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Articles of 2010

ATLAS DINNER TONIGHT: Atlas Fights For Charity, Doesn't Want Shane-Manny



ESPN analyst and sometimes trainer Teddy Atlas touched base with TSS on Tuesday, as he hustled about, just a scant two days away from the 14th annual Atlas Foundation Dinner.

The Dinner raises funds for the underprivileged, for those with no other place to turn after the regular charitable channels dry up. People call the Atlas Foundation begging, pleading, after the insurance company tells them no, that procedure your kid needs to stay alive is experimental…or they lack insurance, and the work to build a handicap accessible bathroom will cost $11,000..and coming up with $11 to feed mom, who lives off Social Security/Disability, and her two kids will in itself be a high hurdle.

Atlas was working the phones, calling up some of those folks whod shown up in prior years, but who hadnt yet told him theyd be attending. (Get more info if you want to give, or attend, here: But he was kind enough to answer some questions about the sport, and some of the recent headlines in the sweet science.

First things first…Atlas copped to his bum call, as he gave Margarito a good chance to spring the upset last Saturday in Dallas. Im not going to be a Monday morning revisionist, he said. I knew I was dead after one round. I knew he had to kill himself to make weight.

He had an inkling that this might be the case when he saw Margarito on 24/7, always with the workout clothes on, running the treadmill at 1 AM after getting to Texas from LA. I concurred…On Nov. 7, I wrote, Margarito, looking like he has not an ounce of fat to burn, weighs 154 pounds a few days he is to leave for Texas. Oh yes, the catchweight is in the contract for a reason, people. That last couple of pounds will be a b-tch. I didnt ever really latch on to the Tony-might-be-too-damn-big argument. I wrote on Nov. 12, Some will wonder if Manny’s too light, if he would not have been wiser to up the caloric intake to 8,000 or so calories a day, so he won’t give away so much weight to Margarito, who one figures will gain almost 15 pounds overnight. I say speed is his main edge, so maximize it, by being light on your feat.

Atlas figured Margarito could land the uppercut, but he didnt figure his strength would be so sapped as to render it lame. Yes, that weight advantage fight night was anything but.

I offer this comparison. You take a sponge, its bone dry, put water into it, it blows up. But it doesnt have the capacity to be a sponge anymore. Gaining all that weight, it told me he was dehydrated. He went beyond the limit, his body was compromised. He was not going to get the electrolytes, the potassium, get the fluids back. He was hurt before the fight.

Atlas also weighed in on the rumor mill having Oscar De La Hoya, inactive in the ring since he got pummeled by Pacquiao in Dec. 2008, coming back to fight Ricky Hatton, inactive since getting pummeled by Pacquiao in May.

What makes people tick is sometimes what destroys them, he said. Ego is part of the equation. Many fighters cant be satisfied by normal civilian life. I think a lot is ego gratification. And hes not picking Pacquiao. Hes looking at Hatton, who might be diminished, he figures he can get over him. And some of it could be greed. As much money as hes made, its hard to turn down $15 million, 10 million, whatever. Do you think Brett Favre would keep coming back if he wasnt making $16 million or whatever, think he would come back if he was only offered $1 million? Greed is a powerful, powerful monster. For the record, after this report came out, Oscar on Wednesday told Dan Rafael that it was baloney. Hmm. Was it a trial balloon, a leak to do some market research, and when public sentiment came back unenthused, the rumor was squashed?

Who will Manny fight next will probably be the most persistent theme in the fightgame in the next six or so weeks. Atlas would like to see Manny-Money, as would we all, and if we see it, hes still taking Mayweather. Mannys not going to put those fast hands on Floyd the way he has on other guys, Atlas said. Floyd matches him in size, is maybe a little bigger, and can match or maybe surpass him in skill. And in dimensions, fight inside, outside. And he matches Manny in one other area: confidence. Nobody is talking about that.

If that falls through, Atlas said hes a fan of junior welter titlist Timothy Bradley, as a person and fighter, and likes his ability to fight inside and outside. He also would love to see Pacman take a challenge from the Cuban, Yuriorkis Gamboa, the featherweight champ who has fought as high as 133 1/2, in 2007. Gamboa is probably too small, but as far as pure ability, pure speed….

Looking ahead to this Saturday, the Williams-Martinez sequel, Atlas likes Williams, for his youth, and in the belief that he has the capacity to improve a bit, more so than Martinez. Im going to take the taller, the longer guy, the southpaw, he said. He could see Williams cutting down to 147, for the money, to meet Manny, if he wins.

Atlas and me are on the same page regarding Shane Mosley–he has no desire to see Mosley, 2-2-1 in his last five, get a chance at Pacman. Nah, I dont want to see that. That ship has sailed. Im not saying its lights out completely for Mosley, but we saw that movie, against Mayweather, and it didnt end well. Atlas pondered if Mosley without PEDs* is as effective, and if he might need that extra edge to fight at the A grade level. And if Pacman didnt demand Olympic style testing, Atlas pondered…But that isnt a reason to make that fight, he said. Mosley is what, 40? I have no interest in seeing him anymore. Thanks for the memories, but hes not a guy Id go out of my way to watch.

SPEEDBAG Had a good time at the open workout to check out Zsolt Erdei Monday, at the Trinity Gym in NYC. I chatted with Erdeis promoter, Lou Dibella, and he said hed love to get Manny in with Martinez, if Martinez wins Saturday. But I dont want to jinx myself, look past Paul Williams, the promoter said. One thing that maybe hasnt been factored in…the inter promotional battling could really influence who we see Manny fight next more so than usual. Williams is with Al Haymon, and you all recall that the Arum-Haymon-Schaefer-Greenburg negotiations for the Manny-Manny fight exploded into a snarly catfight of claims, counterclaims, and offers of lie detector tests. We might not be so likely to see an Arum-Haymon pairup in the near future…

–Had a nice chat with website publisher/advisor to fighters Greg Leon. The Bronx-based Leon, age 32, has made a move in the last couple of years away from the keyboard tapping world, and into the advisor/management sphere. He handles Erdei, as well as Allan Green, and was in the news on Nov. 8th, when he put out this release. Allan Greens advisor (and Boxingtalk principal) Greg Leon has formally notified the Nevada State Athletic Commission of Greens intent to appeal referee Robert Byrds decision to call a halt to his bout this past Saturday evening against Glen Johnson in Las Vegas. With Green ahead on two of the official scorecards, Johnson was awarded a knockout victory at the close of the eighth round. Green went to the canvas after receiving what he feels were rabbit punches. Although Green beat the count, Byrd stopped the bout and Johnson was declared the winner. To handle this appeal, Leon has hired attorney Josh Dubin, who successfully had Timothy Bradleys originally declared knockout victory over Nate Campbell changed to a no contest in California. The appeal will be filed by the end of the week, and the rules of the NSAC entitle Mr. Green to a decision within sixty days of the filing of his petition. A review of the fight makes it clear that the blow which put Mr. Green to the canvass, and led to Mr. Byrd stopping the fight, was a rabbit blow. No question about it. There is absolutely no point in having rules in the first place if they are not going to be enforced. Now it is just a matter of asking the Nevada State Athletic Commission to apply its own rules. That is all we ask for. I have full confidence that the Commission will do that, said Dubin. At the time of the stoppage, Green was ahead on two of the three scorecards. Said Leon, the fight was close, no doubt about that. But my guy was winning and I just want him be able to win or lose within the rules. He was hit in the back of the head at the end of the third round and then again in the eighth. He should have been given time to recover. I just hope the Nevada Commission hears our case fairly. If they do that, I have no doubt they will overturn the referees decision.

I checked, and re-checked, the replay of the Johnson knockdown. I see Green leaning waaaay over to his right side, offering the side of his head to be hit. I see Johnson landing a hard right, which to me looks like it lands on the side of the head, towards the back. And the followup grazes Green, and looks to graze his chin area. I dont see the shots as being anything close to conclusive fouls. That said, I must admire Leon for going out on the limb for Green, a guy, who, it must be said, hasnt truly stepped up and delivered when given the chance. Its worth the roll of the dice for Leon and Green, considering that unless something changes in Greens head, he is not likely to again be given the opportunity for a big TV fight. Now, a battle after a couple decent wins, against a Euro titlist looking for a soft touch, thats another story..

More on Leon. He and Bernard Hopkins go way back. Hes let Bernard babble on B-Talk for years. So Leon told me Hopkins called him while he was at dinner with Erdei, and they chatted, and things simmered, and Hopkins basically said hes like to battle Erdei if and when he gets past Jean Pascal on Dec. 18. Why, Greg? Hopkins wants this guy, he said. I think he wants to beat a white guys, cause Calzaghe is white. Thats my opinion. You will recall Hopkins drew justified fire when in March 2008, before his fight with Calzaghe, he said, I aint ever gonna lose to a white boy. For what its worth…

–Lastly, points to Leon for honesty. I asked him if Erdei, with a 31-0 mark, but with just 17 KOs, is boring to watch. Hes not Arturo Gatti, he said. But hes not Smoke Gainer.

*Mosley last week quietly withdrew his $12 defamation suit against Victor Conte, the guy who made and sold the PEDs that Mosley denied taking, but admitted to taking under deposition. In 2008, Mosley sued Conte after the boxer said publicly that he unknowingly took steroids, given to him by Conte. Conte in April released video of Mosley being deposed in October 2009, in which he admitted to taking PEDs, and knowing what they were. Mosleys lawyer, Judd Burstein, went ballistic when Conte put out the video. He said the video was taken out of context, and promised that his dog could win the case against Conte. Woof.

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ




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



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




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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