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Jun 27th
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Home Boxing

Boxing Editorials

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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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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Jim Quiocho RIP

Jim Quiocho RIP

Jim Quiocho was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1927. He begin his boxing career at the age of 17 and from 1945-46 was ranked as a top amateur in the state.  Jim also enrolled in the Air force in 1947 and was a boxing champ for the Air force Team in Germany. He had the boxing bug and he also wanted to coach boxing by 1953. He was a coach of the Pacific Area Boxing Team in that year and helped guide two of his team boxers to Gold at The World Air force Boxing Championships at the Lackland Air force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Back in the USA Mainland, Jim became a boxing coach at Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas. He was asked to officiate boxing too and started that phase of his r in 1954. Officiating took Jim back to the seas where in 1954 he was selected to be a boxing official for The Pacific Ocean Inter-Service Boxing championships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He continued on doing coaching and officiating until his retirement from the United States Air Force in 1967.

Jim found his way back to El Paso, Texas and went to UTEP where he obtained both his undergraduate and Master’s Degrees from 1967 - 1970. Then, Jim was quickly hired by the El Paso YMCA. During his decade of work at the YMCA, Jim implemented many fitness programs including the renowned “Run for Your Life” program. He was also instrumental in 1978 of having the YMCA host a National Volleyball Tournament.

Jim gained notice from The Texas House of Representatives and in 1972 and was duly honored by them as they citied his outstanding service in the field of health and physical education. During this time, Jim also continued to serve as a boxing official. Then in 1983, he was selected as a faculty instructor in The Exercise and Sports Science Department of The El Paso Community College. He held that position for many years before retiring a second time. But, he never retired from serving the boxing community.

Jim was doing quite well as a boxing official – and so well in fact- that he was selected to referee the Robin Blake versus Ruben Munoz World Championship Bout  which was nationally televised on The Wide World of Sports. He then continued to excel in refereeing until he was in his seventies. Jim also took the time and tasks of helping the Board of Directors of the El Paso Boxing/Martial Arts Hall of Fames from 1993 until 1996 when he was chosen to be an honored inducted himself. From that moment on, Jim joined the Board of Directors for a four year tenure.Jim is married to Carrie Beth Quiocho and they have spent decades together in the sports world and in the often violent sport of boxing. They have been charitable and humble in all dealings with boxers, boxing officials, the public and our elected officials.

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GGG POSSIBILITIES, Part 2

GGG POSSIBILITIES, Part 2

GGG has been number one for at least 2 years, and now Cotto has hinted that he will give up the WBC belt if they try to force the GGG fight.  This is likely because Cotto sees dollar signs with Canelo, as well as an opponent he actually has a chance of beating.  

This means we will probably not see GGG against any stars until 2016... but regarding of all the top fighters in an around him who have been mentioned as opponents, let's break down the odds of it happening, and the prognosis if it did.  In round 1 of this analysis, I told of the least likely candidates.  Now, let's look at the 2 big dogs that are most likely to face Golovkin.  They are still ranked from least likely to most likely opponents:

Andre Ward - Ward is perhaps the only fighter on earth that the experts are picking to defeat GGG.  This is largely because of the dominance Ward showed years ago over bigger stronger fighters, many of whom have since gone on to success.  We have yet to see how much of that skill-set is left after more than 18 months off.  If Ward still has it, he may be the one left to test the young Kazakh bomber.  

SOG has been dropped by spoiler Darnell Boone, but it seems to take more than one shot to get rid of Ward, and he is rarely caught with more than one at a time, or even one.  If he uses his intelligence and speed, he may be the first to really frustrate Golovkin, and win a decision.  However, if Ward moves up to 175 before GGG is done at middleweight, we may never see it, so this match is not a sure thing.

Saul Canelo Alvarez - It is no guarantee that Canelo will even fully move up to 160.  His last fight was at 155lbs, so he may stay at Junior Middle.  It is also not a guarantee that Cotto will fight him, or that the Mexican superstar would win if he did.  It is also not certain that Alvarez will face GGG next year.  However, the odds are actually in favor of all 3 steps in that scenario, so we are most likely to see this match-up than any other.  Canelo has already shown the willingness to take on the tough assignments, even when there is a lot more to lose than gain.  

With Trout, Floyd, and Lara, however, his drawing power survived the dull fights.  With GGG, not only would he make millions, he would do so with an exciting fight.  His iron chin means he is less likely to be embarrassed, but even his connections cannot overcome the deficit in scoring that GGG will likely attain.  We probably will not see it until next year, and maybe not until late in the year, but we should see it, and GGG will win a decision that will snap his KO streak.

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GGG POSSIBILITIES, Part 1

GGG POSSIBILITIES, Part 1

We are looking at yet another division where the linear championship is cheapened by the 1 contender not getting a shot at the linear champ.  GGG has been number one for at least 2 years, and now Cotto has hinted that he will give up the WBC belt if they try to force the GGG fight.  This is likely because Cotto sees dollar signs with Canelo, as well as an opponent he actually has a chance of beating.  

This means we will probably not see GGG against any stars until 2016... but regarding of all the top fighters in an around him who have been mentioned as opponents, let's break down the odds of it happening, and the prognosis if it did.  They are ranked from least likely to most likely opponents, with the first round being the more pessimistic options:

Floyd Mayweather - Not only will Floyd never face GGG, he shouldn't have to.  Floyd could probably still make 140lbs, and GGG is a strong 160.  Sure they could make the bout at a 154 catch weight, but it is too risky a bout for Floyd.  Khan sells just as many tickets as GGG, and is an easier mark.  But if the fight ever did happen, I have no idea what would happen here... Floyd could be too fast or too smart, then get caught clean and KOd.  It's just too hard to say.

Daniel Jacobs, Peter Quillin, and Andy Lee - They are all in one grouping, because the result would be the same.  GGG by middle rounds knockout, maybe even quicker with Lee.  They also will never fight Golovkin.  Their management will never risk it.  All 3 will simply defend their belts, and/or move up without ever facing him.  Hell, they barely want to face each other.

Miguel Cotto - It is not out of the realm of possibility, but Cotto will avoid it for as long as he can.  If he beats both Geale and Canelo (not likely) he will probably still stall by taking on Argentine mandatory Heiland.  If GGG beats Heiland, however, it could speed things along, but don't be surprised if Cotto retires rather than face GGG.  If they do fight, however, GGG wins by a brutal KO inside of 7 rounds.  It is just a style nightmare for the Puerto Rican star, at this stage of his career.

David Lemieux - Like Lee, Quillin, and Jacobs, the Canadian power puncher will likely be steered away as all Haymon or GBP fighters are.  However, if young David beats N'Dam, he may be tempted to cash out for the big money, as he is a vulnerable champion at best.  If they ever fight, we may finally get a test of Golovkin's chin, but Lemieux's is already sub-par, and we know that.  GGG by early KO, after getting tagged once or twice.

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LOSE THE JUNIOR

LOSE THE JUNIOR

It seems like not very long ago that fathers were discouraged from being the primary voice in their son's corner.  I became an avid fight fan in the mid 1980s, and it seemed like every father-son team had to explain itself.  It may be ok for the beginning of a career, but was a set-up that had to be abandoned if a fighter was serious about his career. Ultimately the boxing landscape was said to be littered with the figurative corpses of boxing careers that were governed by parental emotion rather than sound business sense, or trainer expertise.

 It seems as if this attitude has slowly dissipated over years, to the point where we now have men like Danny Garcia, and former heavyweight Olympian Calvin Brock.  These are men who were not only trained by their fathers for their entire career, but their father actually had to learn the sport first!  It's one thing to be the child of a boxing man, who follows into the family business.  However, in these cases, and many others, the fathers learned the sport just so they could be the trainers of their sons.

 The trend has reversed so strongly that the breaking of that bond is now the move that is often frowned upon.  Robert Guerrero and Shane Mosley are just two of the fighters who claim to have been better when fighting under their fathers, as opposed to seasoned trainers.  However, no matter who trains a fighter, the father's presence is almost always there.  I have never been a fan of a man giving his son his name.  Let the poor kid have his own identity.  It's just another way of defining your son in a co-dependent fashion.
 
The late, great George Carlin said it with even more force.. "I have no respect for any man that allows people to call him 'junior'  I immediately think he's a chump and a loser.  Junior means second to, underneath, lesser-than..."  There are so many fighters who are 'juniors' and not only that, but they announce themselves as such in the ring.  If your father is not famous, and we have never heard of him, why are you publicly known as a 'junior"?  It doesn't make sense, and it stops many young fighters from having their own identity.  The message to the fans is that you are in this game for your father's approval, and it is clear.

Floyd Mayweather famously said "I ain't no Junior" in reference to his father, as he is the famous one, not Senior.  Roy Jones, who was announced for much of his career as Roy Jones Jr. said he knew from the age of 13 that his father would never allow for his son's own personal growth, due to his rampant alpha-male behavior.  He had to break with his father, if he would ever find his own way.  This knowledge and subsequent break was very mature of Jones, but did not stop him from naming his son after him, as well.  In those two cases the son had inherited the ego from his father, and was able to recognize it.  I just wish the Omar Figueroa's and Joseph Diaz's of the world would do the same.

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COTTO VS. GEALE: WEEKEND RECAP

COTTO VS. GEALE: WEEKEND RECAP

Miguel Cotto really took on an assignment last Saturday that could only confuse the boxing public.  If Geale had pulled off the upset, or even held Cotto close, we would have assumed (as I did) that Cotto was done, and the Martinez fight was a last hurrah.  However, the marketing machine of Cotto's "rebirth" can continue.  Cotto looked great, yes, but Geale looked very ordinary, as well.  The draining of weight, or mental uncertainty of having lost to GGG, or whatever caused it, he was not there.  For the second time in a row, he quit.  He seems to make an annual trip out of flying halfway around the world to work for 10 minutes, and then shake his head that he is done.  Lucrative... but not very professional.

Cotto is looking good with fighters who will let him, and scoring bigger wins than most are capable of against his level of opposition.  However, by his own admission, he is not a middleweight... Therefore he is likely to force every opponent to meet him at a catch-weight.  We also do not quite know how good he will look against a top level fighter in his prime, like Canelo.  Will his boxing skills endure when he faces an iron-chinned fighter?  How will his skin and chin hold up when he is hit by a puncher?  Will he fight GGG afterwards, or retire?  Will Canelo fight GGG if he wins?  True, Canelo has also been inactive and matched right to look sensational, but there remains more questions about Cotto.

There is also the aspect of expectations.  Because both have looked sensational against certain opponents, does not mean they will do so against each other.  I hope they do, but it is not a guarantee.  We need to step back and realize we are being marketed to.  I used to think the HBO commentators were on the fairer side, however, I no longer think this. There was a hard headbutt right before the left hook that dropped Geale.  No mention was made of it at all, even after clear replays indicated such.  Was the HBO team under gag orders not to question Cotto's brilliance?  We already lost ESPN2, and now it seems as if the 'rah rah' PBC/GBP method of 'yes-men' announcers is becoming the norm.  This is a sad phenomena at any level, but when it makes its way to HBO, it is even sadder.

I love how great Cotto looked, as it whets my appetite for a fight I was interested in already, but Cotto coming in under 154?  Outright saying he is not a middleweight?  Canelo only coming up to 155 for Kirkland?  It seems as if the winner is already packaging an "I'm too small for GGG" excuse to either avoid the Kazakh star altogether, or force him to an unnatural weight for the bout.  I am hoping for what we all want.  GBP and Haymon are already visibly steering their fighters away from GGG or even Cotto.  It's as if there are two middleweight divisions.  Lee, Lemieux, Quillin and Jacobs can be happily forgotten, however, if the top 3 get it on in the next 12 months.

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FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS: WHAT I WILL MISS MOST

FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS: WHAT I WILL MISS MOST

Today is not the first Friday on which there is no ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. As the years rolled on, from 1998 to now, we watched college football hack out three months. They also took weeks off during the hot season, as well. However, this is the first blank Friday after which an indefinite number of them will be coming. Al Haymon, who alternately becomes a savior and destructor of our wonderful sport has destroyed the FNF brand to make room for his 11 shows a year on ESPN. As with most things involving the elusive Haymon, there is a good side and bad side.

The good part of this, is that it makes for more accessible cards to the non-die hard fans, whom Haymon has always been more fond of than the regulars. Much like his network shows, he is bringing boxing back to a general audience. The bad part of this, is that Haymon rarely makes for competitive fights. He is a safety-first businessman, who looks to protect fighters with unbeaten records. He'll take risks with Khan, Broner, and Chavez Jr. because those men have losses. However, Thurman, Mayweather, Garcia, and Wilder are matched very carefully, with only the risks that are absolutely necessary.

This is because they have that illustrious 0. No matter how many fighters with losses become fan favorites and hall of famers, many promoters cannot get that unbeaten record out of their heads. It does not help that the biggest star in boxing has one now (something that has rarely happened in the past... maybe Tyson, Chavez, and DLH in his heyday being noteworthy exceptions). One man running boxing would not be good for the sport in any case. When it is a man with Haymon's protective nature, it is even worse.

Have you noticed that ESPN2's fight cards were routinely more competitive and exciting than most other networks? Only Shobox can compare. Golden Boy Live on FSN, Spike, Tru, Haymon's PBC, etc. are all designed to showcase unbeaten young fighters. There are rarely any upsets, or even any knockouts. What FNF offered us was competitive fights. I will also miss the candor of Tessitore and Atlas. If a card was terrible, or nonsense was ensuing, they would call it out. The networks did not have a muzzle on those guys. Now, with Haymon in charge, they will.

The Spike, Tru, and network cards don't call out the crap when it's happening. Half the time, the commentators are utility sports guys, who don't even know boxing. FNF was our show, and now it is gone... with no good replacement likely. I love network boxing coming back, but at what cost? I would rather see network boxing go away than have it fall permanently into the hands of Haymon. Hopefully we can do away with him, soon, as the result of the lawsuits... and we can simply thank him for starting the CBS and NBC participation... and ongoing, we can leave it to smaller promoters who actually take risks. I am not asking for much. Just a boxing show that gives the true fans who have been there all along what WE want for a change.

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JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

JUNE 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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BEST SCENARIO FOR ALMOST EVERYONE

BEST SCENARIO FOR ALMOST EVERYONE

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

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

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

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

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MIDDLEWEIGHT MESS

MIDDLEWEIGHT MESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MAYWEATHER - PACQUIAO RECAP

MAYWEATHER - PACQUIAO RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

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

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

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

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

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MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

MAY 2015 BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 1

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

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

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

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

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SUPERMAN'S KRYPTONITE?

SUPERMAN'S KRYPTONITE?

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

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

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

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

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CHIN GOT BETTER WITH WEIGHT

CHIN GOT BETTER WITH WEIGHT

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

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

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

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

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

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

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