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Articles of 2010

Pavlik, Rigo, Jones To Head Up Manny-'Rito Undercard In Texas

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THE DUKES OF DALLAS!

KELLY PAVLIK RETURNS;

GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX FIGHTS FOR WORLD TITLE;

AND MIKE JONES DEFENDS HIS BELTS ON THE

ALL-ACTION PAY-PER-VIEW TELEVISED UNDERCARD

FOR THE PACQUIAO VS. MARGARITO

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT!

ARLINGTON, TX (September 27, 2010)
— Former World Middleweight Champion KELLY “The Ghost PAVLIK will be embarking on his professional comeback, headlining the televised undercard for the 12-round World Boxing Council (WBC) super welterweight championship between combined 10-time world champions CONGRESSMAN MANNY PACQUIAO and the “Tijuana Tornado ANTONIO MARGARITO. Pavlik will be taking on Texan BRIAN VERA in a 10-round bout. The pay-per-view undercard will also feature boxing’s wunderkind GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX, challenging for a world title in only his seventh professional bout, in a 12-round rumble with former world champion RICARDO CORDOBA for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) interim super bantamweight championship. The exciting telecast will open with undefeated top-rated welterweight contender MIKE JONES defending his North America Boxing Association (NABA) and North America Boxing Organization (NABO) welterweight belts against Top-10 contender JESUS SOTO-KARASS.

These six gladiators boast a combined record of 142-13-5 (105 KOs) – a winning percentage exceeding 89% and a victory by knockout ratio of 74%.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Cowboys Stadium, MP Promotions and Tecate, PACQUIAO vs. MARGARITO – boxing’s No. 1 event of the year — will take place Saturday, November 13 in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. The $1.2 billion stadium is the largest, most technologically advanced entertainment venue in the world. Pacquiao vs. Margarito will be produced and distributed live on HBO Pay-Per-View®, beginning at

9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.

Remaining Tickets to Pacquiao vs. Margarito are priced at $700, $500, $300, $200, $100, and $50, and can be purchased in-person at the Cowboys Stadium ticket office in Arlington, or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com.

In addition to the main event, which we believe is destined to be the Fight of the Year for 2010, we are presenting a tremendous undercard featuring some of the top boxers today, said Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank. From top to bottom this will be a sensational card and will keep the viewing audience entertained throughout the evening.

The principal undercard match features former World Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik, now on the comeback trail, against a dangerous middleweight in Brian Vera of Austin, Texas. Pavlik is on a quest for redemption after losing his world title to Sergio Martinez. Vera holds important wins over Andy Lee of Ireland and Sebastien Demers of Canada, continued Arum.

“This is life and death for me as a fighter. I must win, said Pavlik. “The future is now.

“No disrespect intended to the card because it’s a terrific show to be associated with, but fighting on an undercard is not where we want to be, said Pavlik’s trainer Jack Loew. “Kelly has been a headliner since he won the middleweight title three years ago. We dug this hole and now it’s time to climb out of it and Brian Vera is not going to prevent Kelly from becoming a two-time world champion. Youngstown always fights back when it gets knocked down.

Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs), of Youngstown, OH, one of boxing’s most popular fighters and inspirational stories, returns to the ring for the first time since relinquishing his world middleweight crown via a 12-round decision to two-division world champion Sergio Martinez last April, ending his two-year reign. It was September 29, 2007 when Pavlik created a media and public frenzy by knocking out undefeated defending champion Jermain Taylor in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall to become the WBC and World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight champion in a bout selected as the “Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Pavlik defeated Taylor handily in their rematch in February 2008 to solidify his claim as one of boxing’s top pound for pound fighters. Pavlik successfully defended the title three times, all by knockout, with two of those victories coming against No. 1 contenders and mandatory challengers.

“Pavlik’s Cinderella story is going to end for good with me at Cowboys Stadium, said Vera. “Rust never sleeps – even for a so called man of steel.

Vera (17-5, 11 KOs), of Austin, TX, a former participant of The Contender reality series, has earned a reputation for being one of boxing’s most “upsetting fighters — most notably two upset victories. In 2008, he knocked the blarney out of previously undefeated and world-rated middleweight contender and Emanuel Steward protégé Andy Lee, blasting the 2004 Irish Olympian out in the seventh round. He followed that with a third-round knockout of top-10 super middleweight contender Sebastien Demers in June in front of Demers’ hometown crowd in Montréal. Demers entered that fight having won 11 of his previous 12 bouts dating back to 2007.

Guillermo Rigondeaux, perhaps the greatest amateur fighter of this era with two Olympic gold medals, has embarked on a professional career, said Arum. “He is taking on Ricardo Cordoba of Panamá. Rigondeaux, whose professional record is just 6-0, has been described by his trainer Ronnie Shields of Houston as the best fighter he has ever trained.Cordoba is a top featherweight who has defeated top fighters including world champion Celestino Caballero.

Rigondeaux (6-0, 5 KOs), of Miami, Fla, who boasted an amateur record of 400-12, captured Olympic gold as a member of the Cuban team in 2000 and 2004 as a bantamweight. After defecting to the U.S. in February 2009, he made his pro debut three months later, knocking out Juan Noreiga in the third round. He captured the vacant NABA super bantamweight title the following September in just his third professional bout, knocking out Giovanni Andrade in the third round, ending Andrade’s five-bout winning streak, with four of those victories coming by knockout. He knocked out Adolfo Landeros in February and Jose Beranza in August in the first and sixth rounds respectively and en route to his current career-high world rating of No. 3 by the WBA.

Cordoba (37-2-2, 23 KOs), of Santa Marta, Panamá, the last man to tag a loss on World Super Bantamweight Champion Celestino Caballero, is no stranger to the rarified heights of world championship boxing. Career highlights include two majority Draws against defending WBA bantamweight champion Wladimir Sidorenko in 2006 and 2007, both in Germany. After the second Draw against Sidorenko, Cordoba moved up to the super bantamweight division, where he captured the WBA interim title in 2008 via a dominant 12-round unanimous decision over two-division world champion Luis Perez. He was unsuccessful in challenging Bernard Dunne for the undisputed WBA super bantamweight title, losing their 2009 battle in a fight that saw both combatants go down five times total. It’s the only loss Cordoba has suffered in the past five years. He enters this fight as the WBA’s top-rated super bantamweight contender, riding a three-bout winning streak, with two of those victories coming by knockout.

Finally, the undefeated Philadelphia phenom Mike Jones faces his toughest test in Jesus Soto-Karass. Jones is viewed by many as the best fighter out of Philadelphia in years and a future world welterweight champion. Soto-Karass is an all-action fighter who always gives it his all, said Arum.

“This is without a doubt the toughest professional test Mike has ever faced, said Russell Peltz, Jones promoter. “Soto-Karass is the right guy at the right time and it’s fortunate that it’s taking place on boxing’s biggest stage. We have been chasing this fight for one year. If Mike is going to be a world champion he’s going to have beat Soto-Karass on November 13 to make his case.

Jones (22-0, 18 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA., who has been attracting rabid fans to his fights in the friendly confines of Atlantic City and Philadelphia, will take on his biggest challenge on the biggest stage he has ever fought. Considered one of the hottest prospects in boxing, six of his last eight victories have come by knockout. He won the vacant NABA title in 2008 knocking out Brazilian strongman Juliano Ramos in the sixth round. Jones successfully defended his title three times in 2009 and 2010, including Henry Buseles in February, ending his five-year winning streak. He added the vacant NABO welterweight title belt to his waist in April, knocking out Hector Muñoz in the third round. In his last fight, Jones successfully defended both titles with a fifth-round knockout of Irving Garcia, in July, catapulting him to the top of the WBA welterweight ratings.

Soto-Karass (24-4-3, 16 KOs), of Los Mochis, México, boasts an impressive 13-1-2 (one No Contest) record, over his past 17 fights, dating back to 2005. The lone blemish was a sixth-round technical loss to Alfonso Gomez last year. Highlights of that period include knockout victories of former world champion Vince Phillips and undefeated contender Michael Rosales in WBC Continental Americas welterweight title fights in 2006 and contender David Estrada for the vacant North America Boxing Federation (NABF) welterweight championship in 2008. He’s currently world-rated No. 8 by the WBC.

ThePacquiao vs. Margaritopay-per-view telecast, has a suggested retail price of $54.95, will be produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View® and will be available to more than71 million pay-per-view homes.The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD.HBO Pay-Per-View®, a division of Home Box Office, Inc.,is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For Pacquiao vs. Margaritofight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com or www.toprank.com .

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

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30

Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard

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UFC_Edgar_and_Maynard_Dec._2010
Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope

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PacquiaoClottey_Booth_6

As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

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