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Home Boxing

Boxing Editorials

ARREOLA'S LAST STAND

ARREOLA'S LAST STAND

I have to say, there was a lot to like about Cris Arreola when he first came onto the scene.  I don't just mean as a neutral writer, but as an actual fan.  Her had my name, close to my height, and he was a blown-up light heavyweight from Los Angeles, who couldn't put the fork down.  Simply put, I could relate to the man.  He did not have a trainer with many answers for him, fought in an often sloppy style, and didn't seem to care much for training... and yet he kept winning.  Arreola was also very candid, self-deprecating, but confident, and always entertaining in the ring and out.  

No matter what, his 13 year pro-career has been a fun ride, but he may end up being the David Tua of this decade, in that he will make a lot of money, win many fans and memories, but never get that elusive world title.  Not that this place in history is a bad one... most fighters would kill for it.  However, he has always wanted to make history, and the WBC has been more than accommodating in making sure he always has a regionally invented belt and a ranking, long after most other sanctioning bodies have abandoned him.  Arreola has had two shots at the WBC Heavyweight title, and is about to get his 3rd.

 His best wins were against fighters who started slow, and had chin issues.  Yet, he cannot even seem to get past them anymore.  He is 1-0-1 draw, and 1 NC in his last 3, over journeyman-level opposition.  The NC was originally a win over Travis Kaufman, but most agree it should have been a loss.  It was overturned for a positive marijuana test, his second occurence in the last few years.  Now, while it is ludicrous to think marijuana is a performance-enhancing drug, it does show where his priorities now lie.  The KO power appears gone, and the flabby midsection, which actual hid great strength and power, now seems to match his enthusiam for fighting.  

He remains an entertaining fighter, as he is durable against all but the biggest punchers... but he himself can no longer put men away.  His KOs over Molina and Mitchell seem far in the rear-view mirror, and even if he did pounce on champion Deontay Wilder, it seems unlikely that the champion, who will have advantages in power, height, reach, speed, and youth, will be the one to come out on the short end of an exchange.  I, for one, will be cheering for him... as I like Deontay Wilder, but Arreola pulling off an upset would shake up the already hot division.  I will not be picking him, however, as I think he was selected to lose.  Much like Wilder's other recent opponents, he will go rounds, and excite, but not win, or threaten.  It's sad that "The Nightmare" is viewed that way, as at one time, he never gave his opponents a non-threatening moment.

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REMATCH OF WHAT??

REMATCH OF WHAT??

There have been very few times when a 1st round KO was considered worthy of a repeat, but it has happened.  Sometimes it's because a sanctioning body forces it.  Other times it can be due to an odd finish, or controversy.  However, as in the first fight, usually anything can happen the second time.  Let's look at a few examples:Sonny Liston vs. Floyd Patterson
Not sure why Patterson wanted this rematch.  After being dropped 2 minutes into his first fight with Liston, he either couldn't, or wouldn't, beat the count.  However, the heavyweight title had changed hands, and Liston had pretty much already cleaned out the division just getting there.  So, nine months later, they did it again.  It happened the same way, except Patterson got up twice... lasting a full 4 seconds longer than he had, originally.

Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Daniel Ponce DeLeon
This rematch was by no means immediate.  Lopez actually won his first world title and stormed onto the world scene with a 1 round drubbing of formerly iron chinned DeLeon.  He went on a tear, winning another belt as well, before a string of consecutive KOs ended his young career.  However, in that bad streak, his one big win was a rematch with DeLeon.  This time, he himself was dropped early, but still Juanma managed to finish Ponce in round 2.  Therefore, DeLeon has the dubious honor of being responsible for Juanma's first and last big wins.

Rocky Gannon vs. Dominick Carter
The lone avenging story in our list... these two USA Cruiserweights were competing for a minor belt on a televised card, when they took turns knocking each other silly.  The referee mistook a bad trip, as a stagger from Gannon, and stopped the fight.  The controversy led to the rematch, and although the fireworks were similar, the difference in talent and conditioning showed up as early as round 3.  Finally, Carter was rescued (right before he quit) in round 5.

Joe Calzaghe vs. Mario Veit
This we can blame on a bogus sanctioning body, because there was nothing controversial about the first fight.  Calzaghe battered Veit to the floor twice in round 1 and finished him.  However, that was Veit's first loss in 31 fights, so it was no surprise when 15 fights later, he re-earned a shot at Calzaghe.  Veit may have been able to beat his fellow Germans in Ottke and Beyer, but promotional problems stopped those fights, and he was no match for the Welsh hall of famer.  This time, Veit took 6 rounds to be dropped twice and finished.  He never challenged for a world title again.

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HEAVYWEIGHT HOPEFULS

HEAVYWEIGHT HOPEFULS

Gerald Washington's win over Eddie Chambers would have been more impressive, had it not been a boring fight following four televised highlight reel knockouts.  Yes, the big ponderous "Gallo Negro" did nothing to scare the heavyweight belt-holders, but following up a lucky draw against Amir Mansour with an even more skilled Philly fighter was a bold move.  Chambers has been in soft lately, but the only times in his career he has ever been dominated was when drained at Cruiserweight, and against Klitschko.  He didn't do enough to win any rounds against Washington.  However, maybe under the radar is just where they want him.  It certainly worked for Charles Martin.

Speaking of Martin, what a 2016 he has already had.  Only 6 months ago, he was preparing to face Dominic Breazale just to make the boxing world take any notice of him.  Then a series of events left him a former world champion and multi-millionaire.  First, Fury upset Klitschko, and the IBF (always the least favorable organization to being unified) found a reason to strip him.  Martin promptly cancelled the Breazeale fight, to fight for a vacant belt that he had not really done much to earn his way towards.  Then Glazkov suffered a disclocated knee in their matchup, handing Martin the title.  This alone made Martin the luckiest man in the Heavyweight division, but it wes about to get even better for him.

Instead of opting for an easy hometown defense (a la Wilder), Martin signed to face big Brit Anthony Joshua... seeing a chance to make for one night in the UK what could have taken him years to earn in the USA.  Martin was in a no-lose situation.  If he pulled off the big upset, he was king of the division, besides Fury... jumping ahead of Wilder in one move.  If he lost, which he did, he was losing to an unbeaten gold medalist, in that man's backyard.  Highly forgivable.  I think it would be marvelous if Martin set a unique example and retired with his millions, but more likely is we will see him go the way of this generation's Michael Grant.

Speaking of Joshua, he earns even more points by choosing to face another unbeaten Olympian with a high KO percentage in Dominic Breazeale.  Breazeale is rated as low as number 13 by the IBF, well below more easy pickens like Carlos Takam, Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, and fellow Brit Dereck Chisora.  However, Joshua's brand very much believes in him, and UK fans tend to forgive losses more readily than we do, so they almost have a responsibility to take risks.  This fight will most certainly be picked up by US-tv, as well, making sure the winners of Povetkin-Wilder and Fury-Klitschko will have to face him (or each other) by early next year.

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JUNE 25 RECAP

JUNE 25 RECAP

It is not often you can bill something as a big fight, and expect to get it.  Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman are 2 top 5 welterweights (now that Floyd and Manny are supposedly out of the mix), and other than Brook-Porter two years ago, none of the current crop had faced each other until Saturday night.  It was a brawl for 12 rounds, and although not likely to win fight of the year with Orlando Salido vs. Francisco Vargas out there, as well as more than half the year still available, it was exciting at the top level.  There was little actual controversy, other than with the watching-live fans.  

Porter's style makes it hard for fans to cheer against him, and most watching on TV were noticing the cleaner punches were usually Thurman's.  We do have to believe the unbeaten fighter will usually get the decision , especially in a Haymon-promoted card (Big Al loves the 0), but this decision was just.  In true stalling Al Haymon fashion, everyone was talking rematch, instead of talking Brook vs. Thurman, or Porter vs. Vargas, or Garcia vs. the winner.  I'd like to see the 147lb division tournamented, but it is not likely.  Still, if these two fought 2 more times, that is one hell of a consolation prize.

Anthony Joshua has power, speed, movement, and decent defense.  His chin is not perfect, but big punchers are hard pressed to catch it much, and when they do, he usually takes it very well.  That spells trouble for his opponents, especially Dominic Breazeale, who ironically took the nickname, "Trouble" into the ring Saturday against Joshua.  Within 2 rounds, it was clear who was going to win, and Breazeale had only to look forward to tying for the honor of extending Joshua the longest.  For AJ, the speed difference was noticeable, of feet and hands, and the maturity of the Brit also meant Breazeale was rarely given a mistake of which to take advantage.

 As many have said, fighters make belts, not the other way around.  That is definitely true here.  The IBF stripping of Fury was a bogus decision, but with he and Klitschko waiting what will likely end up being nearly a year to have their rematch, Wilder and Joshua have been given an opportunity to shine.  Wilder could have accelerated with a win over Povetkin, but he was denied the chance, due to Povetkin's "accidental" doping.  Luis Ortiz is not being active enough, nor getting top challengers to fight him, after his one-sided beat-down of Bryant Jennings.

Therefore with a couple of wins over unbeaten American contenders (Martin and Breazeale), Joshua has leapt over the pack.  Forget Ruslan Chagaev, who is only in the discussion due to corruption.  Lucas Browne beat Chagaev, but did not look good doing so, so no one thinks Browne will beat any of the top heavyweights.  Joseph Parker belongs in the Martin and Breazeale (unbeaten but untested) category, and he is Joshua's mandatory.  Therefore, by the end of this year, there may be a more legit case for AJ being the real top heavyweight as for anyone else.  Either way, the division is fun again.  And God save the queen, for helping us out with that.

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PICK YOUR HOMETOWN DEFENSE WISELY

PICK YOUR HOMETOWN DEFENSE WISELY

I do have to say that for the most part, a hometown defense should be just that.  At first, anyway, a new champion should be able to defend against a soft touch at home.  This is especially true if he has had a tough schedule, and not fought at home before.  Virgil Hill, Aaron Pryor, and others who fought in their hometown many times needed to have both tough and easy fights there, which they did.  Cory Spinks belongs on this list as well, for losing 3 times in his hometown... but he has also had a couple big wins in St Louis, and all his defenses were tough.  Today, however, I will look at 3 times where fighters picked the wrong guy to bring home to a packed arena.  

Sergio Martinez (Martin Murray)
After a few years atop the division, and riding high after his win over JC Chavez Jr, Maravilla decided to have a hometown defense in Buenos Aires.  Not only did he pick a bad time (rain pouring down, while recovering from a knee injury), but he picked one of the most durable and difficult middleweights out there. Murray is still the fighter to extend GGG the longest, but at the time he fought Martinez, he was unbeaten, and was coming off a robbery draw against Felix Sturm.  Italian Domenico Spada would have satisfied a mandatory, and likely ended in an easy TKO win for Sergio.  Instead he won a close squeaker, and further injured his leg... ultimately leading to a layoff, title loss, and retirement.

Danny Garcia (Mauricio Herrera)
Puerto Rico should not really be called his hometown/place, given that he was born and raised in Philadelphia.  However, Garcia is of PR descent, and always wanted to have a defense there.  Therefore, after his biggest win (over Matthysse), he came to the island to defend.  He picked a Mexican American, known for winning and losing close decisions, as well as his granite chin.  What happened was what happens in every Herrera fight.  It went all 12, and could have gone either way on the judges cards.  Garcia got the decision, of course, but Herrera won the event.  Considering it was entirely an optional defense, one has to wonder what possessed the usually carefully managed Garcia to choose that opponent.

Mike Alvarado (twice!)
Not once, but twice has Alvarado fought in front of his Denver fans in a title fight.  He is also 0-2.  Ruslan Provodnikov and Brandon Rios were fighters whom a motivated Mike Alvarado could outbox.  However, his chin would not hold up against either, and ultimately two corner surrenders are the way his hometown fans have to remember him.  It is a shame for a man who had other great performances in L.A. and Las Vegas, but the Denver faithful never got to see much of it.

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MORE RUSSIAN DRAGO-DRUGS

MORE RUSSIAN DRAGO-DRUGS

So, Wilder-Povetkin is off.  It seems every Russian fight lately is marred by a "drug" issue.  First, it was the dubious way that previously 100% clean athletes were 'testing positive' coincidentally after beating Russian fighters.  This has happened to Guillermo Jones and now Lucas Browne in the past couple of years.  Fishy, to say the least.  However, the one fighter who lost in Mother Russia with no corruption aiding him in the last few years was Povetkin (against Klitschko).  Now, it seems it has happened to him again.  

Povetkin has tested positive for a substance that was recently banned.  It is still in his system, he says, from having taken it before it was banned, but that story seems a bit flawed.  First off, it sounds highly illegal in that it improves stamina by affecting oxygen levels in a synthetic form.  How could they not have seen it coming, that this would be a banned substance?  Why are fighters taking anything anymore?  Just eat fruits and vegetables for christ's sake, and retire when your body quits.  Is this so hard?  

Were fighters gassing out any worse back in the days of white bread and soda than they are now?  No, they were fighting longer, and more rounds, and more often.  Nutrition and exercise are the most important things anyway.  If fighters are going to cancel fights every time something is sore, and only fight twice a year, why the hell do they need so many supplements?  Their bodies are not being taxed to any level, comparable to the old school fighters.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand why fighters would be taking anything stronger than a multivitamin, and even then... running it by the VADA doctors first.  

Entire careers are being ruined, and for what?  The corrupt "slipping in the drink" is happening too much anyway.  Why would you knowingly risk your health and career to do something completely unnatural?  Rocky IV was probably one of the hokeyest of the franchise, but they sure hit the nail on the head in the one scene where Ivan Drago is injected, without asking a single question.  I, for one, do not relate!

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JULY 2016 PREDICTIONS

JULY 2016 PREDICTIONS

July is not usually a hot month, for the reason that it is a hot month.  Summertime activities in much of the USA has people outside until late hours when fights would normally be started.  however, in 2016, we feel fight fans will be headed indoors to watch many great action match-ups.  Many of them are mid day, as they are being held at European venues.  Sounds like a great summer weekend to me.  I like this new approach, in fact, I like that one of these big fights is not even taking place on a weekend.  I would love to see the return of midweek championship boxing.

Tyson Fury vs. Wladimir Klitschko 2
There is not much to be said here.  Anything could happen, and it would not be really much of a surprise.  There are just too many what-ifs.  If Klitschko was indeed shot, then Fury will dominate again, maybe in even more dull fashion.  If Fury is indeed unmotivated, as he claims, perhaps he will be blown out in a couple of rounds.  However, given his youth, and the potential domestic showdowns of Haye and Joshua looming, as well as unifications with men like Ortiz and Wilder... he has plenty of time to "lose on purpose" as he in insinuating.  Klitschko is probably not going to start taking more chances at age 40... and barring a lucky punch, I think he is headed for an even more one sided decision loss.

Sergey Kovalev vs. Isaac Chilemba
Monday night HBO?  I love it, but it's probably an issue of how little they think of this fight.  Chilemba is tough and durable, but this fight is only happening, so that Kovalev does not gain any rust while waiting for Andre Ward to shake his off.  Unless he pulls off the performance of his life, I think we are looking at another Cedric Agnew like result... where we get rounds, but little else.  Kovalev by 6th round KO.

Deontay Wilder vs. Chris Arreola
This fight was inevitable, as PBC cards were featuring both Arreola and Wilder.  As bad as Arreola has been looking lately (draw, and close decisions wins over journeyman, that should've been losses), this is his last hurrah.  Depending on WBC decision over Povetkin, Wilder may even get to unify before facing one mandatory, but he will have given us action KOs in the interim.  Arreola has better offense than Wilder's recent victims, but his chin and defense are not good enough anymore to avoid Wilder's bombs.  His only chance is to strike first, and catch Wilder cold.  I think the only winner there is Deontay.. and the fans.  Wilder by exciting 3rd round KO.

Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergio Mora 2
While nobody was asking for this rematch, it is a fight where both men hit the canvas in only 2 rounds of action, the first time out.  Mora lost on a broken ankle, so it "justified" a second chance.  Jacobs is riding high since then, after the Quillin KO, and Mora keeps getting big fights whether he earns them or not.  The prize for the winner is a KO loss to GGG, most likely, so a win here will at least get them paid.  Mora rises to the occasion in his bigger fights, but Jacobs just has too much.  Jacobs by decision or late TKO.

Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Jazza Dickens
Rigo finally has his UK visa, and while I think he should be dropping down, and raising up divisions, to collect belts from the two Lees, Haskins and Selby, this may be the first start in that direction.  There is also Jamie McDonald, and Frampton, should he come back to 122 with his tail between his legs after losing to Santa Cruz.  The UK is the right place for him, if he stays busy, but I'm not sure Jazza Dickens in the right guy to tell us anything new.  Rigo by wide UD, or late TKO.

Adonis Stevenson vs. Thomas Williams
'Top Dog" Williams is coming off a great KO win on a night of great KO wins in Carson, but hHaymon is protecting few men as blatantly as he is protecting Stevenson.  Williams himself was hurt in his last fight, and was once KOd by light hitting Gabriel Campillo.  Not that Stevenson has the greatest chin, but the skills are in a different league.  Adonis and Haymon can't avoid fellow Montrealer Eleider Alvarez forever, but it looks like they are going to try.  Stevenson by early spectacular KO, in an exciting fight, but a complete waste of time.  Bring on Alvarez and Beterbiev.

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton
Frampton's intelligence and quickness have won him a lot of fights, but just ask any Santa Cruz opponent how far those things take you.  Leo pressures and is an immovable force.  he also does it with intelligent pressure, and beats journeyman and world champions alike with the same determination and exhausting in-your-face pressure.  He can even outbox you, but I doubt he will try that against Frampton.  A KO is a possibility, as Santa Cruz has gotten stronger as he has moved up, but more than likely Frampton will win a few early rounds, and then lose the rest, while surviving.  Santa Cruz by UD.

Terence Crawford vs. Viktor Postol
The first major unification in a long time that promoters did not stall us on.  Each man seemingly just won their belts, and now they are crowning a new Ring champion at 140.  Each man is also risking their unbeaten records and Top Rank's expectations.  However, Bob Arum is even greedier than Haymon about keeping it all in house, therefore this was really his only option than the fans would accept.  Postol is poison for most styles, but nothing he does will bother Bud Crawford.  The right hand counter will just have Crawford turn orthodox.  The tendency to get stronger as the fight goes on, is something they both share.  They even possess the same sturdy chin, but Crawford hits harder, and unlike Matthysse, hits often.  Crawford by UD.

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JUNE 11 RECAP

JUNE 11 RECAP

John Molina got a well-deserved win over Ruslan Provodnikov in a less-than expected, but still exciting matchup.  Molina and Provo have each given us enough thrillers, so they are allowed to have a B+ fight every now and then.  It was still exciting, but true to form, Ruslan can even make sluggers box.  In this same building more than one year ago (Turning Stone Casino) the same thing happened to Lucas Matthysse.  I think the bloom is off the Provodnikov rose, and even he seemed to acknowledge it.  A loser of 5 close-ish decisions, he had always felt he did enough to win in the other scenarios.  His complaints lessened each time from Herrera to Bradley to Algieri to Matthysse, to Molina, when he finally looked saddened and resolved to his fate.

We may have seen the last of Provodnikov, as a fighter like him si not supposed to have a long career anyway.  Plus, without hunger, a fighter like him is living on borrowed time anyway.  For Molina, he finally did something I had been suggesting his whole career... found his jab.  I am not sure if it was situational for this fight, or Shaheed Suluki was finally the trainer who made it happen, but even with average boxing skills, he was light years better.  As an open-promoted fighter, he is available to anyone, and may even get the Crawford-Postol winner.  Although I'd rather see him in an exciting scrap with Ricky Burns or Eduard Troyanovsky.  Still considered highly beatable, this was the perfect win for him to advance his career.

Another former Soviet-Bloc fighter, Ukraine's Vasyl Lomachenko looked as good as one could look against Rocky Martinez.  True, Martinez has gotten a couple questionable verdicts go his way, but other than his fight with Mikey Garcia, he has been competitive against everyone, and never been stopped.  He was dominated by Loma, and knocked flat out.  There is no louder statement.  Loma would be heavily favored over the only fighter to beat him: Orlando Salido, and hopefully we will see that rematch soon.  However, the 130lb division has many options: rematches and first fights: Vargas-Miura 2, Vargas-Salido 2, Loma-Salido 2, Loma-Miura, Loma-Vargas, Salido-Miura... all would be amazing scraps, and they have already fought each other many times.  There are no promotional hiccups to these matches.  The boxing world has been waiting for a scenario like this in any division for a long time... a true throwback round robin of competitive matches.

In other action, Rico Ramos got back into the win column, but did very little to make anyone think he will be world champion again.  He does not shy away from tough competition, however, and like fellow SoCal native John Molina, has pulled multiple fights out of the fire with KO wins.  Dejan Zlaticanin looks like the real thing, and his record backs that up.  I do not see anyone at 135 lbs that can beat him, and Jorge Linares would be wise to stay away.  The Montenegrin has already been to the UK once to beat Ricky Burns, and I'd pick him over both Crolla and Flanagan.  Much like Quigg and Frampton, that unification must happen, before a better foreign fighter beats the winner.  For Frampton, it was Rigo (whom he ducked).  For Flanagan, it would be Zlaticanin.  He is that good.

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BRITISH UNIFICATIONS

BRITISH UNIFICATIONS

Ok, so the Scott Quigg vs. Carl Frampton match-up did not sizzle until the last few rounds, but at least this unification happened.  The UK is on fire, and it should continue.  However, I'd like to see the British belt count lessened through the best way possible for the fans... unifications.  I know it's an ugly word for sanctioning bodies, but they invent enough interim, silver, etc belts to keep making money.  These fights all make sense, and I hope we see them soon.  In most cases, as well, they crown/defend a Ring magazine championship.

Jamie McDonnell vs. Lee Haskins (WBA/IBF bantamweight)
The two Brits have history.  One of McDonnell's two losses is to Haskins, much earlier in both men's careers.  They also have a chance of getting Rigo in the ring (the Cuban is closer to dropping in weight than rising, as he has always stated), now that he has a UK Visa.  After testing himself and getting two close decisions in Texas on USA-TV, this would seem like a lesser risk, a chance to unify, and avenge a loss.  It makes too much sense.  Haskins is also getting long in the tooth for a UK lighter weight fighter.  Now is the time to strike.  Pick: McDonnell by UD.

Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua (WBO/IBF/WBO heavyweight)
I know this matchup is assuming a lot of things... that Joshua will be moved fast enough to challenge Fury before the unpredictable Tyson loses the linear title; that Joshua beats Breazeale, and that Fury beats Klitschko.  because of many international and domestic options, it is unlikely that we will see this one at all, much less within a year.  I think it would be massive as Brits tend to forgive losses more than we do, so the risk is not rally a risk.  Both men have already overachieved many expectations, and proven their ability to entertain (albeit in different ways) whether they win or lose.  Pick: Joshua by mid rounds TKO, maybe while behind on points.

Anthony Crolla vs. Terry Flanagan (WBO/WBA lightweight)
I have discussed this one before, but it's asinine that this would not be happening now.  Crolla is a vulnerable, but streaking champion, with an inspiring back-story.  He could also lose the belt at any point, and is the one calling Flanagan out.  Flanagan can collect another belt, in a huge hometown scrap (they are not only both from the same town... they are both from the same school!).  Other than promoter ego, I cannot see a reason why this would not happen, but that does not make me confident.  Pick: Flanagan by UD.

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RIP TO THE GREATEST

RIP TO THE GREATEST

I met him at the Forum in 1991. I had just turned 15, which means he had just turned 49.  The entire packed arena stopped and stared with reverence, as he walked in. He passed out previously signed autographs, as he was already moving too slowly to sign them in real time. I took two of them from him (for the guy behind me as well), and said "Thank you, Champ."  The autographs were on a Muslim propaganda pamphlet, as he was and is the only American that could get away with things like that.   It angered no one when he did it.   He'd earned it, with what he had been put through/put himself through.

He was a draft dodger, a serial womanizer, and had joined the Black Muslims when they were little more than a prison gang. To come back from where he was in our eyes, to being the most beloved athlete in the history of sports, was a feat never accomplished before, and will not likely happen again.  In an age where the baby boomers were making "mine mine mine1" the modus operandi that still pervades today, Ali was the picture of "earned it".  He could preach to anyone about anything, and we would listen. He was a brilliant orator, but few knew the reason for that was his severe dyslexia, making other forms of communication difficult.

In fact, after two decades of many Americans wishing the "Louisville Lip" would quit talking, we had just realized his genius, as it was being taken from us/him.  We'd give anything to hear one of his interviews again. He was alive, but for the last 35 years, we could not hear from the man inside the way we once had.  He was the only man Howard Cosell would let get the better of him in interviews.  The only man to accurately predict which round in which he would stop opponents.  He found ways to beat men that had his number: Norton, Frazier. He had fast hands, and the fastest feet in heavyweight history.

74 years might be riding a national average, but for a man who lived so many lives in one, and suffered the ravages from Parkinson's as early as 1980... he still outlived most of his contemporaries: Sonny Liston, Zora Folley, Jimmy Young, Joe Frazier, Oscar Bonavena, Eddie Machen, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry, Bob Foster, etc.  We were expecting this day for decades... but you are never really ready for it. RIP to the original G.O.A.T., Muhammad Ali.  There will be no bigger name in sports in my lifetime.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

I love that Andre Ward is taking a tune-up fight before the Kovalev matchup.  He has earned the right to do so, with all he has accomplished in the ring.  This also gives Kovalev a chance to prove longevity, have a hometown fight, and gather anticipation, because there actually is a deadline for the fight.  This also gives Stevenson, Beterbiev, as well as the other couple of Haymon light heavies a chance to maybe face each other (fat chance) and develop a number one contender for the winner.  More than likely the time will make it easier to forget Haymon's stable, but he will have no one to blame but himself for wasting everyone's time.  Either way, the buildup for Ward-Kovalev is being handled perfectly... assuming the fight comes off, of course.

Canelo, on the other hand, just had his tune-up.  Amir Khan is a very good fighter, but two divisions below, and with exactly the correct weaknesses to make sure Canelo was guaranteed a victory.  Canelo was becoming a modern fighter in his activity (2x a year), but a throwback in that he took a lot of risky fights.  That all goes out the window if he avoids GGG.  He truly has nothing to lose.  he has a good enough chin to not be embarrassed by GGG... and he can go back down and try to clean out 14 again, or stay at 160, when GGG moves up.  However, GGG is already in talks with 168lb-ers like Ramirez and Eubank.  If that happens, the potential for matches below that limit start to dry up.  Oscar himself said it would be a tragedy is this fight does not happen.

Speaking of tragedy, I wrote a full blog post on Muhammad Ali's passing, but to add a wrinkle here... most of the time when we lose a legendary boxer, it happens quickly, or after a brief illness.  we also lose many more of them than the general population, due to tragedy.  Maybe that is due to the impoverished conditions most of them came from (and sadly often return to), as well as the dangers of the sport itself.  However, the death of the original GOAT was something in the making for 35 years.  We saw him regressing before he even retired.  Parkinson's does not kill your higher faculties, so Ali was the same man inside until the day he died... but I am not sure if that was worse.  A man with his gifts of eloquence, not being able to express them, had to be difficult.

Speaking of difficulty, while Rigo and Ward are some of the most difficult fighters to fight, and GGG and Kovalev are two of the scariest, Rances Barthelemy might be the most frustrating... he gives nearly every quality opponent the feeling that they are in the fight, or close to landing a punch.  he attacks squared up, or boxes off the back foot with his weight shifted badly.  It keeps looking like you should be able to hit him, beat him, hell, even win rounds, but round after round, he finds a way to make it all his own way.  Talent that dominates is one thing.  Talent that keeps tricking you into thinking you have a chance is another.

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THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

Watching boxing, you see every conceivable body type in the ring.  The long lean Tommy Hearns, the short explosive Mike Tyson, but every now and then a fighter goes against the stereotype of their size.  Paul Williams being a pressure fighter, even with massive height and reach advantages is a good example.  Today, I will look at a few short fighters who were not big punchers.  This stereotype works when thinking of Marciano, Frazier, and Tyson... 3 of the most famous heavyweights of all time.  Of course, why pressure if your punches do nothing.  However, these 3 men achieved some level of success in the ring, even though they lacked both pop and stature.  This is a common occurrence in female boxing, but for the men, it is quite rare.

Willie Pep - yes, all featherweights are fairly short, however, even against the rare tall fighter, Pep was usually untouchable.  A punch that could not crack an egg was another characteristic, but then again, how would we know?  He never slowed down enough to set his feet.  Pep was the consummate master boxer, and most writers have him in their top 20, if not top 10 all time greats list.  Even after a plane crash, well past his prime, against a much taller brutal punching fellow hall of famer (sandy saddler), he managed to outbox him over 15 rounds in one of their matchups.  Very impressive.

Leonard Dorin - Dorin fought in an amateur style for much of his pro career, but anyone who holds a dominating win against the ultimate spoiler, Emanuel Augustus, has to be doing something right.  Dorin was squat, but inexhaustable, and fought well with pressure, even if he was not hurting his opponent.  most even had him beating Spadafora in their unification clash, which was ultimately called a draw.  He achieved this with expert timing, and visibly impressive schooling.  he also only suffered one defeat, from a body shot against Arturo Gatti, meaning he got out before any damage was done from his style, and ability to go rounds.

Kahren Haryutunyan - It is rare for a fighter to attain a top ten ranking and regional belt without a single Ko in 20 fights.  It is also rare for a fighter to quit in his mid 20's, and pursue a career in both boxing promotion and law.  Haryutunyan was not typical, however.  A UCLA student for much of his career, Haryutunyan was a flyweight who won an NABO belt, and gave Nonito Donaire his only competitive fight between 2001 and 2013.  He managed to accomplish this while giving up height and reach in virtually all of his fights, and never scoring a single knockout... retiring with a 14-3-3 record.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

If McWilliams Arroyo was robbed against Ruenrong, then in a way, Chocolatito has already cleaned out the division.  He has beaten Estrada and Viloria.  I hope he goes up to 115 to face Inoue.  The Ruenrong fight would be dull anyway, and the Thai fighter is pretty good at lateral movement.  Therefore, he will likely run for the hills against Gonzalez.  Who else is there at 112?  Zou Shiming?  No way Arum let's that fight happen, until he has milked every penny from the over-hyped Chinese amateur star.  We missed out on the first 2 1/2 divisions of Chocolatito's career, so we may only have 12 or so fights left to enjoy.  Let's make it memorable.

Speaking of memorable, I am glad Amir Khan is getting credit for taking the fight against Canelo, and for doing well until the brutal KO we all predicted actually occurred.  However, I also remember many of the same people who are crediting Khan, being the ones who blasted Adrien Broner for losing to Marcos Maidana.  At the time, Broner had moved up from 135 to 147 only months earlier, and had never taken on anyone at welterweight with power.  He also got up twice, and made the fight somewhat competitive.  I understand Khan is a lot more likeable than Broner, but appreciating accomplishment should be done with non-hypocritical integrity.

Speaking of integrity, the WBC needs to investigate every single judge that works a Canelo fight.  It seems in every fight, he is given at least two rounds he did not earn.  Trout, Lara, Mayweather, Cotto, and now Khan.  In every fight, the right man still managed to get the decision (or have it rendered unimportant), so the outcry has been small.  However, given this trend, and the WBC's history of favoritism involving Mexican fighters, it is only a matter of time until a highway robbery occurs.  Let's hope it is not against GGG, but I can already see that coming.  If it is remotely close, expect a screw-job decision.  There is too much money in a rematch.

Speaking of officials and Canelo, it is not simply the judges we should be worried about.  Referees have a tendency to stop fights at odd times in favor of the Mexican star.  Alfonso Gomez, Ryan Rhodes, Kermit Cintron, Alfredo Angulo, and Josesito Lopez all had referees choose to wave it off at a time when they were on their feet, fighting back.  Once again, in every case, Canelo was dominant, and would have won anyway, but it is a potentially worrisome trend that the officials are so consistently in one fighter's pocket.

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JUNE 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

JUNE 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

Francisco Vargas vs. Orlando Salido
Drug testing not withstanding, this fight is highly anticipated for many other reasons.  These are two men who routinely engage in FOTY type brawls, and the winner is likely to face Vasyl Lomachenko, if he gets past Roman Martinez.  A unification match-up that will be great no matter who the two winners are?  You had me at "hola".  Salido never gets old, and usually gets stronger as fights go on, but it is hard to pick against Vargas after how he looked against Takashi Miura.  This is a pick 'em fight, but I like Vargas in an action packed majority decision.Artur

Beterbiev vs. Ezeqiuel Maderna
Beterbiev is finally back in action, and in true fashion of his promoter, Al Haymon, he is not facing any of the other big dogs in the Haymon 175'b stable.  Maderna's only two losses came against then-unbeaten Edwin Rodriguez and Tommy Oosthuizen, and he was competitive against both, but having a good chin against Beterbiev just prolongs the agony.  Beterbiev by mid to late rounds TKO, and hat's being generous to the Argentine.

Roman Martinez vs. Vasyl Lomachenko
This is the other half of the 130lb sweepstakes that will lead to a consensus world champion in the division.  Martinez has never been known for his easy schedule, but other than his loss to Mikey Garcia, no one has ever conclusively beaten him.  He may have been lucky against Salido in the rematch, and Burgos earlier in his career, but he was always competitive.  I believe Lomachenko is in that elite Mikey Garcia class, however, and this one will not be as hard.  Lomachenko by wide UD, in an exciting fight.

Ruslan Provodnikov vs. John Molina
This is one of those fights that has "fight of the year" written all over it, before either man has thrown a punch.  Neither man takes backward steps.  Neither man uses much boxing skill, except relentless pressure.  Neither man knows what a jab even is.  These are also two men whose stock goes up more with losses than wins, as long as they win one every now and then.  Provodnikov has the far better chin, however, and another pressure fighter is tailor made for him.  Provo by KO in the mid to late rounds, unless his face busts up beyond recognition early.

Demetrius Andrade vs. Willie Nelson
Nelson is a spoiler who it is easy to root for.  If you are anything less than 100% for real, Nelson will usually figure it out.  Also, Andrade has been off, and seems to have rekindled his promoter issues by signing away from the entity where all his 154lb competition resides.  Unless he signs with Haymon, or goes to England to face Liam Walsh, he will remain largely belt-less and opponent-less.  However, he is looking to get his hands on another title belt, at a time when the others are all up for grabs, so maybe some good fortune will happen if he wins.  He will.  He is still too good, and I think unless Nelson fights the fight of his life, we will see Boo Boo stay unbeaten in a clear cut UD.

Shawn Porter vs. Keith Thurman

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RUSSIAN CONSPIRACY

RUSSIAN CONSPIRACY

There is no such thing as a failed drug test in Russia.  How many times are we going to watch fighters who have never tested positive before, constantly testing positive in the same country, and only when they beat local favorites?  Lebedev's people got away with it twice against Guillermo Jones, an otherwise clean fighter for over a 20 year career.  Now, Ruslan Chagaev's people are attempting the same nonsense with Lucas Browne.

 I hope the WBA stops being a willing patsy to this, and starts discounting the Russian drug tests.  It is obvious that some entity is either bribing/threatening the VADA reps, or slipping a mickey in the foreign fighter's food and water. Until some resolution can be passed, I call for a boycott of all foreign fighters going to Russia.  I don't care how powerful Al Haymon is here... in Russia, he is nothing, and Deontay Wilder should be very concerned about risking his title against Povetkin this spring.  

Ironically, the only recent fighter to gain a victory over a Russian in Russia is Wladimir Klitschko, who trounced Alexander Povetkin.  He got away with it, yet thinks he was poisoned in Las Vegas against Lamon Brewster.  I would agree with him.  It was a bizarre sight.  By the time Klitschko fought Povetkin, however, he was able to call all his own shots, choose his own accommodations/meals, and even communicate with anyone, as he speaks Russian fluently.  For other fighters going over to fight, they do not have these options.  They must rely on the other fighter's promoter to be fair.  In this scenario, they are certainly not.

 Even Tyson Fury was afraid that his post-fight drug test would be tampered with after beating Klitschko, but he escaped without controversy.  Also, there needs to be a change in what a drug test result gets us.  A steroid is worthy of overturning a result.  Certainly weight loss drugs and marijuana are not changing the outcomes of fights.  It's absolute nonsense, and merely a way for a snot-nosed immature promoter to throw a tantrum and get his fighter's belt back under the guys of "cheating" when in reality, it is the exact opposite.

 I do not recognize Lebedev as a champion at Cruiserweight, and Chagaev was not ever a legit belt-holder at heavyweight.  This robbery and corruption will continue, however, until the fighter refuse to go over there.  When faced with becoming an insular boxing wasteland, Russian promoters will think twice.  They have gotten uppity, and the Browne result should be the tipping point for real change. Let's hope it is.

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MAY 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

MAY 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan
Alvarez has a lot in common with Manny Pacquiao, in that he rarely scores KOs anymore, but is still viewed as a big puncher.  Maybe that hype is why Khan figured he was safe.  Canelo, however, is used to having a big speed edge over his opponents, and will have anything close to that here.  In fact, the one time he fought anyone as fast as Khan, he lost to Floyd Mayweather.  Khan has been knocked out by lightweights, so one shudders to think what would happen when hit by a man who weighs 170 on fight night, but I don't think that will happen.  Khan has not found himself in much trouble at all since moving up to 147.  Part of that is not fighting big punchers, but I think it is mostly due to the fighters being bigger, slower, and Khan can brace himself for the punches.  Alvarez's scorecards always favor him... he always seems to get a few more rounds than he;s rightfully earned, so all he has to do is crowd Khan, make the rounds close, and his victory is assured... but a blowout or brutal KO is not likely.  Alvarez by close UD.

David Lemieux vs, Glen Tapia
If you ask me, each man could be considered ruined by a recent beating from a hard-hitting opponent, however, Lemieux has already shown the ability to come back and reinvent himself.  GGG was supposed to beat him, and he went 8 rounds, without ever getting dropped from a head shot.  The only thing the Canadian doesn't do, is get much better.  Tapia, on the other hand, has already shown against Michel Soro that his chin has not recovered from the James Kirkland pounding.  Why they are letting him fight a brutal puncher like Lemieux, I have no idea.  Yet another bizarre decision in the mismanaged career of the Jersey native.  Lemieux by brutal KO, inside of 2 rounds.

Deontay Wilder vs Alexander Povetkin
If I were Wilder, I'd refuse to take any drug tests.  The Russians not so subtle plan is pretty obvious and clear... they did it to Guillermo Jones twice, and now to Lucas Browne.  basically, they spike your food, so that if you win, you come up "dirty".  While Povetkin certainly has the skills to beat almost anyone at heavyweight, he may need that corruption here.  Povetkin does not possess the best powers of adjustment.  He pretty much does what he does, and if it works, great, but if not, it will be a long night.  Wilder has gotten just careful enough to pick his spots, and barring getting caught first, he should explode onto Povetkin, after a dull first few rounds.  Wilder by 5th round KO.

Denis Lebedev vs. Victor Emilio Ramirez
After his management stole back the belt he lost to Guillermo Jones, they have been very careful with Denis Lebedev.  This unification may look like a step back in risk column, but it hardly is. The home-field advantage again means Lebedev is assured a decision win, and Ramirez only ascended to the IBF strap because Yoan Hernandez retired with injury.  The WBC beltholder Grigory Drozd just did the same thing, therefore the winner of this fight will meander to the top of the division (even if either man would lose to the Glowacki-Cunningham winner).  Ramirez is coming off of a hometown draw against a 25-13 journeyman, if that is any indication.  Lebedev by wide decision.

Erislandy Lara vs. Vanes Martirosyan 2
Kudos to Martirosyan for taking this fight, but I said that the first time.  For a man moved as slowly and carefully as Vanes, to get his title shots against Lara twice and Demetrius Andrade shows either bad timing, or finally confidence.  This fight was just starting to truly turn for Lara when it was stopped on a headbutt and ended as a technical draw the first time.  I don't think it will be that close this time.  Lara by wide UD, or maybe late TKO on cuts or swelling.

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APRIL 9 RECAP

APRIL 9 RECAP

So, the UK now has a lead over the USA 12-9 in pro boxing titlists after Broner weighed in heavy, and Joshua topped Martin.  It's just as well, as their fans actually support them over there.  I have lived in England before, and if I were a pro fighter, I would move right back.  Anthony Joshua's win over Charles Martin was very impressive, but we only got to see two rounds of it.  What we have learned is that he is adaptable to the different styles he fights, and that he hits like a mack truck.  Most heavyweights can hit, as he himself said... so it's also a good sign that he is not resting on his power laurels.

The heavyweight division is exciting again, and I think a unification between Joshua and the Wilder-Povetkin winner is more likely than the Klitschko-Fury winner.  Klitschko will probably retire if he wins the belt back, and Fury will have mandatories accruing if he wins... with Browne and Ortiz, no less.  The IBF, however, is known for hating to be unified more than most titles, so Joshua may have to face a useless mandatory next.  If I were Eddie Hearn, I would keep him busy.  A 2x a year schedule cheats him out of development, and the fans out of action.  He must stay very active to keep his skills improving, as well as his name in the forefront of people's minds.  Imagine if Tyson fought twice a year at this stage, instead of twice a month!

Speaking of deposed German-based fighters, maybe we have finally gotten rid of Arthur Abraham.  Zurdo Ramirez took the old man to school, and without corrupt German judges to bail him out, the scorecards reflected that.  I hope he gets Jack or DeGale if the two do not face each other.  For 'Outlaw' Eric Hunter, his maturity issues showed yet again in his title challenge against Lee Selby.  It was bothersome when he was 20.  His lack of focus, and whining at the ref, is pathetic at his age.  He doesn't have the mental tools, and his corner seemed equally as immature and unequipped.  Meanwhile Selby served notice to all featherweights (who will likely avoid him) that division does not start and end with Loma, Russell, and Santa Cruz.

Pacquiao beats Bradley again!  Congratulations Bob Arum, you fleeced the public once more.  Pacquiao gets to ride off into the sunset as a winner, and no one will talk about Crawford - Bradley anymore, leaving you to pad the Nebraskans record for the time being.  however, both men deserve credit for getting into exchanges a bit more.  While Pacquiao was certainly more careful that he was pre-Marquez 4, he did let the leather fly enough to score two knockdowns, and Bradley was tentative, but gave enough for better exchanges than in the first tow fights. However, the problem  remained for Bradley.. Pacquiao's speed and timing frustrate him to the point of trying to time one shot.  he then gets outworked.  It would happen if they fought 100 times.  Teddy Atlas cannot fix that.

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APRIL 2016 LEFTOVER, NEW ADDITIONS, BOXING PREDICTIONS

APRIL 2016 LEFTOVER, NEW ADDITIONS, BOXING PREDICTIONS

April is indeed a huge month for boxing; so much so, that not only did I predict 10 fights before, but I have to add a few before we move on to May.  These fights all are scheduled for April 30, below.  Now, in a year rife with cancellations, odds are they won't all come to fruition.  However, most of these fights are setting up something bigger in the summer or fall, so I hope they do happen.

Badou Jack vs. Lucien Bute
Not sure if Bute is Romanian for "cat" but this fighter keeps getting new lives.  Or should I say, new shots?  He was never more than a #2 ranked fractional belt holder at 168, who benefited by opting out of the Super Six.  However, he looked dominant at that level when he had his confidence, and is still a good body puncher, so he always had a shot.  Much like Berto, he is most exciting in his losses, so promoters are willing to take a chance with him.  I think Jack's intelligence is too high now, after his loss to Edwards, to take chances with big money unifications on the horizon.  Jack by wide UD in a tactical fight.

Billie Joe Saunders vs. Maz Bursak
Saunders deserves his gimme before losing to GGG, and he is going to get it with this matchup.  Bursak has failed every time he has stepped up, but he doesn't embarrass himself, which is all they need here.  Saunders deserves credit for taking on men like Lee, Eubank, and Golovkin (if he does), as the Brits seem to be the only ones risking life and limb to tackle GGG.  He is not a puncher, however, which means this fight may not be a good fit for US TV.  Saunders by wide UD or TKO on cuts.

Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz 2
This fight is the big crossroads fight.  The loser is pretty much finished at the championship level, while the winner gets one last try at it.  Both men have made a lot of money despite only being fractional champions, and here it is again.  They knocked each other around for 12 rounds 5 years ago, and have only gotten easier to hit since.  It will be exciting, for as long as it lasts, but I think the better luck has been on the side of Berto lately.  Berto by late TKO, in an exciting contest, but not as thrilling as the first one.

James DeGale vs. Rogelio Medina
Not much is known about Medina, except his shocking KO over J'Leon Love.  He is tough, and a puncher, but not in DeGale's class.  However, DeGale has earned the right to have his defenses predicted.  I'd like to think that DeGale fighting on the same card as Badou Jack is setting up a unification match, but it looks like Jack will be facing a mandatory this fall, should he get by Bute.  That would delay this desired matchup.  On paper, Medina will be rugged and motivated, but little else.  DeGale has a good chin, and is also not the kind to usually make deals.  In fact, never mind the Dirrell fight, he scores stoppages over fighters that most do not stop.  DeGale by middle rounds TKO, after winning every round.

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SCREWED IN YOUR OWN HOMETOWN

SCREWED IN YOUR OWN HOMETOWN

Yes, it does happen, usually when the visiting promoter has more clout to bribe local judges than the home-fighter’s promoter.  It’s a sad phenomenon to get screwed in any decision, but even worse when the local fans were preparing for a party, and the hometown fighter is essentially getting robbed in his own home. 

Here are a few examples:

Frankie Duarte vs. Bernardo Pinango
In this 1987 WBA 118lb championship match, Duarte did start slow.  The West-sider allowed Pinango to build an early lead, but not only did Duarte close the gap, and even things out in rounds, but he dropped Pinango twice, in the 10th and 15th rounds.  The Venezuelan champion was even deducted two points for low blows.  This seemed to make it a foregone conclusion that Pinango would be dethroned in front of L.A. native Duarte’s faithful.  However, all three judges gave Pinango the decision, and there was not even the appearance of neutrality… all judges being from Central and South America.  Pinango moved up right away to 122lbs, and avoided a rematch.  Duarte challenged for a world title once more, but was soundly beaten and retired.

Tyrone Everett vs. Alfredo Escalera
This one wasn’t even close.  Everett outboxed and outclasses Escalera at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, only to receive a ridiculous gift at the hands of the WBC judges.  So bad was the obviously corrupt decision that a rematch was negotiated for several months later.  It would never happen, however, as Everett was tragically murdered.. but he deserved to die a champion, which made the home-town robbery even more tragic.

Michael Brodie vs. Willie Jorrin
Once again, the WBC rears their ugly heads… playing their favorite game… protect the Mexican.  Jorrin, a Sacramento native, had good luck with judges in other fights before and after this, but usually with the help of his vast hometown base.  This time, it seemed Brodie had won a close competitive fight in his own hometown of Manchester.  However, WBC judges did not see it that way, and awarded the vacant belt to Jorrin.  Brodie settled for challenging for the lightly regarded WBF belt, and a rematch never materialized.

Axel Schulz vs. Franz Botha
This was Schulz’s second time being robbed in a close one for the IBF heavyweight strap.  First, he came up just short in Las Vegas against George Foreman.  However, the removal of George’s legend, and the visitor’s curse, did nothing to help Schulz.  Even in his own backyard, the judges scored for South African Botha (then, a Don King fighter).  Schulz seemingly swept the first 7 rounds, only to take his foot off the gas.  It wasn’t enough, and after Botha was stripped for steroid use, both men lost to Michael Moorer within a year.

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NUMBERS 1 AND 2

NUMBERS 1 AND 2

So, Gennady Golvokin and Roman Gonzalez each retained their titles and designations as the best two fighters in the world.  Some argue their competition has not been high enough to warrant this placement, or that their positions should be reversed, but little happened last Saturday to move them up or down.  Chocolatito and GGG both won in one-sided fashion, albeit in different ways.  Dominic Wade pretty much showed everyone why is nowhere near elite.  McJoe Arroyo made us wonder who had been able to beat him the other two times.  I, for one, would like to see Golovkin and Gonzalez each face a fast, slick boxer.  

That seems to be the only type of fighter who could threaten them.  Rigo is too big, but why not Amnat Ruenruong?  Most Thai fighters will not leave the comfort of home, but the IBF 112 champion already has done so.  He broke Zou Shiming's fans' hearts in hostile territory last year.  Why not try and do the same against Chocolatito?  Inoue would be exciting, but he barely fights at all, and Gonzalez has already beaten Estrada.  I think this is the last type of fighter he has to prove he can beat.  Also, it would be a unification, and a battle of unbeatens.  

Andre Ward is simply too big now, and has his sights set on another unbeaten former-Soviet destroyer in Kovalev.  Canelo has fast hands, but slow feet, and his best chance is to lose 8-4 to GGG.  This way he will go the distance, and hope the WBC judges gives him the few "extra" points that he always seems to get when fights go a full 12 rounds.  Don't believe me?  Think about his fights with Floyd, Trout, Lara, and Cotto.  At least 2 judges always seem to give him more rounds than he actually won.  If Canelo can jump out to an early lead, then rely on his chin and strength to stay upright, there is always a possibility of a screw job decision to guarantee a rematch.  

For GGG, Danny Jacobs and Peter Quillin have decent boxing skills and speed, but neither would be likely to keep Golovkin off of them, or be able to stand up to the power when he does close the gap.  However, if we really want to see if GGG can truly beat all styles, he has to take on the one style that has befuddled pressure fighters with that "Mexican style" since the beginning of time: the fast, defensive, slick (usually black and southpaw) fighter.  

Erislandy Lara is no Pernell Whittaker, but you can argue that his 2 losses and 2 draws were all bad decisions, and his competition level has always been high.  No one looks good against him, except maybe Carlos Molina, who was able to match his awkwardness.  Chances are, if Angulo was able to drop Lara twice, that GGG would eventually catch and stop Lara, but that fight would shut up a lot of his detractors.  Especially if GGG dropped in weight to take the fight, as a trial run for Canelo's infamous "catchweights".  We are likely not to get Canelo-GGG for at least a year, so the dance card might as well get filled with people who increase Golovkin's legacy.  Guys like Wade will not do that.

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WARD RECAP, AND KOVALEV BUILDUP

WARD RECAP, AND KOVALEV BUILDUP

So, Andre Ward dominated his fight with Sullivan Barrera.  That alone is not a surprise.  In fact, nothing about the entire evening was unexpected.  The location, the opponent selected, the result, and the aftermath.  Social media is blowing up with everything from "Ward would get destroyed fighting Kovalev that way!", to "He's the second coming of Floyd!"  There are many reasons to believe either of these extremes.  Ward did throw a lot less and land a lot more.  Only Mayweather seems to do this with any consistency... having a 45 connect percentage to his opponents 16% for example.  However, the jabs and hooks that Ward ignored from Barrera would definitely have a different effect should Kovalev land them.  

Kovalev even said he wants to face Ward in Oakland.  On the surface, this looks like overconfidence, when actually, Sergey is just trying to stay in his own comfort zone.  He has been making money and history beating his opponents in their own backyards.  Showing up in Quebec for many fights, especially 2 with Jean Pascal.  he also beat Cleverly in Wales, and Hopkins in Atlantic City (which is a faraway suburb of Philadelphia, in boxing terms).  Oakland poses a new challenge to him, as much as Ward does.  No one knows him in Russia or Florida, his two homes... and the last time he fought in Russia, his opponent died, so he does not exactly have fond memories of the old country.  His promoter is Main Events, so there is not a big national presence built in.  Unless Sergey plans on becoming huge in New Jersey soon, it will stay that way.  

He has to chase the fighters to their hometowns, and that will not change anytime soon.  Even if Al Haymon moves across the table for once, that will only guarantee Kovalev being back in Montreal, where all of his top 175-lbers reside.  The only exception is Fonfara, who would certainly insist on fighting in Chicago or New Jersey, where the Polish fans would generate an advantage.  Those who say Kovalev would destroy the Andre Ward who beat Barrera (including Barrera's trainer Abel Sanchez) are missing the big picture of Andre Ward.  He fights, not only up and down to his level of competition, but to the specific opponents, themselves.  He designs a plan for each opponent, and the result has always been the same.. dominance.  His style is to ruin your style... whatever that may be.  

We are talking about a man who won a gold medal as an American (almost an impossibility due to anti-USA judging bias in the Olympics), and did so fighting bigger men.  He was a natural 165lber beating up 178lbers... and he had not had any international experience.  One cannot underestimate the learning curve and powers of adjustments of Andre Ward.  I'm not saying he would beat Kovalev (although I know he is capable of doing so), but throw out anything you saw against other opponents.  He will be different, as required. Deep down, the fans know that... which is the main selling point of this match.  It is why a fight between a man who no one has figured out, against a man who figures out everyone, is particularly intriguing.  

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BIGGER TEST THAN WE THINK

BIGGER TEST THAN WE THINK

Andre Ward is coming back after 9 months off, which was a comeback fight after 19 months off, which was a comeback fight after 14 months off.  Yes, since a 2011-12 campaign that saw his two biggest wins (Froch and Dawson), Ward has been more active in court than in the ring.  He has yet to show any rust, in fact even the Dawson performance was coming off of a 9 months layoff (at that point, his longest).  Ward is part of a new breed of fighter (prominent in the African American fight community, but rare elsewhere) who is all about the principle of knowing one's own value.  I know Ward is half white as well, but the model can be employed by anyone.

 Now, too often the "know your value" model is used as an excuse for pricing oneself out of big matches, but I do not believe that is the case here.  Men like Mayweather, Whittaker, and Ward know that they are only famous because of how good they are... in fact unbeatable throughout most of their careers.  They live and die on that.  Unlike a Mexican brawler that can rely on an action-style and racism, in order to guarantee a certain amounts of seats selling, people only come to see the defensive African American because he is the best.  Being the best is all they have, therefore every risk must be calculated.  This successful strategy of marketing was learned under Sugar Ray Leonard, even though SRR didn't employ it as drastically, he was the first hype-manufactured champion of the modern era.. but it only worked because he really WAS that good.  

Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara are very good fighters, but they are not great, and nowhere near dominant, which takes an entire zero off of their average purses.  If Ward loses to Sullivan Barrera, which is not likely, he will lose everything.  It would be a long (and probably not exciting) rebuilding process.  Unless you fight excitingly (he doesn't), 6 times a year (no one does), and are a ticket friendly ethnicity (he's not), that aura of invincibility is really all you have left.  Ward is now moving towards a fight with Kovalev, which is supposed to happen before the end of this year.  However, given mandatories, Ward's insistence that he have one more fight before Kovalev, as well as his own propensity for layoffs and injuries, an early 2017 date is more likely.  

By that time, Ward will have been a pro for more than a dozen years, and may have nowhere else to go afterwards.  He is too big for middleweight, too small for cruiserweight, and has done everything at super middleweight.  If Haymon fighters are indeed off the table for Roc Nation Sports fighters, then Ward can forget about Beterbiev, Stevenson, Fonfara, and Alvarez.  The whole division is at a standstill, and don't be surprised if Ward retires after Kovalev, regardless of what happens.  He's always wanted to be a good example for fighters, and no one since Calzaghe has had the strength of character to walk away on top lately (unless Floyd actually stays retired).  So, every fight is a big risk for him, probably bigger than anyone else is facing right now.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

What is with all the injuries all of a sudden?  Chavez Jr, Keith Thurman, etc.  It would appear that the limited fighters who make money are getting hurt, and only before fights which were risky.  I am not sure if this is a ploy to gain time for ticket sales, or legitimate injuries, but it has made me not want to get excited for any matches.  This is boxing, we do not get the same fighter fighting every day or week like baseball or football.  We have to go months, sometime years without seeing the action we want.  Do us a favor, and fight with a sprained pinky finger.  You're being paid more than enough to do so.
 
Speaking of excited... don't hold your breath for GGG-Canelo or Kovalev-Ward to happen this year, if at all.  It seems that the fighters who stand to risk the most are already planning their other options.  Ward-Kovalev depends on ward staying active, which is unlikely to happen, if he insists on taking two more fights before Kovalev matchup.  that means ward would have to fight 3 times this year, and I do not see that happening.  Stevenson has two mandatories in the WBC, both of whom, like Stevenson, are Haymon fighters (Alvarez and Fonfara).  Therefore, don't expect Kovalev or Ward to get any Haymon fighters as a consolation.
 
Speaking of tied-up divisions, will Wladimir Klitschko piss or get off the pot already?  It is March... the rematch with Fury should be happening this month, yet there has not even been an announcement.  Does he think he is getting younger with time?  I was a Klitschko fan, but he already held the division hostage with his skills and lax schedule.  Now, he is holding it hostage with his mandated rematch.  Joshua, Parker, Martin, Wilder, Fury, Browne.. we'd love to get excited, but it's as if Klitschko is offended by the idea of us enjoying ourselves.  Make a move, Wlad, or just retire.  I hope for the latter.
 
Speaking of making a move, I am not a fan of Shawn Porter's decision to have an exhibition this Saturday in lieu of his cancelled fight against Keith Thurman.  It is certainly not his fault that the match was cancelled, but now he is taking wear and tar for no money, and giving the fans the impression that the Thurman fight was cancelled, not postponed.  It is already fishy that no new date has been given.  Careful, Big Al... if you don't make this happen (or an even tougher assignment), no one will ever pay to watch Keith Thurman again.

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APRIL 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 3

 APRIL 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 3

Adrien Broner vs. Ashley Theophane
Sure, Broner is not the powerhouse he was at 130 and 135lbs, but Money-Teamer Theophane has probably seen his best days.  The Brit is not a new face, even if many fans do not remember him.  He was lucky to get a decision over Delvin Rodriguez in his last semi-big televised match, and other than better trainers and promoters, very little has been shown to change.  Unless there has been tremendous improvement behind closed doors, this is the closest Broner will get to beating Floyd.  Broner by UD.

Eduard Troyanovsky vs. Cesar Cuenca
This is the rematch that no one except Cuenca asked for.  The feather-fisted Argentine, whose win over Ik Yang to win the IBF 140lb strap was indeed impressive, promptly gave the belt away in his first defense.  Troyanovsky connected in round 6, and Cuenca quit.  Perhaps there was a language confusion, but body language is hard to misinterpret.  I think Troyanovsky has a mental edge now.  It was a fairly even fight up until then, but the Russian will have learned more, and gotten better.  Troyanaovsky by MD.

Tomasz Adamek vs. Eric Molina
This fight is only intriguing, because the winner can slide into an optional defense situation.  Molina should be quickly dispatched, but Adamek is beyond his best days, and Molina showed heart against Wilder, which makes him more of a wild card.   However, I do not feel it is enough to overcome that much of a talent disparity, especially in Adamek’s back yard.  Molina has suffered 2 1st round KOs, and while another would not surprise me here, I think Adamek starts too slow, and Molina is a better fighter now.. at least, good enough to go rounds.  Tomasz by late TKO.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley
I am definitely one of the many that does not see the need for this match to be taking place.  If Pacquiao is trying to go out with a victory, he should at least be attempting for a victory he has not already achieved twice.  Bradley has had one fight with teddy Atlas, in which he beat an under-motivated, made-to-order opponent in Brandon Rios.  Are we to believe so much has changed that a bout with Pacquiao would be any different now?  I actually hope Bradley wins, so that Pacquiao will finally call it quits, and Bradley can stand atop the lean talent pool of Top Rank fighters at 147lbs.  However, I think even an older, rusty, unmotivated Pacquiao just matches up badly for Bradley.  Pacquiao by UD.

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APRIL 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

 APRIL 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

Zurdo Ramirez vs. Arthur Abraham
Arthur Abraham, much like his contemporary Felix Sturm has pretty much made a career or failing in the USA, and winning close controversial decisions at home in Germany.  Like Sturm, he is also aging well, and we keep thinking he is done, only to see him come back and keep winning.  Ramirez is another level, however.  Not that it would be the first time if Abraham found a way to triumph, but this fight is in Las Vegas, where his connections won’t mean much, and Zurdo will meet him head on, not boxing for a safe win.  Kudos to Abraham for keeping it close enough against Martin Murray and Robert Stieglitz to keep winning, but that will not happen here.  Ramirez by UD, or TKO on cuts/swelling.

Gennady Golovkin vs. Dominick Wade
I had a feeling the Tureano Johnson may actually be a fairly exciting fight for GGG, but once that was put aside, now this Forum fight is truly down to what it is… a tune-up for GG, while waiting for Canelo (should Canelo get past Khan).  Wade barely beat a 44 year old Sam Soliman.  Soliman is no slouch, but is middle aged, and coming off a knee injury, and personally I had him winning.  Wade is simply not ready for this… maybe he never will be.  GGG by brutal KO, inside of 5 rounds.

Denis Lebedev vs. Victor Ramirez
Finally, a unification in the cruiserweight division.  Sure, Drozd and Glowacki might be the two best champions, and Lebedev and Ramirez have both needed shady dealings just to hold onto their titles, but this is what you do in order to stand out.  If Drozd gets past his defense against his Congolese challenger, this could get all 3 major belts around one waist for the first time in 10 years since the late O’Neill Bell had them for a brief time.  In breaking it down, essentially Ramirez is being paid to come and relinquish his belt, which is just what will happen.  Lebedev won’t look good, but he will win… probably by fairly wide decision.

Roman Gonzalez vs. McWilliams Arroyo
Gonzalez may be permitted one fight like this before he will be forced to unify, move up in weight, or take on some thrilling challenge to continue to be worthy of the #1 pound for pound spot with which he has been rewarded.  No disrespect to Arroyo, as he and his brother McJoe are decent contenders, and brave enough to take on all comers, but this is too big of a leap.  Chocolatito may take a couple of rounds to get started, as Arroyo has decent skills, but this one will be over by round 4, probably from body shots.

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BURBANK BOXING

BURBANK BOXING

Undefeated lightweight Casey “The Wizard” Ramos (22-0, 5 KOs) of Austin, Texas, won an eight round technical decision over veteran Jonathan “Popeye” Perez (35-14, 27 KOs) on Saturday night at the Burbank Marriott Events Center in Burbank, California. After to a slow start, Ramos used the jab while Perez attempted to work his way in. Measuring with the jab in round two, Ramos dropped Perez with a counter left hook in round two, although it appeared to clearly be a slip.

Ramos stuck to the jab and fired away one-two combinations in round three as Perez kept coming. In round four, a clash of heads caused a cut over Ramos’ right eye. Ramos continued to control the action.  In round eight, referee Raul Caiz took Ramos to the corner and the ring doctor determined Ramos couldn’t continue. Perez tried to celebrate, but the crowd and the referee quickly let him know that he was not the winner.  The bout went to the scorecards where all three judges scored the bout 80-71.

Unbeaten South El Monte super lightweight Arnold Barboza (11-0, 4 KOs) won a hard fought six round unanimous decision over Max Becerra (8-2-2, 5 KOs) of Vacaville, California. Both fighters had a healthy contingency of fans in attendance.  After a slow first couple of rounds, the action picked up in round 3.  Barboza seemed to have an edge with straighter punches, and Becerra was reduced to pushing down the head of Barboza by the end.. The sixth and final round had everyone on their feet as the fighters traded away in the center of the ring. Judges scored the bout 60-54, 60-54, and 59-55 for Barbosa.

Sacramento featherweight Guy Robb (18-1, 8 KOs) stopped Carlos Padilla (15-4-1, 9 KOs) of Columbia in round four of a scheduled eight rounder. Robb was the aggressor throughout. A left hook by Robb in round four staggered Padilla. Robb backed him into the corner and scored a knockdown with a body shot. Padilla managed to finished the round, but couldn’t come out for round five.

Colombian lightweight contender and former world title challenger Miguel Marriaga (22-1, 18 KOs) hammered out an eight round unanimous decision over tough Filipino Adones Aguelo (24-13-2, 16 KOs). In a competitive bout, Marriaga and Aguelo exchanged heavy punches in round four as Aguelo backed Marriaga to the ropes with a right but Marriaga stood in there trading. In the second half of the fight, Aguelo pressured Marriaga who was boxing at a distance. In the eighth and final round, Aguelo sensed the urgency urging Marriaga to stand and trade as the Colombian circled the ring sticking the jab. Judges scored the bout a closer than expected 77-75, 77-55 and 79-73 for Marriaga.

In the opener, super bantamweight Miguel Alcantara (2-0, 2 KOs) of Los Angeles scored a second round TKO over Michael Alcarez (1-9) of Houston. Alcantara teed off Alcaraz from the opening bell and in the second round landed a series of uppercuts.  Dr. Lou Moret stopped the fight at 1:31.

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APRIL 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

APRIL 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

This is a huge month for boxing.  There are many title fights and big important matches that will shape many divisions.  This is the first time I am actually covering a full 11 fights, over 3 blogs.  Virtually all the important matches will be televised on US TV, but Europe is the site of many of them.  We may see Manny Pacquiao for the last time.  We may see a gold medalist add "world champion" to his credits list.  We may see many new champions, and new stars.  This is one of those months guaranteed to make history.

Krystoff Glowacki vs. Steve Cunningham
Cunningham is back where he belongs, and Glowacki is getting what he deserves.  They are getting a network title fight that will showcase both men.  Cunningham is pushing 40, but always keeps himself in good condition.  Glowacki will have the Polish fans coming over from Jersey to Brooklyn, but you don’t need hometown favoritism to beat Cunningham.  Judges hate “USS”, as Cunningham has been on the wrong side of many close, controversial decisions.  Glowacki is also not afraid to fall behind, in order to get his work in.  A prime Cunningham probably outboxes Glowacki, yet I feel as if the Pole has too much at this stage, and will break him down.  Glowacki by late TKO, in a fairly even fight up until then.

Errol Spence vs. Chris Algieri
Oh, how they fall so fast.  Algieri is officially an opponent.  Not too long ago, he was a world champion fighting Manny Pacquiao.  Now, he is being brought in to lose to a prospect.  True, Spence is rated high, but that is Haymon’s connections, more than anything that has been accomplished.  Hype and maneuvering got him here, and it continues.  A big puncher is what would bother Spence, and lower his output.  Algieri is many things, but not that.  Odds are, Spence will not hurt Algieri much either,  which will make for an exciting match-up.  Spence by UD, in a fight with a lot of punches thrown, yet probably few if any knockdowns.

Anthony Joshua vs. Charles Martin
Bravo to Charles Martin for taking this fight.  It is big money, and it will do a ton more to prove himself than his knee-injury win over Czar Glazkov.  Not only that, but he doesn’t even have to win.  He is already a former “champion” no matter what, and a thrilling fight would give him as many opportunities.  I have a feeling he will win, however.  Don’t get me wrong… he has no prayer of getting a decision in the UK, and if he is so much as staggered, the fight will be waved off.  However, Joshua has not been tested yet, and this one is really more than likely about who connects first.  Martin seems to be the cooler head of the two, though it is close.  I am picking the upset, as in Martin by 7th round TKO. 

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TV NOT THE SAME

TV NOT THE SAME

I know we were all supposed to rejoice at the return of boxing to network television.  I know we were all supposed to be thrilled that Al Haymon officially becoming a promoter meant his best fighters would now be facing each other.  I, however, am not nearly as impressed now that we are over a year out from boxing's biggest takeover.  To be honest, I was expecting more, expecting different, expecting less... depending on what we are talking about.  

Before I list the problems I am having with the Premiere Boxing Champions series, I'd like to congratulate the company on a few victories.  We did get fights like Broner-Porter, Garcia-Peterson, Mares-Santa Cruz, Quillin-Jacobs, and soon we will get Porter-Thurman. We also saw boxing invade more networks than ever before.  We also saw the sanctioning bodies devalued.  However, here is a short list of issues the boxing fans are having with the new boxing television landscape.

Commentating - The commentating on most PBC cards, to put it bluntly, is terrible.  Corporate yes-men trying desperately to sell us non-competitive fights.  Part of the problem is the lack of experience, while most of it is the fact that they are using fighters who are new to commentating, and pairing them with seasoned broadcasters who are new to boxing. This leaves us with the blind leading the blind, live and in living color.  Passionate writers/fans who have stories, and love the sport, would do a better job.  The internet writing world is loaded with them.  Steve Kim, Doug Fischer... bring these guys back and ditch the broadcast team.

Waiting too long - We did get some big fights, but we also still have to wait a long time for them.  Thurman wasted yet another year, as did Wilder.  If we want the to mean less to fans, Haymon is absolutely no help.  He seems uninterested in risking any of his undefeated fighters, until he is officially losing money on them, after which it may be too late.

Not that much network - For all the hype, there have only been a handful of CBS, NBC etc fight cards.  Most of them are on FS1, Spike, and ESPN2 like before.  Only difference is that now it is almost always showcase fights that follow the same pattern: one-sided poundings that go the distance, between unbeaten fighters and hapless journeyman.

Bucking unnecessary traditions - I like the minimizing of sanctioning bodies, but explanations of them at least need to be had, so people know why you keep referring to everyone as "champion" or "former champion".  It leaves fans in the dark, as opposed to confused.  Different, but not better.  And ring announcers were a fine nuance of the sport.  Their appearance did not need to be removed.  It's a bizarre detachment that makes it look like decisions being announced are not going to be trustworthy.

Friday Night Fights - We were supposed to get 11 ESPN cards.  I only remember 3.  With the new commentators being such yes-men, it was even more necessary to hear Teddy Atlas' truth-telling.  The FNF series is sorely missed by those who wanted competitive fights, highlight reel knockouts, and unbiased commentating.  Haymon's worst offense is killing this brand.

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SORRY, NOT BUYING IT

SORRY, NOT BUYING IT

So, Keith Thurman has found yet another way to get out of facing a top, prime opponent in the welterweight division.  There are many things fishy about this announcement, circulating in the boxing world.  Most of it is just hearsay, but given the players involved, they can understand out skepticism.  Shawn Porter has looked both good and bad in certain fights, but always gives his all, and is usually in exciting (if slightly awkward) fights.  If he had pulled out with an injury, we might have been able to buy it.  However, given that Keith Thurman ranks behind only that of Deontay Wilder as being an Al Haymon fighter that has made it shockingly far without ever taking part in a pick 'em fight, it is suspect.

First off, there are rumors that the "car accident" took place quite a while ago, and only now, two weeks out, are they deciding Thurman cannot fight.  What on earth is compromised?  What is the actual injury?  Where are the x-rays?  There are also rumors that he is "mentally" shaken up more than physically hurt, and his camp did not want to send him into the ring compromised.  Whatever happened to Buster Douglas and Howard Davis Jr. winning the biggest fights of their lives just after their mothers had died?  "Shaken up" is no reason not to fight.  Thurman has had an injury or two in the past, but I actually choose to believe the problem is more monetary than anything else.

Make no mistake, the PBC cards are hemorraging money.  It was a nice idea, but you have to give the fans more risky fights, more action brawls, and less showcase fights.  Haymon fighters often get rich facing no one, and the action fights he has brought us, are usually brought in from outside promoters (i.e. Glowacki-Huck).  I would never advocate paying fighters less, but PBC either needs bigger sponsors, or more fans in attendance.  I do not want this foray into more TV channels to yield nothing, but I have complained about that in enough blogs.  Haymon is not the only player at work here.  

Thurman has had himself in the welterweight discussion for nearly 4 years now, and has never faced a fighter against whom he was not heavily favored.  The first time he does, he gets hurt in a vague way, at a convenient time, under suspicious circumstances?  Something is wrong here.  I think it's probably ticket sales, or corporate sponsorship.  Someone ran the numbers, and realized that this fight wasn't going to be the moneymaker they'd hoped.  If so, that is very shortsighted.

The winner of Porter-Thurman jumps ahead of everyone else at 147lbs.  Garcia (who is still being given an older fighter diet at 147, like Thurman had been) moves down the line, and Khan has taken himself out of the picture with the Canelo fight.  Brook is facing useless mandatories.  This meant the winner may actually get Floyd or Pacquiao.  The odds are slim, since both are likely not to fight again, but no one else but GGG would even be in the discussion.  Now, we have to wait, and I would not be surprised if Thurman-Porter ends up off the shelf entirely, as someone has convinced the welterweights, to just wait in line for Manny or Floyd.  Shameful.

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QUITTING IN THE CORNER??

QUITTING IN THE CORNER??

When you and I go to work, we are expected to stay the duration of time for which we have been contracted.  As a comedian, I am very much held to this standard.  Even if the show is going horribly.  Even if the crowd is hostile.  Even if your safety is in question, it is understood and assumed, that you must do the contracted time on stage in order to get paid the full amount.  This does not exist in boxing, and for many reasons.  Not all of them are spurious, either.  If you win in the first round, surely you should not be punished.  To do so, would encourage the "carrying" of opponents, which should never be done.  Also, longer is not always better in a losing effort.  

"Going the distance" should be a goal of any losing fighter.  Boxing fans respect effort, not time, so we should not measure fighters in that fashion.  I will also mention that quitting in the corner is nothing new.  Sonny Liston, Marcel Cerdan.. many throwback fighters who were typically tough as nails have abandoned the fight due to injury or futility.  Roberto Duran was the most famous, and he did not even quit in the corner.  He did it in the middle of a round.  However, I am very disturbed by how often fighters think it ok to abandon one's work assignment right in the middle.  There are many causes of this, however, I will examine recent cases, as well the root causes of this being much more acceptable behavior from a modern fighter.  

This past weekend, both Amir Mansour and Aron Martinez quit in the corner of their respective fights at the Staples Center, against Dominick Breazeale and Sammy Vasquez.  Neither man had a reputation as a quitter.. if anything it was the opposite.  Yet, due to injuries to Mansour's jaw, and Martinez's elbow, they both quit.  Whatever happened to Tyrell Biggs going 7 rounds with a dislocated collar bone and winning the fight?  Whatever happened to Arthur Abraham fighting 7 rounds with his jaw stuck open, and (controversially) winning the fight?  Even Victor Ortiz fought with a broken jaw for many rounds against Josesito Lopez.  

These are fairly recent examples, too.  Men like Yuri Foreman and Sharmba Mitchell hobbling their way through multiple rounds on a bad knee, don't seem to be happening, and the shift is as recent as 5-10 years.  Even legends like Bernard Hopkins are quitting right after an injury, as he did against Chad Dawson.  Julio Cesar Chavez quit on his stool against both Oscar de la Hoya and Kostya Tszyu... although he probably should have quit in the dressing room, but it did not damage either Chavez' or Hopkins' legacy.  Tor Hamer, a one-time heavyweight prospect, famously quit twice early in fights, simply because he was losing.  Yet, he got another assignment.  

Therein lies the problem.  Duran and Liston never quit again, because they were shamed for it.  Consequences are the answer.  I am not recommending that fighters risk future incapacitation for boxing, but if your shoulder is hurting, throw the other hand!  People pay a lot of money, and you would certainly fight through a cut... why not that?  If your corner is doing it's job, they will pull you out of a fight, mid round.  The corner is for answers, not surrender.  Maybe fighters and trainers need to remember that.  At least go out and get knocked out, so the fans don't feel cheated.  Everyone loses when you quit in the corner... everyone, that is, except you.  That needs to change, if we want this to change.

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JANUARY 16 RECAP

JANUARY 16 RECAP

It was a day of heavyweights, on both sides of the Atlantic.  While much of the eyes of the boxing world were on the Barclay Center, there was also a return to action for a former belt-holder.  Very little changed in the heavyweight division, and as much talk was done about those fighters who were not in the ring that night, as the ones who were.

For Deontay Wilder, it was more of the same.  Since winning a portion of the heavyweight title, Wilder seems to have lost his ability to score the early KOs which defined his road to the belt.  he is also no less sloppy and amateurish than when he won. However, that eraser if a brutal right hand is still there, giving him a shot against any opponent whom he catches clean.  Before laying Artur Szpilka flat with one right hook in the 9th round, he had barely hurt the Polish fighter, who had given a good account of himself.  Unlike other Wilder opponents of late, who were mostly content to last rounds, Szpilka actually won a few.  

Wilder showed the ability to adjust distance eventually, and win slower rounds, but little else.  He may end up the udnerdog against a well-schooled fighter like Alexander Povetkin, but with that right hand, anything is possible.  Povetkin was in attendance, as well as Tyson Fury, and Dereck Chisora.  Povetkin kept quiet and well-mannered, as is his custom.  Fury stormed the ring and challenged Wilder, which prompted Wilder to return his trash talk, and  promise to "baptize" him.  Both Wilder and Fury are mandated to face other opponents next, so they were fairly safe in trash talking, as they will not be immediately able to back it up.

Chisora was there to call out Prince Charles Martin, who won the IBF strap recently stripped from Tyson Fury.  As is typical of the IBF, they hate being unified, and are very quick to strip anyone who asks for any type of extension.  Martin won the title after a slow 3 rounds, when Czar Glazkov injured his knee.  If we thought Martin was unproven before, now he is a belt-holder who is still unproven.  A win over Chisora may do more to cement his entry into the top 10 than anything done in Brooklyn last Saturday.

David Haye returned to form, or close to it.  The Hayemaker was always explosive when he wanted to be, and showed that 3 years away had not diminished his ability to take out a sub-par opponent.  He scored a hard KO over Mark DeMori in only 1 round, and in a moment of honesty, did not call out the other champions.  Haye preferred to say that he was sure they would not fight him unless forced, so he planned to work his way up the rankings.  With David Price essentially finished, Tyson Fury spoken for, and Anthony Joshua on a "protection plan" of development, it is unlikely Haye will be able to make much noise on the UK domestic front.  It may finally be time for him to be seen stateside.

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HEAVYWEIGHT HIGHLIGHTS

HEAVYWEIGHT HIGHLIGHTS

While it was difficult to get excited over belts that were essentially Klitschko throwaways, the fighters on Saturday's Brooklyn card are fighting for much more.  The WBA has a hundred belts, so Luis Ortiz and Ruslan Chagaev get to call themselves "champions", however the only "heavyweight champion of the world is Tyson Fury.  This pretty much makes Chagaev and Povetkin the only non-English speaking heavyweights making any real noise.  Ortiz is learning.  The winners of the January 16 Barclay Center heavyweight title fights may be sharing a stage, but they will not be able to face each other right away.

While the IBF winner between Martin and Glazkov will likely be allowed a voluntary defense, Deontay Wilder may not have one.  He has had 3 already, and is mandated to face Povetkin (a fight he could easily lose) next.  That is not all.  Tyson Fury is mandated to face Wladimir Klitschko in a rematch in 2016.  Klitschko, never known for his busy schedule, is unlikely to get in the ring again until at least summer, therefore the legit title is also in deep freeze.  There is also David Haye and Robert Helenius, who are both returning after 3 years on the shelf.

Therefore, without the pressure or ability to face one another, it is more likely that we are staring at yet another year of splintered title fights.  This is bad news for continuity, but it is great news for TV, fans of action fights, as well as the bogus sanctioning bodies.  In actual prediction, of not only the fights, all of these fights are 50/50.  Not Spilka vs Wilder, as while Spilka tends to make fights exciting, unless he scores a home-run ball, Wilder is likely to win by KO.  However, Fury-Klitschko 2?  Martin-Glazkov?  Wilder-Povetkin?  Ortiz vs Haye or Helenius?  These are all 50-50 fights, that are likely to provide good action.

Bryant Jennings is 2-2 in fairly entertaining scraps over Spilka, Ortiz, Klitschko, and Perez.  Men like he and Arreola have shown willingness to face anyone, so even the lower half of the top 10 should be exciting.  My official picks are Martin by KO over Glazkov, Wilder by KO over Spilka, then losing by KO to Povetkin.  I also pick Klitschko to get his title back against Fury, and then retire.  As far as what Haye and Helenius are going to do... who knows?  But I cannot wait to see it.  Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker may or may not be for real, but provided all of these men actually fight one another, we could be looking at the best heavyweight era since the early 90s.

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FEBRUARY 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

FEBRUARY 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

It's a fairly slow month compared to what some Februarys have brought us, but it still has potential for explosive endings.

Derry Mathews vs. Terry Flanagan
Mathews, like Flanagan has been a mainstay in the British 135lb scene.  However, Flanagan is on his way up, while Mathews seems on his way down.  His durability and toughness may force Flanagan to dig deeper, and go the full 12, but he should win most of the rounds fairly easily.  Flanagan by UD

Fedor Chudinov vs. Felix Sturm
Cannot believe Sturm is still fighting, but maybe that is because I just wish he would stop.  For Chudinov, this is a step up, even if Sturm is a shell (or just fights in one).  I like Fedor to be motivated, and make a statement... or as much of one as Felix's safety first style will allow.  Chudinov by MD.

Terrence Crawford vs. Hank Lundy
Ok, so Crawford doesn't need help looking dominant, or gathering KOs, so why Hank Lundy, who has always been nothing more than an exciting B-level fighter?  Because he wants to stay active, and remain in the public consciousness, and fight fans know Lundy.  He talks a good game, and shows a great deal of offensive skill and heart.  However, it probably won't take long for class to truly show.  Crawford may lose a round or two, but he will end matters by round 7, probably in brutal fashion.

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Kiko Martinez
Finally, Santa Cruz has an opponent who may be as tough and resourceful as he is.  However, Santa Cruz is younger, better, and can do more things.  If Martinez makes a brave stand, Leo will simply box, as he recently showed he can do.  Martinez will likely get busted up, and lose by TKO late in the fight, after scarcely winning a round.

Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg
A big fight in Europe, that could be very entertaining.  The immediate prize for the winner is unified championship, national bragging rights, and international respect.  However, the eventual prize is a long boring loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux.  Enjoy it while it lasts, boys.  Frampton probably has more overall skills and ability, even if Quigg has the faster start.  Frampton by UD, after turning it into a boxing match in the second half.

Marco Huck vs,. Ola Afolabi 4
They are usually pretty exciting when they fight, and if Afolabi had ever been allowed to get a win, this would be more interesting, but I guess promoters are hoping for a Pacquiao v. Marquez like scenario.  I don't think Ola has that in him at this stage, even if Huck is reeling from his KO loss to Glowacki.  I think Huck has more left, and will win a wider UD, while Ola languishes on the ropes for most of the fight.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Am I the only one who does not care if David Haye comes back?  He is a talented and accomplished fighter, who on a good night can beat almost any heavyweight, but let us not fall for this again.  He is a hype man and promoter, who loves the spotlight.  It does not mean his body is any different.  He will tease us again, but likely quit before any big fights are made.  Fool me once, fool me three times, you know the rest.

130 lbs and 112 lbs were invisible divisions in the USA until last year.  Roman Gonzalez has people talking about flyweight once again.  A rematch with Estrada, or a fight with Japanese phenom Inoue, Chinese star Shiming, or his unbeaten conqueror Ruenroung, are all possibilities that keep the 112 lb-ers in our minds.  At 130lbs, the activity is already fierce.  With Salido-Martinez 1 and 2, Vargas-Miura, Nicolas Walters entry, and the Pedraza-Cherry controversy, the junior feathers are interesting again.  

Speaking of the 130lbers, as much as I want to see more fights between Vargas-Miura, Salido-Martinez, as well as new fights involving Fortuna, Pedraza, and Walters, let's be honest: Uchiyama probably beats them all, and has already beaten Miura.  With all the Japanese fighters making the trip stateside lately, why has this amazing fighter not been featured?  Get on that, would you, Bob or Al?  His style, power, and skill has better odds of anyone else except Inoue becoming our first crossover Japanese boxing star.

Speaking of Bob and Al, it's impressive that they still remain atop the promotional heap in the USA.  Between Golden Boy, Goossen, Shaw, Tyson, Main Events, and so many others that peak and valley in our sport, the big two have remained as such for quite a while now.  They do so by signing the best, paying the best, monopolizing TV time, and reinventing themselves over and over.  It may not always be fair to the little guy, but business itself rarely is.

Speaking of business interests, catch-weights are indeed annoying, and a recent addition to the "how can my guy get the upper hand" battle that has always raged on in boxing negotiations, but there may be an upside.  Weight divisions alone are an obnoxious part of the sanctioning bodies power, and confusion among fight fans.  Maybe the catch-weights are devaluing them.  If that continues, maybe it will be a situation of each fight having a different weight negotiation.  And if that is the case, how do you assign belts to that?

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CHARLES MARTIN VS. ANTHONY JOSHUA

CHARLES MARTIN VS. ANTHONY JOSHUA

Congratulations to the management of both Charles Martin and Anthony Joshua, for taking the fight against one other.  While I will believe it when I see it (watch for injuries) it actually makes perfect sense for both camps to go through with it.  Joshua has gained a ranking and following without really beating anyone of note, but his opponents have all had winning records.  A couple of them were also undefeated, and he has stopped all 15 inside the distance.

A fighter like Martin would be a natural next step anyway.  He is another unbeaten, but largely unproven contender.  For Martin, being unproven is not his fault.  He has certainly attempted to take on anyone possible.  He has been matched with fellow unbeatens like Joe Hanks and Dominick Breazeale (cancelled when he got the Glazkov fight), therefore his management has shown willingness to risk him, because of that great eraser in his punching power.

Martin lucked into the title when Glazkov injured his knee, so even though he is a title belt holder, he is still full of question marks.  Now, that no matter what, he can call himself a former “world” champion, he will be even more willing to take risk.  If he loses, it could be because Joshua is the real thing, and he will most certainly be able to line up big money fights.  In fact, it may be easier for Martin to get fights if he loses, as he will appear vulnerable enough.  If it's true he really did sign with Al Haymon, he will get A LOT more big fights once his 0 is gone (although congrats to Al for taking this fight).

If Martin wins, he catapults past Wilder with one victory, as the Bronze Bomber does not have a win like that on his resume.  For Joshua, if he loses, it is still early.  Brits don’t abandon their hyped prospects after one brutal KO loss (as this would likely be).  As Frank Bruno, David Haye, and David Price learned, it almost endears them to the fans, when they come back from it.  Audley Harrison was given umpteen chances before labeled a permanent professional bust.

The only bad result would be a long dull fight with a lousy decision, which is always a possibility when dealing with heavyweights.  This is especially true when one side is the hyped, homegrown fighter (Joshua).  Good action, definitive result, will result in someone that the public will demand face Fury or Wilder, if either man is champion by the summer.

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UNIQUE CAUSES

UNIQUE CAUSES

Fighters are in a great position to do good for many philanthropic causes.  They are also in a position to highlight the plight or cultural heritage of a largely unknown group.  In this article, I am looking at a few modern fighters, and the people they brought to the attention of the fans worldwide.

 Jose Ramirez - Central Valley Farmers
The 2012 Olympian could definitely be fighting on more televised cards in Las Vegas or on PBC cards throughout the country, but he has set up shop in his hometown of Fresno, and is playing to packed (even if papered) crowds.  He has set about highlighting the plight of the Central Valley farmers, who have had their water shut off on them, and their contracts outsourced.  All it seems for environmental reasons, but a more sinister corporate intention of takeover is the likely culprit.  One cannot drive the 99 or I-5 without seeing dry and barren fields where farms once stood.  Ramirez still has big name promotion behind him, but he is perhaps stunting his career to bring this situation to light.  Inspiring.

Tyson Fury - Irish Travellers
It is true that the gypsy culture was also given a boost by such shows at "Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" both in the UK and the USA, however, the fighting culture of the Travellers was often a side-show aspect to those programs.  Indeed, it was even seen as something secretive.  The wedding programs were also focused on once-in-a-lifetime events of ostentatiousness.  Tyson Fury's rise to success has people googling and studying other aspects of the Irish Gypsy culture, namely their work ethic, traditions, and religious beliefs.  Not everyone is happy with what they are discovering, but more information is out there, for sure.

Sergio Martinez - Bullying
The implication, very incorrect by the way, is that boxers are more likely to have been bullies than have suffered at the hands of them.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  In many cases, being picked on is what led them to a gym in the first place.  Nonito Donaire said he was the target of bullying throughout his youth, yet it is hard to imagine anyone of his childhood tormentors wanting to be on the end of one of his left hooks today.  Muhammad Ali and Sergio Martinez both turned to boxing after the theft of a bike.  Martinez always showed a philanthropic side, especially when he offered to take over slain scheduled opponent Vernon Forrest's "Destiny's Child" charity.  He, however, became the face of boxing's anti-bullying campaign instead, often having singled-out victims sit ringside at his fights.

Orlando Cruz - Gay Rights
Let's be honest... Puerto Rican featherweight Cruz would not be famous had it not been for his sexuality.  It also speaks well of the boxing community, that like any other prospect, he was essentially forgotten after a shellacking at the hands of Orlando Salido.  While the fighter himself may not have had the ability of an Emile Griffith (who was also rumored to have been gay), his timing was impeccable as the first openly gay, currently active boxer.  In this day and age, he was able to be more open.  He did this by wearing rainbow trunks, piercings, and ended up calling more gay attention to boxing, than even boxing-fan attention to homosexuality.  Either way, it was long overdue.

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MARCH 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

MARCH 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

Lucas Browne vs. Ruslan Chagaev
One of the many incarnations of the WBA heavyweight title will be up for grabs.  Now, neither of these men I believe will defeat either Luis Ortiz or Tyson Fury (the other two holders of belts by this sanctioning body), but it is still an intriguing matchup.  Chagaev has taken to hiding in his home country where the friendly judges and referees will guarantee victory.  I don’t think Browne brings enough skills to stop that train.  He may deserve the decision, but will not get it.  Chagaev by close unanimous decision.

Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter
The only fight this month that I am truly excited by.  Finally Thurman will truly be tested by a fellow championship caliber foe, in his prime.  We only has to wait 4 years.  Porter is coming off a great win over Broner, but The ‘problem’ had already been solved by Maidana.  The real question is, does Thurman possess the strength both physically and mentally, to keep a strong fighter like Porter off of him?  I believe he does.  Thurman may eventually lose, but probably not to a fighter like Porter.  Thurman by exciting unanimous decision.

Derry Mathews vs. Terry Flanagan
The British lightweight division is perhaps even more exciting than their current heavyweight crop.  Anthony Crolla could meet the winning in a big unification, and there are many more tickets to be sold.  Richard Abril has perhaps never lost a fight at 135lbs, but he is boring, and has no fan base, therefore he has been unjustly run out of the championship picture.  Flanagan is a more skilled Ricky Burns, and should be too much for the spoiler Mathews.  Flanagan by late TKO.

Abner Mares vs. Fernando Montiel
Montiel is one of those guys who should be done, but he keeps finding new life.  Mares, however, is one of those burn bright, and leave quickly types.  Both men are multiple time and division champions, who will end up on hall of fame ballots, even if they never get in.  They also are just as likely to outbox or out-slug an opponent.  I am picking the upset here, and think Montiel will take advantage of an unconfident Mares, just enough to outhustle him in a close decision.

Andre Ward vs. Sullivan Barrera
Kell Brook vs. Kevin Bizier

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Something tells me Amir Khan will be more competitive than people think against Canelo Alvarez.  Granted it is a bad way to delay the GGG fight, but Khan is the only fighter within 2 divisions on either side, that comes with his own big draw.  He is also likely to lose his next big fight, so they have to cash in now.  In the higher weights, Khan is a distance fighter, who seems to have his legs under him.  Also, Alvarez is not a brutal puncher, and if Khan can get over his strength, than Canelo may find himself at the end of a speed deficit.  Alvarez has been faster than everyone he fought except Floyd, and we all know how that ended.  Still, Khan's defensive holes, while smaller, are still there... and one has to think that if Khan outboxes Canelo all the way, he'll still likely get caught with something big every round, and lose most of the rounds on power.  But don't be surprised if it is a competitive decision win for Alvarez, and not the early KO people are predicting.

Tyson Fury is talking retirement.  I don't buy it.  He is borderline manic, and cannot keep too many thoughts inside his own head.  That means the boxing public takes a bit of the internal roller coaster with him.  Ironically, this is what he has in common with David Haye, who I'm fairly sure he'll never end up fighting.  Keeping both their minds and bodies healthy long enough sounds like an unbearable chore.  I have no doubt Fury will retire and unretire a few times, a la Sugar Ray Leonard, but I don't think we are there yet.  It is most likely a ploy to force Klitschko to hurry up and agree to terms, so that his rematch clause does not hold up heavyweight boxing.  Fury is right when he says he cannot technically accomplish more than he did last November, in a single event... however, he can beat Wilder or Povetkin.  He can cash out against Haye, Joshua, etc.  He can beat them all and end up in the hall of fame.  Plus, a man like him without a career goal to focus his mind, is a danger to himself and others.

I know I have often written about fighters who I wish would retire, but there are some fighters I wish would have stayed a bit longer.  Marvin Hagler... he was done, but I would have liked to see the Leonard rematch.  Joe Calzaghe.  I think it would have been nice to see him in against Dawson or Tarver, and finishing at 50-0, or even move up to challenge stablemate Maccarinelli before he lost his belt and respect.  Maybe all Brit fights with Haye or Froch could have been fun, too.  I would also have liked to see Lennox Lewis against Vitali Klitschko in a rematch.  Carlos Monzon hanging around Middleweight long enough to give Hagler a shot would have been amazing as well.  Kelly Pavlik seemed to have a few fights left in him.  Naseem Hamed walked away a bit too soon.  It would have been nice to see him win a belt at 130, or show he could overcome an intelligent boxer.  I am not saying these men did not make wise decisions when they retired, but as a fan, they did leave me wanting more.

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JANUARY 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

JANUARY 2016 BOXING PREDICTIONS

Czar Glazkov vs. Charles Martin
Yes, it is the Prince against the Czar.  These two men are pretty opposite in most ways.  Glazkov the Pole.  Martin the American.  One southpaw, one orthodox.  One white, one black.  One puncher, one pressure fighter.  One has looked destructive and dominant against minimal opposition (Martin).  The other has fought a good deal of other contenders, but has needed help from the judges to remain unbeaten (Glazkov).  The belt is meaningless, as the IBF is the lowest belt in many divisions these days.  The real champion is Tyson Fury, and the real number one contender is Deontay Wilder.  However, the winner of this fight can sneak into the number 3 spot, and command more money.  Glazkov has struggled, and has never really fought a puncher, but has the more impressive resume.  Martin has not really been given the chance to shine, but he was scheduled to face unbeaten Olympian Dominic Breazeale before this opportunity presented itself, so his management believes in him.  I have seen Martin develop, and fight many times on off-TV cards, and he is the goods.  Martin by mid-rounds KO, after maybe being outboxed for a few rounds.

Deontay Wilder vs. Artur Spilka
Rounding out the Jan 16 Brooklyn USA vs. Poland heavyweight title night is the big matchup between Wilder and Spilka.  Spilka is getting this title shot basically because he is the only one who wanted it.  The Europeans think Fury as an easier mark, so they are waiting for that shot.  Spilka was already exposed a bit against Jennings, but made a fight of it, so he is expected to do the same against Wilder.  However, unlike Molina and Duhaupas, Wilder cannot afford to let Spilka go rounds.  He might actually win a few of them.  I don't think it matters, as Wilder tends to fight up or down to the level of his competition.  Wilder by 3rd round KO, after getting buzzed himself.

Danny Garcia vs. Robert Guerrero
One year ago this fight may have been viewed as an even 147lb matchup, however it is just following the recipe of Haymon's unbeatens... which is to fight names who are passed their primes and recently beaten.  It has worked well for Thurman and Khan, so why not Garcia.  While Aron Martinez' recent win makes his great performance against Guerrero less of a black eye for the Ghost, it still appears as if Guerrero is not what he once was.  Garcia needs a good performance after cherry picking an older Malignaggi and struggling against Peterson, and Guerrero at least usually means action.  This will give him just that.  Garcia may even be the first to stop Guerrero, but that won't be my official bet. Garcia by wide UD, in an entertaining scrap, where both men's chins keep them in it.

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REPACKAGED NONSENSE

REPACKAGED NONSENSE

There is a disturbing trend that has started out the year of 2016, and that is that absolutely nothing seems to be moving forward.  Sure, it looks as if we are finally getting Thurman vs. Porter, but that is about all as far as new challenges.  Amir Khan and Kell Brook are still tap dancing around fighting each other... with Khan beating faded former contenders, and waiting for bigger names... while Brook fights useless mandatories and optionals.  

Danny Garcia is joining Khan in following along with the Haymon plan of using faded former champions to give the illusion that he is a threat to the 147 lbers.  And that is just the welterweight division.  Here are the 3 biggest rematch disappointments that are happening in 2016.   There is also a rematch (or third fight) that is NOT happening... the only one we actually wanted, which was Salido vs. Martinez!  Also, no announcement of a Miura-Vargas 2 as of yet.  Personally, I am already looking forward to the second half of the year.

 Fury vs. Klitschko.  Is there a reason to see this again?  It was boring as hell the first time out, and Klitschko will be 40 by the time it happens.  Not to mention Klitschko's very light schedule means this fight probably won't happen until summer, and the belts are contractually held hostage until it does!  Wlad, it is time to clear the lane.  You are a first ballot hall of famer, and the boxing world is tiring of the boring heavyweight division.  Joshua, Povetkin, Wilder, Ortiz, Browne, Helenius, Martin, and Fury are here now.  Move on, please!  Your family needs you, and we no longer do.

Pascal vs. Kovalev.  Why on earth is there a rematch being fought here?  Ironically, Al Haymon may be partially to blame, even though he is not the promoter of either man.  He promotes every one else interesting at 175lbs, including Alvarez, Beterbiev, and the champion Stevenson.  That only leaves Pascal and Ward, and Ward is barely active at all, let alone ready for Sergey.  However, this fight was a one-sided beating the first time around, and it will end earlier the second time.  Just a time killer, and considering that Kovalev hasn't fought in 6 months, and that was a useless mandatory... it is time being wasted, for sure.

Pacquiao vs. Bradley.  Pacquiao is only fighting one last time for money and legacy, so why on earth did he pick the worst possible opponent on which to go out?  If he loses, it will make the weird result of the first fight look legitimate, and be a going out with a whimper, not a bang.  If he wins, big deal.... we will have gotten to see him dominate the same man 3 times (even if he was robbed one of the times).  This was not a huge rivalry like the Marquez quadrulogy.  A fifth fight between the two of them would have made more sense.  Pacquiao will also not prove that he is still superior to the newer top names, or he would have fought Khan or Crawford.  Picking Bradley does nothing but ensure that Bob Arum makes the most money off the casual fan.  That is why we are seeing it.  Shameful.

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QUILLIN-JACOBS REFEREE LESSON

QUILLIN-JACOBS REFEREE LESSON

I am not sure if much was learned about either Daniel Jacobs or Peter Quillin on December 5.  I do know that referee Harvey Dock is definitely not ready for the big time.  He is a trigger-happy stoppage ref, who is robbing fans of the finish they paid to see.  Dock jumped in too soon, when he thought Quillin was going down.  When he did not go down, Dock was caught, and in a moment of confusion, waved off the fight to protect his decision, rather than give a proven champion a chance to get back in the fight.  We also watched him try to find a reason to stop the GGG-Lemieux fight as well.  Lemieux was getting beaten, no question, but he was taking the punches well, defending himself, and firing back.  He also, as a big puncher, deserved the chance to turn the fight around.  It is time to debunk the myths surrounding early stoppages that we see every time this happensAny stoppage is justified, because the ref has two men's lives in his hands.

Nonsense, this is merely an excuse for not doing one's job.  He also has their financial future in his hands, and TKO losses can kill a fighter's marketability.  Ruined marketability leads to longer careers, and more damage taken.  You are doing incredible damage stopping a fight early, just as you are stopping it late.  Steve Smoger lets fights go on, because he's good at his job, and rarely do fighters get injured on his watch.  You need to know when a fighter is truly defenseless, and when he is merely staggered.  Dock does not know, and neither do too many referees.The referee is closer to the picture than we are.

Maybe when the camera is doing a long shot, sure... but with technology, today, we get replays, close-ups, and have no reason to distrust our own eyes over a referee's.  Again, defending the ref because he had to make a snap decision, should not take away from the message: Then, make a GOOD decision!  Get better at your job, or let someone else do it.  When refs blow calls, they should be punished.  They never are, which is why this nonsense never stops.  Consequences are what will breed action.  There is also a star-issue here.  referees, many times, like to be the center of attention, or subconsciously steal the show.  A quick stoppage allows them to do so.  Add to that, they may get hired more by the winning fighter's promoter.Even Quillin didn't protest.

Don't put much credence into that.  You never know why a fighter is not protesting.  Fighters have masters... namely their promoters.  You never know if a financial gag-order has been placed on a fighter.  It's the reason you see so few fighters calling out anyone specific.  Promoters don't want fans clamoring for things that they cannot, or wish not, to provide.  Haymon may have ordered Quillin to be silent, until he can work his magical spin.  There may not be a rematch, therefore, don't hurt the company with demands for one.All of that being said, Quillin had showed potential chin issues when tagged by Andy Lee, but unlike most of Lee's opponents, he got back up, and continued to fight.  I think the lack of experience being hurt, led to Quillin's demise.  He should have taken a knee several times, but he did not.  I have no idea why fighters do this.  You know how quickly referee's will stop fights now.  TAKE A GOD-DAMNED MOTHERFUCKING KNEE!  This is a lesson all fighters must learn in current times.  You are not guaranteed the chance to come back in a fight.  Hassan N'Dam was dropped 10 times in the backyards of Quillin and Lemieux, but because the knockdown gave him a chance to recover, he was never stopped.  Take a lesson.

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KLITSCHKO-FURY RECAP

KLITSCHKO-FURY RECAP

So, after a decade, we finally have a new undisputed champion.  Tyson Fury became the first man to defeat Wladimir Klitschko in 11 1/2 years, and the first man ever to do so on points.  Big Wlad's previous losses came by running out of gas against two durable fighters (Brewster and Purrity), as well as getting caught cold by one of the fastest starters, and biggest punchers of the modern era (Corrie Sanders).  Fury, whose mouth is incredibly undisciplined, showed that his boxing can be disciplined.  he was willing to fight a long, dull, monotonous affair, doing just enough to keep the big man off his game.

True, Klitschko looked awful, but he has looked bad before, and still came away with victory.  Tonight, he was beaten, almost as clearly as he used to win.  There is a rematch clause, but to be honest, I am hoping Klitschko doesn't enforce it.  He will be 40 in march, has new family obligations, and is already the second longest reigning heavyweight champion, with the third most consecutive defenses.  What is left to do?  Fury vs. Deontay Wilder is considered much more of a toss-up fight than is/was Klitschko-Wilder.  Wilder may lose to Povetkin, who no one wants to see tackle with Klitschko again.

Klitschko is in the Mayweather-like position of boxing being better off with him gone.  Not that his dominance and education and comebacks weren't a welcome shift from the ghetto-like atmosphere that the Yanks and Brits often bring to the game.  However, as he aged, his scintillating performance became fewer and fewer.  Fury may be undefeated, but he is not the kind of fighter who is likely to finish his career that way.  He may lose, and win back the crown a few times.  He may be involved in as many snoozers as outright brawls, but will always say or do something interesting.  You never know with him, in the ring and out, so that is the fun.

Side note for the weekend: Lucien Bute fought like he used to.  He was fighting in the super middleweight division, had home ring advantage, and was in perfect shape.  he also looked like he had his old form back.  None of the excuses applied that he had against Pascal or even Froch.  He still lost.  That's how good DeGale is becoming.  If Groves can get himself a few decent wins in a row, that is a great revenge fight for him in the UK, for big money.  DeGale, however, is more interesting in coming back to the USA, to unify belts against Badou Jack.  Zurdo Ramirez would be another great unification, if the Mexican defeats Abraham as is expected.  The sky is the limit for "Chunky".

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COTTO-CANELO RECAP

COTTO-CANELO RECAP

The most picked outcome was again the outcome.  However, it was not the brawl that many were expecting.  If anything, the show had already been stolen by the Miura-Vargas brawl, which saw both fighters down, and a questionable stoppage.  It was a great fight, in which a title belt changed hands on a KO, and most certainly, a rematch will be fought.  While certainly more entertaining than most recent PPV, and competitive enough to make it tense, Canelo won by UD, just as most were predicting.  No one needs to see it a second time.

Both men should be praised for things that were not exactly their most known strengths.  Cotto's chin more than held up, and while Canelo is not the banger that many people think he is, Cotto did not so much as stagger, let alone wobble.  This is the same man who used to suffer flash knockdowns at 140lbs, so it is commendable.  Canelo, on the other hand, should be praised for his defense, hand speed, upper body movement, and ability to outbox Cotto in spots.  Cotto did a very good job of moving, and controlling when they exchanged, but in most of the rounds, all the telling blows were landed by Alvarez.  

While I had it a bit closer than the judges, 116-112, I realize I was giving Cotto any round that was close.  How anyone could have it any closer is beyond me.  I am the first to say that heavier shots should not be scored better than light punches if there is no damaging effect (see all of Provodnikov's losses for example), but Canelo actually outlanded Cotto as well.  Canelo actually won this fight with his defense, which is what made the difference.  True the chin difference allowed Canelo to stay in the pocket long enough to land, however, the 25 year old did not panic at Cotto's chin or heart, and just went back to making Cotto miss.

There are actually people out there, including Cotto himself and trainer Freddie Roach, who actually felt that Cotto won the fight.  It is quite sad that there is dissent on seemingly every decision.  The blame for this should be spread thinly over many layers of the sport.  Judges are not trustworthy in the slightest, to the point where fans cringe before even the most obvious of decisions are read.  Another level of blame goes to the preponderance of rematches... where lazy matchmakers and promoters would rather rehash an old deal than make a new one.  With the twice-a-year schedule most fighters are on, this is incredibly annoying, and hurts boxing.  

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DECEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

DECEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

Andy Lee vs. Billie Joe Saunders
This is the British Quillin-Jacobs, wherein this is finally happening.  This oft-cancelled fight is on it's 3rd try, and hopefully, that is the charm.  The winner of the UK and BK brawls can face each other and delay the inevitable takeover of Golovkin.  This fight is more even than people think.  Saunders has not fought the opposition that Lee has, but he is still fresh, young, and not relying on one big punch the way Lee has been lately.  Lee has not outscored a fighter in his last 3 fights, and I don't expect it to start now.  Saunders by MD, after maybe tasting the canvas first.

Luis Ortiz vs. Bryant Jennings
I am proud of both of them for taking this fight.  Jennings is doing so following up the Klitschko match... where he showed a great chin and heart.  Ortiz just fought recently, and could be sitting on his WBA mandatory status until a move by Chagaev, or Oquendo, or Browne, or whoever holds one of the 18 belts the WBA has created at heavyweight.  Instead, they are going after each other.  Ortiz has very good skills and power, but he does allow fighters inside, and after the chin Jennings showed against Klitschko, this could be a bad move.  Ortiz has never met any kind of resistance, and with Jennings, he will be up to his heck in it.  Jennings by decision.

Joshua Clottey vs. Gabriel Rosado
Normally I would not include a fight like this, but Rosado is one of those guys who keeps getting chances no matter how often he loses, because he tends to push good fighters harder than they are used to.  A top shelf journeyman, but a journeyman nonetheless.  Plus, if anyone can make Clottey exciting again, it is Rosado.  The Ghanan cannot afford any dull fights, after the taste of Pacquiao still lingers in our mouth.  Clottey by UD, after starting slow... and yes, there will be blood.

Omar Figueroa vs. Antonio DeMarco
Not sure yet if this fight is happening, but it seems to follow the plan for Figueroa's career.  He is the TX Abner Mares, where he will be matched seemingly tough, but if you scratch the surface, you will see most of his best opponents have had some of the granite chipped off of them already.  Call me when Figeuroa is matched with Broner or Postol.  Until then, he is exciting, but the recipe is the same.  DeMarco keeps reinventing himself... or at least rejuvenating himself, so he will make it exciting.  I do not think it will be enough.  Figueroa by decision or late round TKO, in a brawl.

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DECEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

DECEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

Daniel Jacobs vs. Peter Quillin
This fight is finally happening, and for the reason we figured it would... there is no one left.  Andy Lee has taken his show to his fellow British Isles opponents.  GGG-Canelo-Cotto are on a collision course for the legit championship.  This fight, which has made sense for years, is finally happening.  Jacobs and Quillin are both punchers with heart, while Jacobs is a much better finisher, and Quillin a better boxer.  Both are from Brooklyn, and have compelling personal stories.  They also have a big respect for one another, and the fight itself will be intriguing, but there may be a wild card here.  Getting dropped by light hitting Sergio Mora was not a good way to go into this fight for Jacobs.  I give him a punchers chance, but Quillin is fairly careful.  Kid Chocolate by UD, after some tense moments early.

Jesus Cuellar vs. Jonathan Oquendo
Oquendo may have earned this shot legitimately over Jhonny Gonzalez, but there is still the feeling that he may not be ready for it.  Cuellar, on the other hand, has been chomping at the bit for more showcase fights.  Oquendo is tough, but that will only take him rounds.  Cuellar by UD, and then hopefully a unification fight with Pedraza, who should be ex-champion after his loss/win over Edner Cherry.

Dominick Breazeale vs. Charles Martin
I am most excited for this fight than any other at heavyweight this year.. including Fury-Klitschko and Wilder-Stiverne.  Yes belts may be on the line there, but these are two American heavyweights who can hit like tons of bricks.  They are both unbeaten and largely untested.  These types of fights just don't happen anymore, and this is a great throwback.  Breazeale has the Olympic pedigree, but one may argue that Martin has looked more polished.  This is also not the first time Martin has been pitted against another prospect.  I have been fortunate to see both live, and unless his confidence betrays him, Martin should catch him eventually.  Martin by mid rounds KO.

Denis Shafikov vs. Rances Barthelemy
Barthelemy has looked vulnerable before, but not as frozen as Shafikov in the Russian's only other shot at the title.  It is near impossible to look good against Miguel Vasquez, and neither man did, but I think Barthelemy is too good, and too confident.  The Cuban by UD, in a dull affair.

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UNHOLYFIELD

UNHOLYFIELD

I don't want to misrepresent myself here.  Evander "Real Deal" Holyfield is a first ballot hall of famer, and a legit 4 time world champion in 2 weight classes.. unified or undisputed each time.  He succeeded during one of the toughest eras of heavyweights in boxing history, and even when losing, usually gave his opponents hell.  However, there are many reasons not to be a fan of Mr. Holyfield, nor to ever model oneself after him.  Some of these reasons are well-documented, while others are only known to boxing insiders.

Holyfield does not have the greatest reputation outside of the ring. While long revered as the god-fearing blood-and-guts warrior who was a gentleman outside the ring, it turns out that was not so black and white.  Repeated stories of rude-ness or surliness to fans, trainers, writers, and others in the boxing world have surfaced in recent years.  Add to that, his many children out of wed-lock, and his god-nonsense begins to show itself.  I'm glad he was able to use his faith to help save him from intimidation, but it became a bigger joke in his later career.  Whether predicting a 3rd round KO over Lennox Lewis, to predicting he would be unified champion a 4th time, god seemed to repeatedly be lying to Evander.  

When it comes to fighters who should not make hometown defenses, Holyfield often does not make my list.  This is mainly because unlike Cory Spinks, Mike Alvarado, or Michael Nunn, who suffered devastating KO losses at home, Holyfield was unbeaten in Atlanta.  However, if you scratch the surface, you'll see the story goes much deeper.  He had 3 title fights in Atlanta, his hometown.  In every case he was favored to win easily, and in every case, he struggled to do so.  Dwight Qawi could easily have been declared the winner of their 15 round WBA cruiserweight title fight.  I had Holyfield winning, but it was very close.  When they rematched on neutral ground, Holyfield dominated and stopped Qawi in 4 rounds.  He also was dropped by Bert Cooper in ATL, and struggled to win an 8-4 decision over Vaughn Bean.. a man who had never beaten an opponent with a winning record.

The other two big elephants in the room are the ones everyone knows about.  He is a dirty fighter, who stayed in the game too long.  It's ironic that he was the victim of the world's most famous foul (Tyson's ear bite), because boxing experts routinely rank him ahead of Tyson when compiling boxing's dirty dozen.  Headbutts, elbows, low blows, etc.  You name it, Holyfield did it, and more and more as his skills eroded.  He probably should have retired after the second Moorer fight, way back in 1997.  At that point he was already a 3-time unified world champion, who had beaten every man he'd ever faced.  He made more money (which he later squandered... yet another aspect of his less-than-savory character), but never looked as good as he did that night.

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DEATH OF JOURNALISM

DEATH OF JOURNALISM

People of my generation have watched the gradual decline of broadcast journalism for many years.  I am only 39, so I never got to really enjoy the days of the Walter Cronkites, Edwin Newmans, and Clete Roberts's.  However, I remember a time when journalists were lauded and applauded for their integrity.  These were the journalists with credible sources that they would not reveal, or who got to break the stories themselves in well-written articles.  

Ahh, the good old days of broadcast journalism.  These were men (and women) who worked tirelessly to bring true stories, and presented them fairly yet critically.  Tabloid journalism was a clear line, and a huge jump away from these individuals, who seemed to be responsible only to themselves and the truth.  I know I am romanticizing them, but what I say about the clear line is true.  Like most other lines these days (professional vs. amateur, regular acting vs. porn, adulthood vs. childhood, etc.) the lines of journalism have been tremendously blurred.  

Nowadays in journalism, like in those other categories, everyone thinks they can do it.  It is an insult to those who are truly trained and capable, but in a world where everyone gets trophies, respect for others' accomplishments and abilities gets lost in the shuffle.  This is not a new phenomena, I am aware, but it has bled into too many areas of society.  This only becomes a true tragedy when it affects those who are also perfectly capable, and especially those who once had our respect.  When the seasoned journalist becomes the twitter rumor mill, it is truly depressing.  I can now officially say that has happened to boxing commentators.

Maybe we off-TV writers have largely been spared, but we will not be for long.  We are only spared because we are not paid as much (if at all) for our work, so we have the freedom to tell the truth.  However, as bad as Don King and Bob Arum have been in many aspects for boxing, when it comes to forcing journalists to toe a corporate line, they never seemed to get involved much.  The same cannot be said for Haymon and Golden Boy.  I watched my own credential pulled for criticizing GBP practices.

Haymon, too, has ruined TV boxing coverage by even buying out ESPN's once brutally honest coverage, and hijacking it into his rah-rah format, featuring unqualified commentators.  It is not just the new faces, however.  Even Teddy Atlas seems not to question as much as he once used to, since the PBC take over of ESPN.  That is truly sad.  However, these promoters are not alone.  The networks themselves are equally to blame.  HBO is probably the worst offender, as the house fighters are built up to a cringe-worthy degree.  Jim Lampley has always been known to get carried away about a fighter he admires, but in recent years it seems that the entire broadcast team has been pulled over to this nonsense.  

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NOVEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

NOVEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

Denis Lebedev vs. Lateef Kayode
So, Lebedev and his cronies have successfully swindled the belt from the better man in Guillermo Jones.  However, the boxing ability that stifled Lebedev will not be present here.  Kayode, whose nickname is Power, really doesn't have as much when he is in with real fighters.  While he may have had his first 2 blemishes erased by performance enhancing drugs (the only thing he has in common with Lebedev), the damage done to his ego was very real.  A punchers chance is all, and I am not betting on it.  Lebedev by wide UD, or late TKO.

Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez
The biggest fight of the year not involving Floyd Mayweather.  The winner will also not be able to rest and enjoy this victory (despite the winners always saying they want to do that), because the winner of Golovkin-Lemieux will be there calling them out, supported by the fans.  This one is tough, as each man has faced better fighters than the other, but maybe not as much of a pick 'em fight.  I am not sold on the "new Cotto", I think it was more the result of great timing, and careful matchmaking.  Canelo's chin has shown itself to be very good, even if he has not been hit by a puncher like Cotto yet (Kirkland occasionally got him, but couldn't move him).  Canelo is younger, hungrier, and has better skin, and in the long run, I like that combo.  Canelo by MD or late TKO, after falling behind in the first half of the fight.

Timothy Bradley vs. Brandon Rios
This fight has the potential to be fight of the year, simply because the two names involved have been in those types of fights on multiple occasions.  However, both have learned a lot since then, and I feel we may be in for a good fight, moreso than a great one.  It all depends on what each man has left as well, as neither man is short on damage, and who knows when that is going to show up.  Also, both men have made recent changes in their training camps that have added new aspects to their game.  The choice of Teddy Atlas to train Bradley seems bizarre, because motivation is the last thing Bradley needs.  He needs the discipline to stick with a game plan.  If he does so, he will easily outbox Rios, whom he has no prayer of hurting.  I believe it will switch off from being a war, which benefits Rios, and a boxing match which benefits Bradley.  It will be more one sided when Bradley has his way.  Bradley by a close UD.

Klitschko v. Fury - hold over
I already did this, and nothing has changed since the postponement... Klitschko by long boring UD.

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NOVEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

NOVEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

Cesar Cuenca vs. Edvard Troyanovsky
Cuenca's record is impressive... not beating 48 people, but doing it without knocking out anyone.  Even if he was trying to go the distance, to only have 2 KOs is quite impressive.  He even won on the road to gain the IBF belt at 140lbs, showing he can dominate enough,to win in such circumstances.  However, he has yet to run across Russian-level corruption.  Troyanovsky can probably do enough to make it an ugly fight, and muddle the picture to judges.  Cuencas boxing skills will only be enough for the first few rounds.  Troyanovsky by close controversial decision.

James De Gale vs. Lucien Bute
I don't know what Bute has done to earn another crack at his old belt, but the name recognition is what we are going on here.  DeGale-Groves 2 would have been a big fight had Groves won his title shot last month against Badou Jack, but he did not, and the start-over is apparent.  Bute may be back at his most comfortable division, but the memories of what happened to him are still there.  A safety first Bute, who is not letting his brutal body punches go, is nothing for DeGale to be concerned with.  DeGale by UD, or late KO, depending on how badly he wants it.

Jurgen Brahmer vs. Thomas Oosthuizen
This fight is only worthy of covering, because the 175lb division is so hot right now.  The belt is meaningless, but the winner will be the IBO and WBA regular champion, meaning when the Wards, Stevensons, Fonfaras, Beterbievs, and Kovalevs rush to avoid one another, they may come calling to this "champion"  Brahmer is annoyingly resilient, and Oosthuizen has shown a lack of motivation both in and out of the ring.  yet, this is his promoters promotion, and he is at his peak, while Brahmer has to be getting old one of these days.  Oosthuizen by MD.

Erislandy Lara vs. Jan Zaveck
Lara is one of those fighters having a bit of a hard time finding fights at 154lbs in 2016.  This once hot division has really cooled.  He already fought Canelo and Trout, and the Charlos are his stablemates.  Not much left for Lara to do here, unless people want to see the stink-fest that he vs. Demetrius Andrade would be.  Other than that, he is biding his time until GGG or Cotto decide to move down.  Zaveck has heart, but at this stage, little else.  He will put the ear muffs on, hoping to time Lara against the ropes as Angulo was able to do.  Lara by late TKO on cuts, after winning every round.

Arthur Abraham vs. Martin Murray
The battle of two men who put the ear muffs on, and get outboxed.  

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nicolas Walters are barely fighting anymore, and on the rare occasion they do, it is not against anyone exciting.  I am not sure what kind of jinx that beating Nonito Donaire is, but it is a bizarre occurrence.  I am not sure why this is, actually, but I think it has something to do with Bob Arum.  He does not like his golden geese to be defeated, and it seems that every time it happens, he goes out of his way to ruin the man who did it.  

Whether this is done through never promoting them effectively (yes, in many cases, his big names are beaten by his OWN fighters!), blocking his fighters from facing them, or stalling them in court, it always happens.  Ask Zahir Raheem.  After Raheem defeated Erik Morales, he watched as Arum defiantly announced that the Morales-Pacquiao rematch would still take place.  Arum then buried Raheem on an undercard.  If I were Vasyl Lomachencko, I would never leave Top Rank.  Arum might not be the best promoter anymore, but he is certainly the worst ex-promoter in the world.

Speaking of ex-promoters, what is Al Haymon exactly?  A promoter or a manager?  This blurred line distinction and monopolizing of TV networks may be giving boxing fans many more TV fight cards, but ultimately, it may hasten his downfall.  I love that those doors are open, but Haymon is breaking the law to the point where it is hard to imagine a scenario where he does not get taken down eventually.  I hope it is not by Golden Boy or Top Rank, who are every bit as corrupt and monopolizing (just not as effective), but rather his own hand.  Boxing does better with healthy competition, where legit smaller promoters still have a chance, and have a few world champions.

Speaking of healthy, boxing has had a rather injury-free year (except the UK), but as we lead into the final stretch, the cancellations are starting again.  Klitschko-Fury, Artur Beterbiev, Brook-Chaves, and Brahmer-Oosthuizen.  I never trust any Brahmer cancellation, as he does it way too often.  He has found a way to cancel 4 fights in the last 4 years by my count.  however, Klitschko-Fury is a fight that fans are looking forward to, and Brook and Beterbiev cannot afford their careers to be stalled.  In a time where fighter only PLAN 2-3 fights a year, these injuries do not make sense.  Something is fishy here, and not just Bryant Jennings' diet.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

If China's market collapses, does that mean Bob Arum has to do business back in the USA?  He may not be able to anyway, as he is the last non-Haymon tv presence that appears to be allowed on networks.  Even then, he is reduced in the English speaking market to HBO and Tru-TV.  Maybe it's time for a European campaign for Top Rank, as the two biggest fights he can make right now involve Amir Khan and Kell Brook against Pacquiao and Bradley, respectively.  If Khan and Brook each emerge victorious, it would be huge for Britain, but Bob would be frozen out.  Still, being involved in those two Northern England megafights will buy him a lot of pounds to wait around until the yen is working again.

Speaking of the foreign market, we are not hearing much from the medalists that were supposedly signed by Arum.  Sure, Lomachenko is becoming a star, but Ryota Murata seems to be staying put in Japan, even as hot a division as middleweight is right now.  Maybe they saw something that made them hesitate as to whether he would make a good pro, but that realization certainly did not stop the marketing machine that was You Shiming.  I say 'was', because, he has been exposed.  Maybe he will eventually win a belt or two, but it appears that Zou Shiming is Chinese for Paul Gonzales.

Speaking of L.A. native 1984 Olympic gold medalists, who didn't win world titles as professionals (what a reach!), former cruiserweight/heavyweight Henry Tillman now has new life as a trainer, working in one of the heavyweight factories in Carson, CA.  He has his own gym, and is working with such contenders as Prince Charles Martin.  If you have not heard of Martin, you will, very soon.  Big man, with a big punch, and a cool head.  Don't look for Martin to get many shots unless fighters are forced to.  He is for real.

Speaking of real, Mayweather-Berto is actually finally doing something that was not being done without Floyd choosing a dance partner... namely, forcing real fights at welterweight.  We may actually get Pacquiao-Khan (a much more deserving fight for either man), and Brook-Bradley (an actual fight between titlists who are arguably in the top 3 of current welterweights.  Forget the Haymon stable... Garcia and Thurman will not be matched until it is entirely unavoidable.  Also, as they share a manager with the great Mayweather, meaning that even if a clear welterweight leader emerges in the next year, if it is not Khan, do not look for Floyd to face Bradley or Brook.  Too risky, and not an in-house promotion.  Therefore look for more over-the-hill former welterweight names to be dug up for the two of them to face until Floyd either fights one of them, or (for real, actually) retires.

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MAYWEATHER-BERTO PREVIEW

MAYWEATHER-BERTO PREVIEW

It seems like as a good of a time as any to analyze the Berto-Mayweather match-up.  Most fans, including myself, would have preferred a fight with Bradley, Thurman, or even Khan.  However, recent competition levels of those men are not exactly exciting, and they refuse to face each other.  Rather, they are waiting in line for the Mayweather sweepstakes.  Now that it looks to be Mayweather's last fight, some of them are starting to negotiate to face each other.  Pacquiao may face Khan, and now Brook may be facing Bradley.  Gracia and Thurman seem to not be headed togetehr, but I hope I am wrong.

Mayweather makes the point that like Khan, who many fans wanted to see him fight, is no different than Berto.  Certainly, he does have a case.  Berto and Khan both are two time champions with 3 losses, and have had to rebuild from problems outside the ring as well.  However, Khan brings a more impressive resume of late, as well as his own major fan base.  It seemed to make more sense than facing a man coming off a controversial stoppage win over a glorified journeyman in Josesito Lopez.  However, Khan's 3 losses were a bad decision, and two early KO losses.  Berto's 3 losses were in fight of the year candidates, 2 by decision, and one by controversial stoppage in a fight he was winning.  Also, 2 of the men who beat Berto were awarded shots at Floyd immediately thereafter.

However, The logic really seems to be that he just had what was supposed to be his hardest fight in Pacquiao (it wasn't), so he should get one of his easiest as a farewell.  Add to that, the personal life issues of a man approaching 40, who fights exclusively off of his reflexes.  Floyd is watching his uncle die a painfully slow death from diabetes, and it looks like the ravages of boxing have reared their ugly heads, too.  Roger is having memory problems, now.  However, Floyd has barely been hit, compared to many brutal KO losses for Roger (Chavez twice, Pineda, Lockridge, etc.), but he does seem to have the same diet problems that led his father and uncle to premature disease, as well as their genetics.  Therefore, his fear is quite founded.

Due to these realities, Mayweather has gotten a ton more careful in recent fights, to the point where casual fans are forgetting that Mayweather used to engage in many exciting scraps.  Perhaps he thinks that Berto will provide excitement, without really threatening to win, as he did against Guerrero.  I agree with this assessment.  Berto's chin has never been bad, but it is getting worse, and is ripe for the plucking... giving Floyd the chance to score a KO, or at least knockdowns.  He will also be going against a quick handed counter-puncher who doesn't present the same offensive threat that Khan's fists would.  I feel that Berto will remain on his feet, more from a result of Mayweather's lack of killer instinct than anything else.  Berto will mix it up, win a few rounds, then get dominated, until his corner or the doctor stops it from a badly swollen eye.  Mayweather by 9th round TKO.

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SEPTEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS

SEPTEMBER 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS

This is a rather slow September, considering it includes a heavyweight belt-holder and the best pound for pound fighter in the world.  However, the TBA theme in boxing, especially with Al Haymon fighters, continues here.  I will devote an entire article to Mayweather-Berto, so it is not included here, but as of press time, it is looking like Wilder will defend against unranked Hughie Fury, while Quillin has not even had an opponent selected for him.  The afterthought of opponents let's you in a bit on the matchmaking ideas of Haymon, especially for his unbeaten fighters.  Therefore these are the "name" fights I am able to discuss, for now.

Adonis Stevenson vs. Tommy Karpency
Stevenson's days as champion are numbered.  Other than one big left hand, the fighter of the year for 2013 would be a big underdog against Kovalev or Ward.  Promotional problems may keep him away from those fighters, but with Beterbiev and Alvarez also sharing Haymon and Montreal, odds are it will come to an end shortly.  For now, however, he is looking at a steady stream of nobodies until he is forced to face someone with a pulse.  No offense to Karpency, who gave his all in a dream shot against Chad Dawson.  However, even against a shot and crippled Dawson, he barely won the fight.  That tells you all you need to know.  Stevenson by KO, probably by round 5.

Roman Martinez vs. Orlando Salido 2
9 lives?  Forget about it.  Salido has seemingly hundreds, and just when you think he is done, he comes back with another impressive victory.  He has plenty of tricks (not all of them legal) to keep him in tough fights, and although both men looked pathetic against Mikey Garcia... who didn't?  I may be predicting this with my heart, rather than my head, but I have not been a fan of Salido since his cheating win over Lomchenko.  Salido hit low, came in heavy, and still I thought Loma deserved the decision.  My official pick is Martinez by UD again.  However, if Salido somehow came up with yet another resurrection, I would not be surprised.

Andy Lee vs. Billy Joe Saunders
This may be the only close, hard to predict, fight of the month.  In a rare forced mandatory by the WBO, Lee must face a real threat in his hometown middleweight title defense.  Just ask Michael Nunn and Sergio Martinez how well that works out.  Saunders has looked good, albeit against lesser opposition, and it seems as if Lee has been living on borrowed time for a while now.  He is legitimately talented and has heart, but his two biggest wins came via one punch KO in fights he was losing.  Even his draw with Quillin was more a testament to Quillin's terrible lack of finishing skills, than his own abilities.  I am picking the upset here.  Saunders by late round TKO, maybe from behind.

Deontay Wilder vs. Hughie Fury
I hope this fight does not happen.  It is an attempt from a marketing perspective to get a Wilder - Fury family feud going on.  Haymon is assuming, as all are, that Tyson Fury will be soundly beaten by Wladimir Klitschko, and Wilder can make more money finishing off the wounded prey, if there is a 'family' aspect to the marketing.  Hughie Fury has been impressing some people with his development, as has Tyson, but ring experience is a whole different matter.  However, we can kick and scream over a fighter's lack of credentials all we want.  Haymon does not care.  Just ask Rod Salka.  If the WBC does not sanction this fight, he will make it non-title.  That way, there is even less risk to his prize heavyweight.  Fury might land a knee-buckling shot or two, but all that will do is focus Wilder, who will finish him off soon after.  Wilder by KO, inside of 3 rounds.

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Boxing Recap: August 15, 2015

Boxing Recap: August 15, 2015

Last weekend was a fun one in terms of which fighters we got to see, but not every fight was as much fun.  Marco Huck vs. Krystoff Glowacki was the second Cruiserweight offering of Haymon on a PBC card in the last month.  BJ Flores vs. Beibut Shumenov was a stink fest with Shumenov pecking and running his way to a close decision win.  Huck-Glowacki was a brawl, with both fighters hitting the deck, in a close fight that ended with a brutal KO, and the title changing hands.  I don't anyone wants to see Shumenov or Flores in the ring again soon (especially Shumenov), but if they are, kit should be against Huck or Glowacki, who will certainly make them fight.

Antonio Tarver vs. Steve Cunningham did not answer any questions at all.  That is exactly what both men wanted.  Cunningham gets to remain a tough assignment, if not always an exciting one, for top heavyweights, while Tarver keeps his dream of a heavyweight title shot alive.  Given both men's history with judges (especially Cunningham), one had to figure out who to rob, in order to score the fight.  Each round was close, and I have no argument with the draw, but Cunningham has already lost to Fury, the least talented of the big 4 at heavyweight right now (Klitschko, Wilder, and Povetkin are the others).  Therefore, I do not want to see what happens when either of these two step in with them.  Tarver's chin and defensive abilities may avoid embarrassment against Wilder, but he is too old and slow to beat him.

Lucien Bute is back, I guess... but who cares.  he cannot beat the top 175lbers, and is just wasting his time, and taking damage.  His Italian opponent had no chance to win, and everyone, including his corner, knew it.  Are they really thinking of putting him in with Beterbiev, Stevenson, or Alvarez... the Montreal trifecta of power punchers?  It would be suicide.  Alvarez seems to be maturing well, as he had a live opponent last Saturday, and went a full 12 rounds of rugged fighting.  As long as Haymon has a hand in this, however, do not look for any of the Montreal big names to be fighting each other.  That is not his way.  They will simply share cards until one or more of them lose, and then we may see some good matchups.

Quillin and Wilder announced their opponents, and as expected, they are foreigners with weak resumes, who no one has heard of.  Kudos to Haymon for being consistent.  If someone is unbeaten, they will never be tested.  The best move for the legacy of both men is to lose on purpose.  Then, like Broner, they will finally get the big fights.  However, when you have that ), Haymon will guarantee you fighting stiffs until it goes.  I don't mean for a little while.  Just ask Keith Thurman how long this coddling can last.

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WHAT'S THE DELAY?

WHAT'S THE DELAY?

I can see not announcing fights until the last minute when fighters are fighting frequently, but in these days of twice a year, it is unnecessary.  Announcing dates before announcing venues?  Announcing venues before announcing opponents.  Shouldn't the TV network be the last thing figured out, and not the first or second.  In the Al Haymon era, we are getting more televised fights, which is a good thing.  however, the quality has suffered.  ESPN used to be where the competitive match-ups took place, now they are yet another network dedicated to showcasing one fighter per card.  This blatant disregard for match-ups speaks to the soft-touches of the fighters therein is not even hidden.

 We know that Floyd Mayweather is fighting on September 12.  We don't know against who (it is assumed Andre Berto, but no official announcement has taken place as of this writing), but we know he is fighting then.  We had assumed it would be free on CBS, now, apparently that is off the table for now.  When you run 90% of the networks that feature boxing, those changes can be made last minute.  We also know Deontay Wilder is fighting on September 26.  We even know where (Hollywood, Florida).  We also know that it will be on NBCSN, although that was not the original intent, and I would not be surprised if that changed.  We just don't know who he is fighting.

 Mayweather is part of team Haymon, even if we may often forget that, but his style of matchmaking, and view of the boxing public is shaped by his cohorts in business.  The attitude of "you will watch my fights regardless of who I fight" is what is making the actual opponent such an afterthought.  Also, the art of matchmaking used to be like casting a movie... it was based on what kind of performances could be generated.  Nowadays, matchmaking is more like an HR chore.. just trying to fill a temp to perm position.  In the Haymon planet, everything seems to be leading up to a big matchup that hardly ever happens.  

Why did Garcia-Peterson take so long to put together?  Where is Jacobs vs. Quillin.  What about Stevenson vs. Beterbiev?  These are all big fights in which Haymon has both men in question.  He can't lose, and yet, not only do we never see it, we see both parties take few, if any risks.  Bob Arum plays the same game, as we can see at featherweight, but when he is down to a few fighters in a division, he matches them.  Not so with Haymon.  Golden Boy has also been guilty of turning TV offerings into showcase only cards, but both of those promotional companies are down to very few English speaking outlets anyway.

 This will continue until the numbers start to hurt.  Wilder will be forced to face Povetkin by next June, so Haymon's plan of a few optional defenses to build his skills and brand is not bad, if we know we have an end date.  Mayweather will be gone soon, but I for one would like to see both men's September fights bite the dust.  Not in action, just in ratings.  Mr. Haymon has gotten too "big for his britches".  He and his business model need to be taken down a peg or two.

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CRUISERS - A SHIFT?

CRUISERS - A SHIFT?

For nearly a decade, the cruiserweight division has been entirely lost on Americans.  It seems as if every 15 years or so, we have a reason to pay attention, and then it slowly fades. The 200lb division should be one of boxing's glamour divisions.  There is action, knockouts, great athletes who are big enough to cause knockouts, yet small enough to be athletic.  The reasons it has not become big money stateside are numerous.  Mainly, it is just so close to heavyweight, that once fighters get near it, they feel they can jump up and make heavyweight money.  

Indeed, some major world champions have thought so little of the cruiserweight division that they leap over it entirely.  Michael Spinks was a dominant light heavyweight champion, who went straight after Heavyweight champion Larry Holmes.  Michael Moorer went from a fractional belt holder at 175, who could not get unification bouts, to a heavyweight contender... never having once laced up the gloves at cruiser.  Roy Jones also skipped cruiserweight entirely, when he followed up years of light heavyweight domination with a challenge of heavyweight beltholder John Ruiz.  Jones is just now, 12 years later, plying his trade at 200lbs.

Evander Holyfield first caused us to pay attention by unifying the belts and engaging in spirited battles with the likes of Henry Tillman and Dwight Muhammad Qawi.  However, the culmination of his KO win over Carlos DeLeon was not a long list of defenses.  Rather, it was a predictable move up to heavyweight.  James Toney finally got into shape long enough to dethrone longtime belt holder Vassily Jirov in 2003, yet that, too, was his last fight at cruiserweight.

 O'Neill Bell became the second man to unify belts after he defeated Jean-Marc Mormeck at Madison Square garden in 2006.  However, he parlayed it into nothing, and never won another meaningful fight.  He didn't fight for 14 months, then lost the belts back to Mormeck.  David Haye also moved right up to heavyweight after unifying titles with wins over Mormeck and Enzo Maccarinelli.  The only people who have been interested, it seems, in staying at 200lbs, have been those making money in Europe: Anaclet Wamba, Juan Carlos Gomez, and nowadays: Marco Huck, Denis Lebedev, Grigory Drozd, and Yoan Hernandez.

 However, the summer of 2015 is bringing us two fights on our shores in the cruiserweight division.  Huck vs. Krystoff Glowacki will be a title fight held in New Jersey, while this weekend, contender turned commentator BJ Flores will take on former 175lb-titlist Beibut Shumenov.  Both fights will be televised.  Should these men put on the scraps their division is famous for, maybe we can get a taste for cruisers once again.  

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AUGUST 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS

AUGUST 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS

Danny Garcia vs. Paulie Malignaggi
This fight is not doing much to make Brooklyn fans continue to support Garcia, both because he is fighting a BK native, and because Malignaggi is a light-hitting fighter whose best days appear to be behind him.  However, this fight is actually happening for one reason and one reason only, to see if Garcia looked bad in the last year because of weight, or opposition.  He is largely a hype job, yet the way he continued to hurt Khan, and outbox Matthysse was impressive.  
He does nothing at lower than B level meaning wins over him will always be difficult.  If Malignaggi was in the ring with Garcia instead of Peterson, this March, Paulie easily wins that fight.  Lamont was trying something, at which Paulie has mastered.  However, Haymon does not make this fight unless Garcia is sure to win it, so I think we are going to see a non-drained, pressure-fighting Garcia, who eventually pounds an aging Malignaggi into submission... probably by round 10.

Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergio Mora
Danny Jacobs and Peter Quillin seem to be continuing their "everyone else except each other, no matter how much sense it makes" tour.  Quillin at least took on Lee, while Jacobs level of opposition has only leveled off at mediocre status.  Mora still has some boxing skills, and his wins and losses almost always seem to be close struggles, but unless Jacobs goes very wild, the pressure will get to him.  Jacobs by late TKO or decision.

Steve Cunningham vs. Antonio Tarver
Neither one of these men should be heavyweights, but in a wide open division, the winner could get a shot at Deontay Wilder.. who apparently does not have to fulfill his mandatory against Povetkin until next year.  Cunningham and Tarver each have not exactly been favorites of judges, but Tarver has brought his power up, while Cunningham never had much to bring up anyway.  Cunningham is an inspirational story, but I think he should be back at cruiser, and back in Germany, making big money to get robbed against lesser fighters.  Tarver by decision or late TKO.

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares
This is finally happening, and I must say I am a bit surprised.  Haymon, however, will risk fighters who have lost once, and his unbeaten fighters, well.... only if an even scarier proposition awaits (Lomachenko, Walters, etc).  Mares is too big a question-mark to accurately predict, but I think a pressure fighter like Santa Cruz will be too much at this stage.  Leo is not a puncher, though, so Mares should be able to last, and hold his own.  Santa Cruz by exciting UD, after a slower start.

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JULY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

JULY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs. Victor Emiliano Ramirez
Other than two names and latin heritage the two men are very different.  Ramirez is all about momentum, while Hernandez has never been allowed to gain any.  The Cuban may be Ring magazine's best cruiserweight, but as a fight with promotional stablemate Marco Huck never happened, you have to wonder which one of them Sauerland was protecting.  Huck remained active, while Hernandez did not.  He is lucky to fight once a year, and maybe it is just wishful thinking, but I believe his shaky chin will betray him in this fight.  Ramirez by late round TKO, unless the Sauerland mafia does something to overturn it.

BJ Flores vs. Beibut Shumenov
Speaking of crusierweights, I cannot recall the last time I have been able to predict two fights in that division in the same month, let alone two western hemisphere winners.  This is the first US-televised non-title fight between semi-name contenders in this division I can recall in over a decade.  Shumenov and Flores each have bodies built for boxing.  The trouble is, their minds are also top-notch, which has led to outside interests distracting them from boxing, as well as bad promotional decisions.  The cruiserweight division rarely disappoints with action, and eventually, I don't think it will here either.  Flores however, is just too big, and I think Shumenov's style depends on a strength advantage he won't have here.  Flores by decision or late round KO, after a slow first few rounds.

Carl Frampton vs. Alejandro Gonzalez
Cobrita Jr. is a live dog in this fight, but one has to think Haymon would not have brought Frampton here if he was planning for him to lose.  True, it is a convenient way to avoid Scott Quigg (who himself has a live dog against him this month in Kiko Martinez, quick pick: Quigg by close UD), but I think he is building towards Frampton fighting Leo Santa Cruz, so Frampton cannot lose yet.  Style-wise this is the kind of guy Frampton figures out early, but will have a hard time putting away.  I would not be surprised with a few head clashes and blood here, but I think we get a final bell out of this one.  Frampton by wide UD.

Another quick pick: Arthur Abraham UD over Robert Steiglitz.  These two fight each other 4 times for 2 reasons.  One, because they can't beat the Americans or Brits, and two: because no one else outside of Germany cares.  The WBO should be ashamed they call this a title fight, but they are laughing all the way to the bank.

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JULY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

JULY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

Hank Lundy vs. Mauricio Herrera
This fight could be very boring, yet these are two men with unexciting styles that still manage to be in some exciting fights.  Lundy is the bigger puncher of the two, but Herrera has an iron chin.  Herrera probably won't hurt Hammerin Hank either, so it will be down to boxing skills.  Don't believe the hype of Herrera's recent bad luck.. he has won as many close decisions as he has lost.. and it was always the slicker boxers (Mike Dallas and Cleotis Pendarvis) who were crying foul after losing to Mauricio.  Lundy is better than both of them.  Powerful fighters have been Lundy's undoing, and Herrera is not likely to hit hard enough to stop the boxing skills.  Lundy by easier than expected UD.

Sharif Bogere vs. Michael Angelo Perez
Bogere and Perez are both boxers who have needed exposure, and second chances.  Bogere losing to Abril is nothing to be ashamed of... as many can argue that Abril has never legitimately lost a fight.  However, will he bounce back after the loss, or with "The Artist" be too tough, and have too much momentum?  I am not totally sold on Perez, and think the 2nd chance is coming at the perfect time for Bogere.  It won't be scintillating, but Perez will be chasing Sharif all night.  Bogere by UD.

Tony Harrison vs. Willie Nelson
Nelson has never shied away from fighting the toughest opposition.  Yet, I believe that has ultimately caught up with him.  While he may be the first to really tag the young upstart Harrison, his own chin is not perfect.  This is a legit test for Harrison, and maybe the first one of his career, but an unbeaten Nelson would have been more confident, and more effective.  I think his heart, combined with his upright style, will actually make it an easier night for Harrison.  Harrison by 3rd round KO, probably after many knockdowns.

Sergei Kovalev vs. Nadjib Mohamedi
One thing that the Frenchman will likely not be is afraid.  Although Anatoliy Dudchecnko is not a world beater, he was a big puncher, and Mohamedi took his best shots, rolled with most of them, and came back with a ferocity that belied his record.  He will be more motivated now than he has ever been, but will it be enough?  No.  In a word, no.  This is a different level, and even if Kovalev starts slow, he will be in the groove by round 2, breaking down Mohamedi quickly.  Kovalev by 4th round KO, probably with a towel being thrown in, as the Frenchman tries to fire back.

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COULD IT BE ANY 'WILDER'?

COULD IT BE ANY 'WILDER'?

I know the USA has been hurting for great heavyweights, or at least high-level heavyweight fights to take place on our shores.  However, 3 world title fights have been fought in our country in 2015, and the result has not been what we expected.  For starters, the 3 match-ups consisted of HBO and Showtime coverage only, so thus far, the network TV re-charge of boxing has not included the big boys.  Secondly, so far we have expected 3 scintillating early knockouts, and instead got 2 decisions and a late KO.  

Wladimir Klitschko came to NYC to defend against the second best USA heavyweight in the world, according to most experts.  the fight went pretty much according to plan, with Klitschko landing jabs, and the occasional right hand or left hook, while being to afraid to throw any body shots or uppercuts.  The only thing that we didn't plan on was Bryant Jennings' chin.  he absorbed Klitschko's bombs well, and even moved his hands occasionally to stela rounds, when Big Wlad was resting.  Not exactly the return to our shores that we were hoping for, when it comes to the legit heavyweight champion of the world.

Deontay Wilder, on the other hand, has already fought twice in 2015.  The 2008 bronze medalist went the distance in a wide decision win over Bermane Stiverne to capture the belt.  he then defeated lightly regarded Eric Molina by 9th round KO, after dropping him 4 times, and surviving a hard couple of shots in round 3.  These things may be essential for his development, but if he wanted US fans to take notice of his chances against the elite... he should have stopped Stiverne late, and Molina early.  

Now, while we find Wilder fights a bit more interesting, we are not exactly excited by his chances with Klitschko or even Povetkin, who he must face.  Haymon can steer him away from most threats, and is already pulling out all the stops to delay the Povetkin fight, but eventually that will have to take place.  Haymon has a modus operandi with unbeaten fighters, in that he rarely risks them.  Therefore, whether he believes in Wilder or not, the big Alabaman will be moved as if he is a piece of fine china, not a big, scary heavyweight bomber.  

Tyson Fury has improved his skills impressively, but at his core, he is a glassed-jawed bum.  Klitschko will likely expose him in either a boring grab fest, or a brutal KO.  If Fury looks anything less than pathetic, however, Wilder may make big money taking him on.  Other than that, Povetkin, who has been scoring big KOs lately, and seems to be coming into his own, may put a quick end to our nations flirtation with heavyweight importance.  Either way, at least Wilder finds it hard to bore us.  That is always good news.

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