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Andre Ward Is Pound for Pound No. 1

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WardDawson TJHogan3Here is Ward negating the Dawson jab, just one of the brilliant strategies and tactics and tricks he used in his dominant win Saturday. (Hogan)

It's been a long time coming. Sixteen years to be exact, but it looks like we're going to have to wait awhile longer. The last time it happened, he was just 12 years-old. It's never come close to happening since. In a sport where styles are paramount, Andre Ward's uncanny ability to adapt to any given situation showed yet again why he has to be considered the world's most unbeatable fighter at the moment, and why the last time he lost, he didn't even shave.

Chad Dawson –an athletic, fast, six-foot two inch southpaw– was no slouch. But on Saturday night in Las vegas, he was no match.

The opening two rounds saw little much happen. One could make the case Dawson took them both. However, everything changed for good in the third. Ward landed a straight right, left hook combination that sent the light heavyweight champion down to the canvas. Dawson rose to beat the count, his confidence didn't. He never recovered.

Twice more Dawson tasted the canvas, the third and final time in the tenth. That was enough for Dawson, “No mas” he told referee Steve Smoger. A systematic beating drew them out, not embarrassment. But Chad Dawson need not feel ashamed or embarrassed. He lost to a special fighter who had just painted his masterpiece. Still the light-heavyweight champion of the world, Dawson would likely be a betting favourite against every other light-heavyweight in the world. We mustn't forget neither, that it was HE who took the bigger risk here by choosing to fight in his opponent's home town as well as at his opponent's desired and optimum weight.

Let's be honest though. Would it have really made that much difference had this fight took place in any other domain? Chad Dawson came across a fighter Saturday night who not only has the potential to be great, but an all-time great.

The best light-heavyweight in the world was soundly beaten by the best super-middleweight in the world. I don't think seven pounds north or south for either fighter would have changed the outcome that much. Styles make fights, and Ward's capacity to tailor his, in order to neutralize his opponent's, was the real reason why Chad Dawson was deconstructed on Saturday night. Ward was clearly the better man when it came to strategy. Every battle throughout history will have had a plan of attack laid out prior to it taking place. Boxing is no different. Both Ward and Dawson had, what they believed to be, the blueprint on how to solve each other's styles. Here's the difference. Ward carried his blueprint to the ring so that he could make adjustments as the battle was unfolding. Just when an opponent seems comfortable with what's going on,Ward transforms and does something different. Most of the time, it's just a subtle change, but it's enough to disrupt what his opponent is doing. Andre Ward is a kaleidoscope. Trying to prepare for his multi-dimensional approach to boxing is nigh on impossible for his opponents.

Here is what I thought Andre Ward did really well Saturday night.

#1. Unorthodox movement:

When an orthodox fighter faces a southpaw, he's usually looking to get his lead foot outside of the southpaw's lead foot, by moving to his left and away from the southpaw's power left. Dawson, a converted southpaw, carries his power in his right hand, his dominant hand. This lead to Ward's unconventional movement for an orthodox fighter against a southpaw. By stepping to his right, and inside of Dawson's right hand, Ward had nullified Dawson's dominant hand threat. For Dawson to have any chance of winning the fight, he had to get his jab working. It was no coincidence that he barely threw it. Ward's intelligent footwork and ring smarts enabled him to get on the inside of Dawson's right hand. If you look at the knockdown in the fourth round, you'll see Ward in what is generally a bad position against the southpaw. But because Ward knew that Dawson is right handed, and doesn't really throw the straight left as say, Manny Pacquiao does, he could afford to move onto Dawson's left shoulder because he knew that there wasn't any real danger there. This is what resulted in Ward being a marksman from strange angles with the left hook all night long.

#2. Eliminating the jab.

Continuing on from point #1, by moving to his right, and diagonally away from Dawson, Ward had forced Dawson into becoming the aggressor, something that the British announcers failed to pick up on. They also failed to see what had stymied Dawson's jab. If you have a chance to look at the fight again, you'll see that in the first two rounds, many minutes went by with Ward seemingly pawing with the jab. This was an illusion. What Ward was really doing was taking away the southpaw jab of Dawson. With both fighter's lead hands lined up with one another, Ward was able to perform a kind of parry, preventing the jab from even being thrown. Dawson couldn't seem to figure out why Ward was never in position to be hit with the southpaw jab. Ward's unconventional movement, along with his lead hand out in front and in line with Dawson's lead hand, was the answer.

#3. From the outside.

For me, this was the key to Ward's success Saturday night. If any of you read my pre-fight breakdown, you'll notice that I mentioned the Chad Dawson-Jean Pascal fight. What Pascal was able to expose in Dawson was a flaw in the way he defends himself. If a fighter in right in front of Dawson, throwing conventional punches, then Dawson sees everything and his defense becomes almost impenetrable. If a fighter is out of range before coming in with unorthodox power leads like straight rights and left hooks, then Dawson becomes touchable, as I feel he's unable to defend whilst being the attacker. Dawson is similar to Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, in that he defends with his feet planted, using upper body movement. Dawson will dip and bend at the waist in order to avoid blows. It's not often you see him taking a step back. This is what really hurt him Saturday night. Look at the shots that Mosley hurt Mayweather with, that Pacquiao scored the first knockdown of Cotto with, that Roy Jones peppered James Toney with, what Jean Pascal occupied Chad Dawson with and what Andre Ward knocked down Dawson in the third round with. They all look the same –power shots thrown low then high, forcing the opponent into adjusting their guard. Ward's right leads and left hooks, thrown in alternating patterns, downstairs and up, completely negated Dawson's defense. What was worse for Dawson though, was by being the aggressor and then having to defend, he found himself walking onto Ward's shots. Chad Dawson, a counter puncher, had no answer for Andre Ward's attacks on Saturday as he was advancing.

Dawson struggles to blend defense and attack if he's made to be the aggressor. This was the reason Ward always appeared to get off first, which in turn, lead to Dawson being on the defensive all night long. Dawson's dreadful punchstat numbers reflect this perfectly.

#4. On the inside.

Ward's in-fighting skills are well documented. We know he's very strong and very physical, but he's also extremely skilled at this range. If you look at the occasions when the fight took place on the inside, you'll see exactly what I mean. Notice how Ward was always able to lock an arm up, while having his left hand free. Ward's hooks and uppercuts with the left hand last really took a lot out of Dawson. Also, look how Ward was always conscious of a Dawson punch getting through in close. Ward kept his glove held high and tight to his head as he was throwing away with his free hand. Notice how you never see Ward bombing away wildly with both hands on the inside. Ward always remains defensively responsible at close quarters. Also, look at Ward's uppercuts and hooks in close. His ability to throw them so short and with so little back lift really is of the highest order.

#5. The feint.

Ward's ability to feint his opponent out of position or into a defensive position, is one of the ways in which he always appears to be one step ahead of his opponent. Dawson was constantly being off set by Ward's and head and shoulder feints. I was reminded of Roberto Duran's feinting masterclass against Carlos Palomino, in that both Palomino and Dawson had no idea what was coming next.By mastering the art of feinting, a fighter doesn't have to search for too long to find openings. Again, it's one of the reasons Ward is so accurate with his punches. He knows exactly where his shots are going to be placed because he's aware of how different fighters react to different feints. Dawson, a defensive Philly shell style counter-puncher, was predictable on defense.

I don't want to take anything away from Andre Ward and neither should anyone else. Yes, Dawson's weight loss may have been a factor, but as was mentioned here earlier, Ward's versatility was what really dominated the fight. As was the case in the Carl Froch fight, we saw just about every single boxing nuance one can think of –out-fighting, in-fighting, combination punching, body punching, defense, — performed at an extremely high level from Ward. How many fighters can you think of that are able to do so many things as well as Ward can? With each passing fight, it's becoming increasingly difficult to argue against Andre Ward being the best fighter, pound for pound in the world. I for one am sick of finding reasons to say that he isn't.

So what's next for both fighters?

Chad Dawson, now 32-2 {17} will surely travel back up to light-heavyweight where decent challenges await. Personally, I think Mikkel Kessler would make for a compelling fight. As for Andre Ward, now 26-0 {14} a rematch with Dawson at light-heavyweight to me seems pointless. No matter how you slice it, Ward was simply too physical, too smart and too good for Chad Dawson. My own feelings are that Ward will continue at 168 pounds for the time being. Sergio Martinez has already voiced that middleweight is as high as he'll go, while Chavez Jr will be lucky if he's on the receiving end of anything other than a comprehensive beating by the same man next weekend. Gennady Golovkin would probably jump at the chance to face Ward, but realistically, he's a lot smaller than Ward, who is actually one of the bigger men at 168 pounds. I can't see anyone below 168 pounds being good enough to threaten Ward's undefeated streak, can you? Andre Dirrell is a fighter who may ask some questions, with his athleticism and speed, but I don't see how he will be able to hang with Ward on the inside. Ward's strength would be far too much for Dirrell by my estimation.

Who knows what the future may hold? Andre Ward has had his opponents laid out for him for quite some time now, what with the Super Six tournament and Dawson's public challenge, so it will be interesting to see just what his next intentions are. One thing's for certain. Whoever it is, they will be faced with the unenviable task of trying to come up with a gameplan for a fighter whose strategical capabilities are limitless. Thinking back, I can't think of another fighter who has managed to win with the same level of dominance as Ward, other than Roy Jones when he was on top back in the nineties. And let's face it, Ward is currently doing it against sterner opposition too. While we're on the subject of Jones, who eventually went on to claim a portion of the heavyweight title after dominating at 168 pounds, I'll leave you with this:

With his ring smarts, quickness and ability to get inside and know what to do there, Andre Ward would have produced a better effort against Vitali Klitschko than what Manuel Charr managed on Saturday. And that readers, is a fact. The Klitschkos won't be around for too much longer….maybe down the road a crack at a smaller heavyweight champion is plausible?

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`Big Baby’ Proves Again That Heavyweights Need Not Have Ripped Physiques

Bernard Fernandez

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If we were to rate heavyweight champions on the basis of six-pack abs and overall confirmation, it’s a pretty safe bet that the magnificently ripped physiques of Evander Holyfield and Ken Norton would place them at or pretty close to the top of the list of pugilism’s most impressive big-man bodies. Also drawing consideration for a high slot would be Mike “Hercules” Weaver, who briefly held an alphabet title, but, his massive muscles notwithstanding, Weaver is hardly anyone’s idea of a truly great heavyweight.

The old saying – “looks like Tarzan, fights like Jane” – doesn’t come close to applying to Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champ who defends those titles against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) on June 1 in Madison Square Garden. Although the 6-foot-6 Joshua has fought as low as 229 pounds and as high as 254, at those weights and everything in-between he looks the part of a scary-good Tarzan who can and almost always pulverizes the guy selected to serve as his designated victim.

Which brings us to the 6-foot-4 “Big Baby” Miller, the well-fed Brooklyn, N.Y., native who has shown he can scrap a lot more like Tarzan than Jane, but at first glance is a closer physical approximation to Norm Peterson, the chubby guy on the end bar stool in Cheers so memorably played by George Wendt, winner of six Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Although Miller has averaged a semi-reasonable 265.7 pounds per ring appearance over the course of his professional boxing career, with a low of 242, he has come in at 300-plus for each of his last three bouts and it seems a safe bet he’ll officially come in anywhere from 40 to 70 pounds heavier than Joshua when they square off three-plus months hence.

All of which raises a question of how much is too much when it comes to a corpulent heavyweight’s scale reading? Talent comes in all shapes and sizes, and there are reasons why seemingly fat fighters are, well, seemingly fat fighters. It could be genetics (it’s so convenient to blame mom or dad when you have to shop for pants with a larger waist size), a slow metabolism or simply a fondness for unhealthy fast food, second and third helpings at the dinner table and an insatiable sweet tooth.

George Foreman’s body looked a lot like Joshua’s does now in the earlier phase of his Hall of Fame career. No, the glowering Foreman that laid waste to Joe Frazier and Ken Norton didn’t sport the six-pack abs of a male underwear model, but he had a thick – not overly thick – frame and could deliver battering-ram punches with either fist. It wasn’t until he came off his 10-year retirement from boxing that Big George, now a smiling, playful jokester at press conferences, poked fun at his enlarged self, the one that came in at a career-high 267 pounds after paring down from 300-plus for his first comeback fight, against Steve Zouski. Foreman cracked wise about being on a “seafood” diet, telling media types that what he meant was he ate all the food he saw.

Other than Foreman, the best of the fight game’s (too-)big men is Riddick Bowe, another Hall of Famer whose appetite for high-calorie fare was matched only by his top-tier skill set. The aptly nicknamed “Big Daddy” was terrific for a time and might have remained so for even longer had he been more diligent in heeding the dietary and training dictums of his strength-and-conditioning coach, Mackie Shilstone, and legendary trainer Eddie Futch, both of whom became understandably frustrated when Bowe would allow himself to blow up 40 to 50 pounds above his optimal fighting weight between bouts.

Other accomplished big guys who were able to overcome the burden of too many excess pounds are future first-ballot Hall of Famer James Toney, who fought as low as 157 pounds and won widely recognized world championships at middleweight and super middleweight before gorging himself up to the heavyweight ranks where he defeated, among others, Holyfield, Fres Oquendo and Dominick Guinn; “Two-Ton” Tony Galento, a veritable fireplug  of a man who shockingly knocked down seemingly invincible heavyweight champ Joe Louis before falling himself, and Buster Mathis Sr., the dancing bear whose jiggly love handles didn’t prevent him from going the distance with Muhammad Ali and Jerry Quarry.

When it comes to almost unfathomable heft, however, special mention must be made to Eric “Butterbean” Esch, the erstwhile “King of the Four-Rounders,” who despite being only 5-11½ logged 90 of his 91 pro bouts (77-10-4, 58 KOs) at 300 or more pounds, including three at 400-plus pounds. All right, so The Bean’s list of opponents for the most part was hardly a Murderer’s Row. It should be noted, however, that he defeated Louis Monaco, who defeated Kevin McBride, who defeated Mike Tyson, who defeated Larry Holmes, who defeated Muhammad Ali.

Honorable mention, if you want to call it that, is reserved for Gabe “Big G” Brown, who managed to compile a winning record (18-17-4, 12 KOs) despite weighing 300 or more pounds for 33 bouts, with a high of 367; Dustin “Worm” Nichols (5-12, 5 KOs), who came in at 400 or more four times and the rest at 300-plus, with all 12 of his losses by knockout; Alonzo “Big Zo” Butler (31-3-2, 24 KOs), who is still active and might yet evolve, considering his three most recent bouts were at 300-plus pounds, into an updated version of “Big Baby” Miller.

If you want to tick off “Bronco” Billy Wright (43-4, 34 KOs), he of the seven bouts at 300 or more pounds, try comparing him to Butterbean. “If you think I’m a bum or a joke, try saying that to my face. I guarantee you won’t be laughing for long,” the now-retired Bronco Billy, 54, said in 2015, when he was the WBC’s 20th-ranked heavyweight. “I can knock out anybody on the planet, with either hand. I can knock them cold.”

In retrospect, a matchup of Butterbean and Bronco Billy now rates among my all-time matchups that never happened, but should have. Whoever went down would cause a vibration that I’d like to think could have been registered on the Richter Scale.

Boxing, of course, is not the only sport where gifted but gluttonous athletes overcame, if briefly, their inclination to succumb to the more vexing temptations of food. Remember the time that third baseman Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval’s belt buckle snapped and his pants nearly slid down when he took a particularly vicious swing that missed? Basketball had the man with two nicknames, former University of Kentucky center Melvin Turpin, who alternately went by “Turp the Burp” and “Lard of the Rims”, and no one will ever forget the sight of blimpish quarterback Jared Lorenzen, dubbed the “Pillsbury Throwboy,” who could fire lefthanded lasers but ate himself out of the NFL, where he once received a Super Bowl ring as the backup to starter Eli Manning for the New York Giants’ SB XLII victory over the New England Patriots.

It’s a longshot that Big Baby Miller could pull off the upset of Anthony Joshua, but if he did it would serve as an inspiration to couch potatoes everywhere that athletic glory just might be theirs if they put aside the potato chips and beer, at least for a little while. After all, it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog that matters, right? Even if the dog in question is as large as a Clydesdale.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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Fast Results from Minnesota: Rob Brant Retains His Title via TKO 11

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Rob Brant

Rob Brant returned to his home state of Minnesota for the first defense of the WBA middleweight belt he won in Las Vegas with an upset of Ryota Murata. In the opposite corner was a 21-year-old Ukrainian making his U.S. debut, Khasan Baysangurov.

Baysangurov, who came in undefeated (17-0), had good boxing skills but fell behind early and lacked the power to reverse the momentum. Brant, who was the far busier fighter, knocked him down in the third round with a clubbing right hand that landed behind his left ear and finished him off in the 11th.

A flurry of punches, the last of which caught only air, knocked Baysangurov to his knees. He beat the count but was clearly hurt and when Brant snapped his head back with a straight right hand, referee Mark Nelson properly intervened. Brant improved to 25-1 with his 16th knockout. He is one of two middleweight champions recognized by the contemptible WBA, the other being Canelo Alvarez.

In a spirited 8-round affair in the junior lightweight division, 2016 U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer improved to 10-0 with a unanimous decision over spunky 20-year-old Yareli Larios (13-2-1). The scores were 80-72, 79-73, and 78-74. Mayer, who had a 5-inch height advantage, was too physical for Larios, the daughter of former WBC junior featherweight champion Oscar Larios, who worked her corner.

In the first TV bout, Chicago’s Joshua Greer, a rising bantamweight contender, improved to 20-1-1 (12) with an eighth round stoppage of Giovanni Escaner (19-4) of the Philippines. The knockout punch was a short right hand to the pit of the stomach. Greer was down himself earlier in the fight, felled after walking into a short right hand in round three.

Other Bouts

 In an 8-round middleweight contest Tyler Howard improved to 17-0 with a split decision over spunky Christian Olivas who declined to 16-4. Howard, who hails from Crossville, Tennessee, has been attracting some buzz but tonight he didn’t perform as advertised in what was nonetheless an entertaining bout.

In a crossroads fight between two 30-something super middleweights, both southpaws, Lennox Allen (22-0-1) won a unanimous decision over Derrick Webster (28-2). The scores were 97-92 and 98-91 twice. Allen, originally from Guyana, scored the bout’s lone knockdown, decking Webster with a sweeping right hand a millisecond before the bell ending the third round. Webster, from Glassboro, NJ, had won nine straight going in.

 Former U.S. Army veteran Steven Nelson, who defeated Rob Brant as an amateur, won a unanimous decision over Felipe Romero in an 8-round light heavyweight contest. Nelson, based in Omaha, was cheered on by stablemate Terence Crawford. Romero (20-17-1) was once recognized as the cruiserweight champion of Mexico, but has degenerated into an “opponent.” This was his ninth loss in his last 10 starts. Nelson advanced to 13-0 (10).

 In an 8-round lightweight contest, Ismail Muwendo, from Minneapolis via Uganda, scored a unanimous decision over Columbia’s Hevinson Herrera (24-16-1). The scores were 60-54 across the board.

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LA Area Fighters Leo Santa Cruz and John Molina Still Swinging

David A. Avila

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Molina

Two Southern California based prizefighters known for their longtime preference for slugging over slickness, will take center stage.

Both have withstood years of punishment with their battering styles and surprisingly remain staunchly relevant in the fight game despite the years of punishment endured in some of the most brutal fights in the past decade.

WBA featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) defends against Rafael Rivera (26-2-2, 17 KOs) and welterweight John Molina (30-7, 24 KOs) meets undefeated Omar Figueroa (27-0-1, 19 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater in downtown L.A. Fox will televise the PBC fight card.

The two Los Angeles area prizefighters are not the only pugilists who use aggressiveness over slickness, but they are among the few who still manage to go to war with a fighting style that requires toughness, grit and resilience after so many years.

Santa Cruz, 30, comes from a fighting family whose brothers Jose Armando, Antonio and Roberto all put on the gloves.

The East Los Angeles native has been fighting since 2006 with his nonstop punching mode that has enabled him to win world titles as a bantamweight, super bantamweight and twice as a featherweight.

Even before his professional debut Santa Cruz was engaging in wars inside gyms with older, bigger boxers on a daily basis. They’re the kind of sparring battles that can sap the strength out of the strongest men both physically and mentally. Punishment like this can debilitate even the best over time like a hammer chiseling away the hardest granite.

But despite all the hammering Santa Cruz has endured in sparring sessions and prize fights, the rail thin featherweight with the jet black hair remains at the top of the pile in his weight division.

Now Santa Cruz faces Rivera, a dangerous Tijuana fighter who replaces Miguel Flores the original opponent felled by injury. Entering his 13th year as a pro the featherweight champion has bludgeoned his way to the top and remains king of the mountain.

“Leo is just gifted. He wears you down. Certain fighters are given this type of ability. Guys like Sugar Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao they are just born with these gifts,” said Rudy Hernandez who worked with two Santa Cruz brothers as a trainer and cut man.

On Saturday, Leo Santa Cruz makes the third defense of the WBA title since reclaiming it from England’s Carl Frampton in January 2017. Before that, he held it for one defense after beating Abner Mares for the first of two times.

“We were getting ready for Miguel Flores, but in the gym you have to always be ready for any kind of style. We had been already been working with sparring partners who brawl, and that’s what we expect from Rafael Rivera,” said Santa Cruz in Los Angeles on Thursday. “He can take punches, so we’re ready for 12 rounds. We’re going to be smart in this fight because we know what Rivera can do.”

Rivera has already built a reputation as not just a brawler but someone with enough talent and power to upend the future aspirations of Santa Cruz. In his last fight in downtown L.A. he nearly toppled undefeated Joet Gonzalez. He’s not an easy mark.

“I knew immediately that Rivera was a good opponent,” professed Santa Cruz.

Molina

In the welterweight clash local slugger John Molina Jr. meets yet another foe in Omar Figueroa who’s expected to defeat him. He relishes being the underdog.

“I’ve been down this road before. I was never given lofty expectations. There’s no pressure here. I think Omar’s style will accommodate mine and make it a fun fight for the fans,” said Molina.

Molina, 36, has never been a model for how to look and fight with finesse and grace. Instead he’s like a human battering ram you point in a direction and see how long it takes to blast the door down.

He started late in the boxing business at 23 years old. He was about 22 when he had a few amateur fights and was immediately sent into the pros. Balance was never a problem for Molina who had been a wrestler in high school. Power was never a problem either.

Molina was given the rudiments of boxing quickly by boxing guru Ben Lira then sent into the ring wars. Quickly he learned he could be losing a fight on points and eliminate his mistakes with one punch.

Several fighters realized this but far too late.

Back in July 2013, Mickey Bey was winning their fight and was in the last round when he decided to taunt Molina. One punch later he was counted out with 59 seconds left before the final bell.

A year ago Ivan Redkach had knocked down Molina and was eagerly looking to end the fight when he ran into a blow he didn’t see. Down he went and got up groggily. The next round he was finished off by Molina.

That’s how quickly a Molina fight can turn.

And if you think he can’t box, well Molina has that trick up his sleeve as well. When he fought the dangerous Ruslan Provodnikov and used a box and move style to outpoint the heavy-handed Russian fighter, people were amazed.

“You can’t count out John,” said his father John Molina Sr. “Look what he did with Ruslan. Nobody gave my son a chance.”

Figueroa has never been defeated in a boxing ring, but he’s always had problems with the scale. The former lightweight world titlist only had one title defense when he was unable to make 135 pounds and moved up in weight. Against Antonio DeMarco three years ago Figueroa couldn’t make 147 pounds and the fight was held at super welterweight. Though he won the fight, barely, he’s battled the scale for the last four years.

“Training camp went great. I’ve made a lot of changes in my lifestyle and I’m dedicated 100 percent to boxing. Things have never been better,” said Figueroa, 29 who hails from Weslaco, Texas. “Given our styles, there’s no way this is going to go the distance. I think this is going to be an early night and I’m planning on having my hand raised.”

Molina’s ears perk up when he hears words like that.

“Talk is cheap. On Saturday night, we’ll get down,” said Molina at the press conference in L.A. “I’ve been down this road before. I was never given lofty expectations. There’s no pressure here. I think Omar’s style will accommodate mine and make it a fun fight for the fans.”

Fans can expect the expected when it comes to both Santa Cruz and Molina in their respective fights: a lot of punching and a lot of bruises. It’s prizefighting.

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