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Articles of 2010

SPECIAL TO TSS: JJ's Q n A With Allan Green

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When I called the ’Ghost Dog,’ he was getting ready to take the kids to school. Having two of my own, I could smell the morning ritual in the background and in his tone of parental authority mixed with resignation. Allan Green is a curious player in boxing’s super middleweight division – a weight class that is at once heaven and hell, and even dreadful purgatory, if a fighter isn’t lucky. It wouldn't surprise the boxing community if Green made it into the Super 6 tournament on a fluke and proceeded to run the table, nor would it shock his critics if he lost his upcoming bout with the wild but hard-hitting Aussie, Sakio Bika, in a fight that decides whether Green gets an April shot at fast-rising Andre Ward. The Tulsa native has knockout power in both hands, a devastating left hook that makes for a quick night’s work, and he’s a ring-smart pugilist too: notice the display of patience behind the force when Green took out Carlos De Leon in April 2009. Will 2010 be Allan Green’s breakout year?

Q) Where are you right now and what are you up to? Are you getting ready for Bika?

Actually I just signed my contract. I don’t know what’s going on over on their end. I’ve been training for awhile now because I wasn’t sure if the fight was happening or not. But I just started training – just in case – about five and a half weeks ago. I’m going to camp in Florida in a few days.

Q) How are you feeling right now?

I feel great. I feel good, I feel strong. Like I said, I’ve been training. I’ve been running. I mean, I wasn’t sure if the fight was happening or what.

Q) First tell me where you are with the Super 6. Do people want a fight-off between you and Bika to decide who gets in?

I don’t know if the people wanted that but I guess that’s what the people are getting. I really don’t understand why I have to fight Bika to get in to the tournament in the first place. But it is what it is.

Q) You don’t sound happy about that.

No, because it was said that if anything happened, I would automatically go in to the tournament and all of a sudden I hear I have to fight this guy Sakio Bika just to make it to the tournament. Jermaine got knocked out and he got to fight in the tournament. So I don’t get that. It didn’t add up to me.

Q) If you have to fight Bika how do you feel you match up to him?

He doesn’t really concern me. He’s a strong guy. He’s a very strong guy – he doesn’t have any boxing skills at all – but he’s very strong and very wild. A guy like that can give you a lot of problems. I mean, none of the guys in the tournament ever fought him.

Q) What do you think of Jermain’s decision to take himself out of the Super 6?

I don’t think he should have been in the tournament in the first place. He got knocked out the fight before the tournament. I won my fight. He got knocked out. I don’t see how you reward a guy for losing a fight by putting him in the Super 6. He’s no longer super. He got knocked out.

Q) Do you think Jermain should come back and fight after taking a rest or do you think his career is over?

Personally, I don’t think Jermain should fight again. I wouldn’t like to see the guy get hurt or anything. He’s been knocked out three times now. He got knocked out three times in a row – two brutal knock outs in a row. He should probably call it a day.

Q) If you enter you have to face Ward straight away. What are your thoughts about facing him after what we saw Ward do to Kessler?

I never really thought much about Kessler. Ward is a good fighter. He’s tricky. He’s foxy, but he poses no threat to me at all. He’s a good fighter, but I don’t worry about him at all. I know I can take
him.

Q) After watching stage 1 of the tournament who do you think would be your biggest threat?

It’s hard to say. A lot of people sleep on Carl Froch but you know he fights better – regardless of what people say about Kessler and Abraham – I think Froch fights better than Kessler and Abraham. I think he’s very determined. But I don’t know. I don’t know who poses the biggest threat, I really can’t say.

Q) Dirrell/Froch: What did you think?

I thought Froch won by two points. I don’t understand why people made a big deal about it. Dirrell’s style looks good. It’s visually impacting with a lot of his moves and the speed, but Froch, as far as the actually fight…he won the fight.

Q) People were impressed by how Abraham took out Taylor. Given what you said earlier I imagine you don’t think much of that victory.

Carl Froch just knocked him out so why would I be impressed with that? I mean, anyone that would have fought Jermain Taylor, probably except for Ward because Ward’s not really a puncher, they probably would have knocked him out.

Q) Has your toughest fight so far been with Miranda?

Given my condition, I would say yes.

Q) What did you learn from that fight?  I mean, you had to have surgery to remove 80% of your colon…

Yeah, 85%. I just learned never to take a fight in that kind of condition.

Q) Did you know something was wrong with you before or after the Miranda fight?

I knew something was wrong. I did know. But I knew I had to have surgery afterwards.

Q) So you weren’t 100% for the Miranda fight?

Oh my God I was about 30 or 40% I wasn’t 100% at all.

Q) What did the doctor say you had?

I had a thing called colonic inertia. Mine was actually worse than that. My colon was basically paralyzed. It was dead. I couldn’t absorb water. I couldn’t absorb anything. I was just messed up.

Q) How has recovery been? Have the doctors given you an all clear?

Yeah, I feel great.

Q) Who is your favorite fighter of all time?

Ray Robinson

Q) How come?

Because he’s the greatest fighter ever…the closest thing to perfect you’ll ever see in a fighter. He didn’t have any weaknesses. He could fight. He could box. He knew how to calculate the right kind of fight. He’s just a beautiful fighter. And he had heart.

Q) Who has hit you the hardest in a boxing match to date?

People will trip out when I tell them this. Jerson Ravelo.

Q) Was your fight against Codrington your most impressive stoppage?

Actually my favorite fight…I liked it when I fought Anthony Bonsante.

Q) If you could fight anyone not fighting today, who would you most want
to prove yourself against?

It would have to be Marvin Hagler or Ray Leonard.

Q) What are your thoughts on business side of boxing?

I hate it.

Q) Worse than ever? Same as before?

Worse than ever. I hate it.

Q) What do you make of the Floyd and Manny fiasco…was Floyd scared?

Floyd should just be a man. I mean, I’ve never put Floyd in a class as being one of the greats anyway. I think he’s a great fighter, but there are a lot of fights he should have fought. He’s never fought a fight where a guy has had a chance to beat him. I don’t like to call another man scared, but I think he’s very worried about Manny Pacquiao.

Q) Do you think there’s something behind Manny and the HGH controversy?

No, and even if there was, how would he know about it? What would all of a sudden make you say I’m not fighting him? That means there’s something that you saw that intimidates you. If that’s the case, people could have said that about Duran when he was in his prime. They didn’t.

Q) During the 2002 Golden Gloves you beat Mike Tyson's two decade old 8 second knockout record. Who did you KO?

Tommy Crupe. He was from Michigan.

Q) Where did the name ‘Ghost Dog’ come from?

My brother Pepe gave me that name. When you’re in the ring and you say you ‘dog somebody,’ you jump on them and you dog them. Now getting ‘Ghost’ would have been about the moment he tried to retaliate. I got out the way and was out of sight real quick. That’s the ‘ghost dog’ and I do that a lot, especially in the gym, so he gave me that nickname.

Q) People also call you ‘Sweetness…’

Sugar Ray Leonard. I used to be signed with him, and he gave me that nickname after one of my fights.

Q) Chad Dawson. You called him out in the past…

Here’s the thing. I really have nothing against Chad. He’s a good fighter. I just think the first name that was brought up when they talked about going to super middleweight was my name. That’s what Gary Shaw did, and so I responded in kind. I obliged. I said, hell yeah, I’ll fight him. I wanna fight him. It wasn’t necessarily a call out. But if your promoter is going on record and saying that I’m one of the first names that you are going to fight at super middleweight, then I came out and I said, hell yeah, let’s do it. But I guess they had a change of heart. I guess he’s not going to come down to super middleweight.

Q) People call you a classic fighter. What does that mean to you?

I guess I remind them of the old fighters. I mean, that’s the biggest compliment you can give a fighter. That’s great. That’s a great compliment.

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

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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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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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