickets before, but two white men from the same country might as well have been from different planets, as far as the fans were concerned.  Add to that their differing styles.  Bruising, brawling, and a bit past his prime, McLarnin actually had no business beating intelligent Ross, but his heart said otherwise.  First Ross wrested the title from McLarnin, before McLarnin got the title away in a close rematch.  By the time McLarnin had settled the score at 2 fights to 1, millions of dollars had been spent and made.  The lightweights were now a real division indeed.

Greg Haugen vs. Vinny Pazienza
The two biggest trash-talkers in the game, and they were fighting each other?  Oh, this was too good to be true.  In fact, we didn't even know their personalities, until they truly came out against each other.  Haugen went unafraid into Pazienza's home territory, and fought Paz on even terms.  The decision went Paz's way, leaving Haugen and many others crying robbery.  The rematch was a natural, and Haugen left no doubt, winning an easier UD.  In the first two fights, both fought at 135lbs, Paz had slugged with Haugen.  In the 3rd and final meeting, at 140, he had finally gotten over his Mancini complex, and got on his toes.  Although it was closer than the scorecards indicated, and was not the brawl we'd come to expect, the clear win for Pazienza evened the score, and it gave them both something to gloat and complain about for decades.

Roberto Duran vs. Esteban DeJesus
The drama could not be beat here.  

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NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

Terrance Crawford vs. Ray Beltran
Beltran is tough, durable, and hungry.  He also has a claim to the lineal WBO title, as he clearly beat Burns before Crawford did.  However, he is getting his title shot against someone I truly believe to be special.  Not Mayweather special, but enough to think that this is only the beginning of his success.  Beltran will press, and maybe even catch "Bud" a few times, but its still the same result: Crawford by wide UD.
 
Wladimir Klitschko vs,. Kubrat Pulev
We have seen this script too many times to expect anything different.  Yes, Pulev has a great jab, and boxing ability.  Yes, Klitschko has been spinning this as if its competitive.  However, that is a ticket selling ploy. Pulev has an impressive win over Tony Thompson, but style-wise, he is not what bothers Wladimir.  What bothers the champ is numbing power and durability.  Pulev is simply not ready.  Klitschko by mid rounds KO.
 
Luis Abregu vs. Sadam Ali
It is not uncommon for a slowly moved Olympian to suddenly capture our attention, but Ali has a unique fan base culturally, has been a promoter as well as a fighter, but this represents a huge step up.  Too big to pick him.  Abregu showed against Bradley and Dulorme that he can be ordinary.. but his pressure is relentless.  Abregu by decision or late TKO.
 
Felix Sturm vs. Robert Stieglitz
Who cares?  This is a battle of two people we just wish would go away, and quit clogging up the works at 160-168.  Protected German fighters who tend to lose when they step up.  Of that category, however, these are two of the most accomplished.  At the very least, they keep reinventing themselves.  Sturm by close, boring UD.

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BERNARD HOPKINS VS. SERGEY KOVALEV, ANALYSIS

BERNARD HOPKINS VS. SERGEY KOVALEV, ANALYSIS

To go a bit more in-depth about this fight, it should be said that it is one of the best 50/50 fights this year.  It may not be super exciting, but at this point, Hopkins is exciting because of what he is accomplishing, not because of the methods he is using to do so.  Much like Mayweather, the drama is in the ability, not the action.  Style-wise, this should be a slam dunk for Bernard.  The heavy handed, forward moving puncher has always been putty in his hands: Pavlik, Trinidad, Shumenov, etc.
 
Fast fighters like Dawson, Pascal, and Calzaghe give Hopkins problems, and except for Dawson, Hopkins usually manages to stay competitive with even them.  However, the x-factor here is a big one.  Kovalev is not just a puncher, he is a deadly puncher.  He is not just a deadly puncher... he making inhuman things happen.  Much like GGG, Kovalev is knocking out otherwise durable fighters, and he is doing so with jabs, and awkward punches that catch you at bizarre angles.
 
He is also doing so with a much more measured and intelligent attack than it seems at first glance.  His stoppage wins over the better offensive fighters he fought like Cleverly, White, and Sillakh were no more or less brutal than the defensive-minded boxers he KO'd, such as Campillo, Caparello, and Agnew.  Hopkins, likewise is not so invincible.  He was dropped twice by Pascal, and twice by Segundo Mercado.  These fights represent his only two draws, and 2 of his 3 trips outside the country, so take what you want from that.
 
This fight, however, is not being fought out of Hopkins comfort zone.  This is a style each man has beaten before, and beaten easily.  However, neither man, especially Kovalev, has ever faced anyone who does it this well.  That's where the intrigue comes from, as well as the questions.  How will Hopkins react when he tastes that freakish power?  What if he isn't bothered?  How will Kovalev react to that?  What happens if/when the fight gets into deep water?  Will Kovalev freeze and follow Hopkins around, getting out-boxed.  Will each man do just enough, so as to not anger the other, once the talent of each one shows through?

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NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

Chris Algieri vs. Manny Pacquiao
The internet has been abuzz with so much new information since this fight was announced.  Top Rank and Golden Boy patching things up.  HBO bringing back Oscar's fighters.  Al Haymon becoming boxing's biggest enemy for competitive fights.  Mayweather steadfastly refusing to face Pacquiao, unless he leaves Arum.  Pacquiao refusing to do so.  Does this matter come fight time?  No, Pacquiao is always focused in the ring.  Algieri, however, does matter.  Unless there is still a big gap in talent, I see a style nightmare for Manny.  Algieri is tall, smart, quick, brave, and determined.  Pacquiao's left may finish off the eye that Provodnikov started, but barring that, I am picking the upset.  Algieri by close MD.
 
Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergei Kovalev
This is a battle between two freaks of nature, for entirely different reasons.  Kovalev's power is scary, and his delivery method is even unique.  The man's jab has finished off opponents.  Other than Sonny Liston, I can't think of too many others who did that.  Hopkins' refusal to age is what makes him an "Alien".  Eventually, he is going to be too old, and many are picking this fight as the night.  However, this has never been the style to bother Hopkins.  Trinidad, Pavlik, Tarver... all brutal punchers, all couldn't hurt or win a round against B-Hop.  Hopkins will throw less punches this time, but that will be what makes it close.  Hopkins by closer than normal UD.
 
Tomasz Adamek vs. Artur Spilka
Adamek is another I wish would just retire.  However, with other shot Pole's he has always done well.  Spilka showed what little he has at the higher levels when he fought Bryant Jennings.  This is a chance for Adamek to shine, and look less done than he really is.  Adamek in a late TKO.  Shrewd matchmaking.
 
Tyson Fury vs. Dereck Chisora 2
Fury has been idle for quite some time, and during which, both men's careers have changed. 

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THIS IS NOT GOING TO HELP

THIS IS NOT GOING TO HELP

Sure enough, we finally get a fighter fighting hurt, and look what happens.  I, like many boxing fans, have been complaining about the myriad of ways that fights are being cancelled.  Injuries have derailed careers, not to mention all of the delays they cause... wasting primes!  However, we see why this past Wednesday.  The events that took place during Soliman-Taylor for the IBF Middleweight title are not going to help anyone rush to take chances, I am afraid.
 
Jermain Taylor deserves credit for staying calm and fighting the exact correct fight against an injured fighter.  For once, Taylor's patience actually helped him.  This is a fighter who was one punch away from early KO wins against Carl Froch and Kelly Pavlik.  Think where his career would be now if he had scored those wins.  However, he refused to let his hands go, and was ultimately stopped by both men.  He was not in danger of this against lighter hitting Soliman, but stole rounds, and usually at the 10-8 mark, by forcing Soliman back on his injured lead leg.
 
Taylor now has a belt, and Soliman, at age 40, is facing an uphill climb to remain vital.  Many fighters, including Taylor, are under the Al Haymon umbrella, which is not one known for taking chances.  Danny Garcia is now rumored to be pulling out of his mandatory defense against Viktor Postol (a risky fight), due to injury.  You cannot tell me that Soliman's injury did not help Haymon learn a lesson.  He is not alone.
 
Andre Ward lost the better part of 2 years dealing with a  shoulder injury (although legal problems have not helped).  Tyson Fury has faced delay after delay due to the injuries of his opponents!  Not even his most of the time!  Unless we are going to bring back fighting 5-6 times a year, fighters cannot afford many cancellations.  Soliman had a very good chance of winning that fight, had he not been injured.

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OCTOBER 2014 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

OCTOBER 2014 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

Sam Soliman vs. Jermain Taylor
Soliman is taking on an odd choice of opponent for a man who did as much calling out as he did.  Losing close controversial decisions, having to fight on the road, being rushed in his opening career.  Soliman survived it all, and after 17 years is finally a world champion.  However, he picked the one sanctioning body that enforces mandatories, so he is wasting his optional facing a shot fighter in Taylor, instead of unifying.  Not that Quillin or Cotto want any part of him... but it makes you wonder why he would not pursue the fight with GGG that he said he wanted.  But I digress.  Taylor is facing legal troubles that do not make his assignment any easier.  I have also seen nothing in his comeback that would make me think he is back to old form.  In fact, a lighter hitting fighter like Soliman may seem like the best option, but it just means he will face 12 rounds of futility against the Australian's awkward style.  Soliman by UD.
 
Carlos Molina vs. Cornelius Bundrage
I am glad K9 gets another shot.  I am glad Molina is finally back in the ring after wining the title over a year ago.  In fact, the winner of this fight is closer to a Floyd fight than you may think.  The IBF belt is the one Floyd has never had, and both fighters are Midwestern, giving Mayweather a chance to return to roots.  Not that I am predicting this, but if Molina gets the win, it would not shock me if he got a big fight down the line.  He will win, as well.  Bundrage is too wild to bother the awkward champion... and Molina is too iron chinned to buckle when K9 does get the odd shot home.  Molina by UD.
 
Odlianer Solis vs. Tony Thompson
Thompson should be done by now, but he keeps finding new life.  His loss got Pulev has many people calling Pulev the best challenger for Klitschko since David Haye and Alexander Povetkin.  Of course both of those men stunk it out against Big Wlad for 12 rounds, as will Pulev likely, but it seems to be a mark of quality.  Quality that Solis was said to have, but it has never really been shown on the world stage.  Much like his fore-bearers Ramon Garbey, Jorge Luis Gonzalez, and in size, Mike Perez, the Cuban heavyweights just get fatter when they find freedom, not better.

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OCTOBER 2014 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

OCTOBER 2014 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

Gennady Golovkin vs. Marco Antonio Rubio
In a fight dubbed "Mexican style", a not so subtle attempt to get GGG the Mexican fans, it is ironic who has become the foil.  Rubio, an actual Mexican, has been near the top of the rankings for years, for only that reason.  The WBC is Mexican, so is he.. period.  He has both won and lost explosive early KO's, close fights, and long sustained beatings.  he has also had a long career, and is nearing the end.  This is a nice cash out fight for Rubio, should he be intelligent enough to see the writing on the wall, but this match does nothing for GGG but increase the legend, and kill time.  2015 has to be his year.  Fights with Cotto, Canelo, or the winner of Jacobs-Quillin loom for him.  maybe even a jump to 168 for Andre Ward, if Ward ever fights again.  This is the last gimme he is allowed by the boxing fans and writers.  I hope he enjoys it, because we always do.  Maybe Rubio's guile and experience gets him out of the first round.. but in no way does a bell ring to end round 2.  GGG by brutal, one-sided KO, inside of 5 minutes.
 
Nicolas Walters vs. Nonito Donaire
I don't think I have ever picked against Nonito Donaire, since the first Darchinyan fight.  He is an iron-chinned power puncher.  Those guys don't even need craft to be fairly successful.  They are in every fight.  However, Donaire actually does have skills, and at his peak, the 5 division belt holder was unstoppable.  He has held every sanctioning body strap, has been unified in 2 of the divisions he fought in, and has scored highlight reel KO against other top fighters.  However, it appears the Jamaican is for real.  Walters is still a question mark, but this is the type of fight where he who was never dropped gets dropped, and may, for the first time, find his power handled somehow.  A Donaire KO is never surprising, but I am picking Walters by UD or late TKO on cuts.
 
Martin Murray vs. Domenico Spada
This is only a big deal because these two are ranked very high by the alphabet soup organizations, and they may be considered a safe defense for a GGG or Cotto type, or a first fight for Canelo, should he move to Middleweight and not tackle Cotto immediately.  In fact, Murray is one of the few who experts would pick to go rounds with GGG,

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THEY ARE GROWING UP

THEY ARE GROWING UP

Have you noticed the example that Floyd Mayweather is setting for many young African American fighters?  Oh, I am not talking about his work ethic.  That is legendary, and many young fighters aspire to even be able to handle a Money Team workout.  I am not talking about his promotion skills.  That is knowledge that comes from experience, and nothing else.  I am not talking about his masterful defense.  Most fighters talk about being a warrior more than not getting hit, nowadays.  I am talking about the formula for which Mayweather has slowly but surely gaining acceptance, and Adrien Broner is following suit.  The "hate me first, love me later" template of success.
 
Floyd is not the first.  Ali was actually the first in boxing (it had been done for decades in wrestling) to employ the idea of "the ones who hate you will pay more to see you than the ones who love you" business model in practice.  Ali's humor after his losses, and personality, as well as history proving his stances justified, all helped out to change him from a pariah into a prince.  He is now one of the most beloved sportsmen in history.  Floyd has to be seeing that.  He shares Ali's work ethic, as well as extraordinary athleticism.  He knows that gimmicks be damned, it means nothing if you are not the best... the very best.
 
Adrien Broner had a fight last Saturday with Emmanuel Taylor, where he was clearly making the attempt to follow in those footsteps.  My prediction is not that he will make it or not, but that our hatred of him in boxing's popular culture will subside.  Like Floyd, who used to burn $100 bills and revel in his riches, gradually Broner is letting people into his more human side.  He is now giving respect to opponents, and adjusting during fights.  He found himself in there with the only close tough assignment he has had in his career besides Malignaggi.  Maidana beat him cleanly, and Broner has dominated everyone else.  So, this fight was all about growth.  He is telling us about his past, and speaking softer, while still maintaining the ego and showmanship that is his trademark.  Then, after it all, he finally adjusted and upped his punch output to defeat a determined contender.  He actually came on down the stretch, while still remaining active.
 
Of course, Floyd got to get well into his 30's before softening up and becoming more human.  Floyd actually didn't want to be the heel the way Broner and Ali seemed to choose from inception.  Floyd thought he would be a golden boy like The Golden Boy, and when it didn't happen, he harnessed his great skill into being the enemy, and the very best.  His unbeaten, untouchable status for many years meant he was able to keep his persona for longer.  After Broner's last few fights (an ill-advised move to 147), he has had to "get real" quicker.  He's been beaten, and bored people.

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