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Hauser on Mayweather-Berto

Thomas Hauser



There has been an outpouring of commentary about an article entitled “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” that I wrote last week for []. I plan on returning to the issues raised by that article at another time. This article is about Saturday night’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Andre Berto.

Mayweather is one of the most gifted defensive fighters ever and also one of the most polarizing figures in boxing. He was raised by fighters and has amassed an unblemished record of 49 victories in 49 pro fights.

“Floyd knows everything there is to know about boxing except losing,” his uncle (former WBA super-featherweight and WBC super-lightweight champion Roger Mayweather) has said.

Mayweather is a fifteen-round fighter in a twelve-round era. He tires less than his opponent as a fight goes on. Ray Leonard (who most knowledgeable observers place comfortably above Floyd in historical rankings), acknowledges, “Mayweather is one of the best conditioned fighters I have ever seen, bar none. You have to give him his credit. Sometimes there’s outrageous things he says and does. But when he goes into that ring, he’s always in shape. That’s what I respect about him.”

But there’s a downside to the Mayweather saga.

Floyd has a well-documented history of violence against women.

His conspicuous consumption and constant bragging about how much money he makes appeals to some. But given the reality of economic inequality in America today, it turns a lot of people off.

Recently, Mayweather bought a car called the Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita for $4,800,000. In recent years, he has bought more than one hundred luxury cars.

According to the University of Nevada Las Vegas website, the cost of living on-campus and attending UNLV for a full school year is $20,012. That includes tuition, fees, rent, utilities, food, books, other school supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses.

Instead of adding that car to his collection, Mayweather could have taken the money and gifted 240 full-year scholarships to young men and women in his hometown of Las Vegas. And for readers who are saying, “Why doesn’t Hauser donate some money for scholarships,” I’ll note that, several years ago, I had a financial windfall and donated $6,700 to the Arthur Curry Scholarship Fund at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.

Where Mayweather’s in-ring performances are concerned, the most valid complaint has been his choice of opponents. Mayweather has never beaten an elite fighter in his prime. In recent years, he has avoided the best available competition, preferring to fight ordinary opponents or once-dangerous fighters who’ve seen better days.

Andre Berto fit into the Mayweather-opponent mold.

Berto’s father was a Haitian immigrant who competed as a mixed martial artist when Andre was a boy and ran a martial arts academy in Winter Haven, Florida, when Andre was growing up.

“I was exposed to a lot of things early, good and bad,” Berto told this writer several years ago. “Winter Haven is a rough town. Drugs, street gangs, AIDS; it’s all there. A lot of kids think there’s no way out, that there’s no way they can be better than what’s there. You see guys who could have been superstar athletes who gave in to drugs. I had a vision early that I could be great. In school, I was always a little stronger, a little faster, and a little better than the other kids. I wanted to be one of the ones who stood out. And I was living off the example that my father set for me. Self-respect, hard work, stay straight, stay focussed. When I was growing up, my father always told me, ‘The saddest thing in the world is wasted talent.’”

Andre played running back for the Winter Haven High School football team and ran the 100 and 200-yard dash in track. But his true love was boxing. “Running the streets” had a different meaning for him. He was doing roadwork. When he came to school with a black eye and puffed-up lip, it was from sparring, not a gang fight.

By the time Berto was a senior in high school, boxing had taken him to 22 countries. He was a decorated amateur, compiling a 260-and-12 record. He was knocked down twice in the amateurs but never stopped.

The knockdowns came at the 2002 National Golden Gloves.

“I’d won it the year before and was ranked number-one in the country at 152 pounds,” Berto recalls. “I got in the ring with a guy I didn’t know named DeShawn Johnson. I thought it would be an easy fight. He knocked me down twice in the first round and won a decision. I wanted to fight him again so bad. And a month later, he got jumped in a club. Some guys stomped him and shot him and he died.”

Berto turned pro in December 2004 and was regarded as a super-star in the making. At the close of 2010, he was 27-and-0 with 22 knockouts and the WBC welterweight champion.

“My spirit is to try to be dominant,” Andre told the media. “I want to be a superstar. I want to bring it back to the days when Mike Tyson would fight on television, and everybody got off work early so they wouldn’t miss it.”

But in recent years, Berto has regressed as a fighter. Like many Al Haymon clients, he was maneuvered around tough challenges and failed to develop his full potential. Since 2010, Andre has lost four of seven fights, including a knockout defeat at the hands of Jesus Soto Karass.

“The welterweight division is among the deepest in boxing,” Chris Mannix wrote for after Berto was named as Mayweather’s opponent for September 12. “There are established stars, rising stars, and compelling young talents. So of course, Floyd Mayweather picked one of the least qualified of them all. On the list of recent Mayweather opponents, Berto ranks among the worst.”

The match-up was so unappealing that Showtime entered into negotiations with Team Mayweather with an eye toward moving the fight from pay-per-view to CBS. Sources say that the idea failed for a number of reasons. Mayweather was reluctant to give up his contractual guarantee, and CBS-Showtime financial models predicted that advertising revenue would be significantly less than the projected income from even a diminished number of PPV buys. There wasn’t enough time to market the event to potential advertisers. And given Mayweather’s history of domestic violence, many mainstream advertisers didn’t want to be associated with him.

The odds varied widely. But generally, Mayweather was a 20-to-1 favorite.

The announced fight night attendance was 13,395, well short of a sellout. That number included quite a few complimentary tickets in addition to tickets that were sold at a discount.

From the opening bell on, Berto seemed resigned to his fate. He was a challenger who didn’t challenge. There were two guys in the ring, but it wasn’t much of a fight.

Mayweather isn’t a big puncher. But as Oscar De La Hoya has noted, “Every fighter has a punch.” Floyd’s punches might not stun. But they sting and are hard enough to keep opponents from coming forward with abandon.

Berto looked tight in the opening rounds and befuddled for most of the night. He came forward in a straight line, made zero adjustments, threw few meaningful punches, and fought as though Mayweather’s body was off limits.

Indeed, Andre talked more aggressively during the fight than he fought in it. Mayweather, as one might expect, responded to the verbiage. In round ten, referee Kenny Bayless stopped the proceedings briefly and told the fighters to stop trash-talking.

That led Showtime analyst Al Bernstein to observe, “Let’s be honest. The most interesting thing about this fight has been the debate.”

Blow-by-blow commentator Mauro Ranallo added, “The conversation might be more interesting than what we’re seeing in the ring.”

Mayweather outlanded Berto by a 232-to-83 margin. This observer gave Andre one round. The judges scored it 120-108, 118-110, 117-111 for Mayweather.

Prior to the fight, Mayweather and his team said repeatedly that this would be his last fight. Afterward, Floyd proclaimed, “My career is over. It’s official. You got to know when to hang ‘em up. I’m leaving the sport with all of my faculties. I’ve accomplished everything. There’s nothing more to accomplish in the sport.”

If Mayweather really doesn’t fight again, he deserves credit for standing by his word and leaving at the top (as Lennox Lewis did a decade ago). Most observers, myself included, think that Floyd will fight again.

There have been times in the past when Mayweather’s word was suspect. Time will tell whether or not he’s telling the truth now.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at His most recent book (Thomas Hauser on Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

Photo Credit: Idris Erba/Mayweather Promotions


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Lomachenko – Pedraza and More

Thomas Hauser



Lomachenko - Pedraza

Boxing returned to the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on December 1. Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza in the main event drew a sellout crowd of 5,312. The non-televised undercard was respectable. And the three-fight telecast that followed the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN had moments of drama.

The first televised bout of the evening showcased Teofimo Lopez (10-0, 8 KOs), a 21-year-old lightweight who’s rapidly moving from prospect to contender status. Mason Menard (34-3, 24 KOs) was Lopez’s designated victim. All three of Menard’s losses had been by knockout and this was expected to be the fourth “KO by” on his record.

Lopez has all the confidence and arrogance of a young fighter with a big punch who’s on the rise. It took him all of 44 seconds to blast Menard into oblivion.

Next up, 24-year-old Isaac Dogboe (20-0, 14 KOs) sought to defend his WBO 122-pound title against Emanuel Navarrete (25-1, 22 KOs) of Mexico. Dogboe was born in Ghana but grew up in England. He claimed his belt with an eleventh-round stoppage of Jessie Magdaleno in April of this year and was considered a fighter who doesn’t need protecting.

Navarrete was fighting outside of Mexico for the first time, which is often a sign of a padded record.

Dogboe entered the bout as a 7-to-1 betting favorite and mounted a two-fisted assault to the head and body in the first stanza. But Navarrete had come to fight and began landing shots of his own in round two, at which point Issaac’s chin seemed a bit suspect. As the bout wore on, Dogboe did his best work on the inside. When he gave Navarrete room to punch, Emanuel obliged him.

It was a spirited, back-and forth, action encounter that was even after eight rounds. Then Navarrete picked up the pace and won the final four frames going away. By the end, Dogboe’s face was badly swollen; his left eye was almost shut; and he was trying simply to survive. He made it to the final bell but was dethroned by a 116-112, 116-112, 115-113 margin.

Good fight, good decision.

Lomachenko (11, 9 KOs) vs. Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs) was promoted on the basis of both men having titles, which is a little like promoting a title-unification football game between the Big Ten and Ivy League champions.

Lomachenko’s ring prowess has been amply catalogued. Twelve of his professional bouts have been contested for world titles. He’s an elite fighter while Pedraza is a good one. In match ups like that, the elite fighter almost always wins.

Top Rank had planned to match Lomachenko (the WBO 135-pound champion) against Raymundo Beltran (the WBA beltholder) as part of an “immigrant-from-Mexico-gets-citizenship” feel-good story. But Pedraza upset the apple cart in August of this year by winning a unanimous-decision over Beltran.

Lomachenko was returning to the ring after surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered in his right shoulder during a May 12 victory over Jorge Linares. Still, Vasyl was an early 12-to-1 favorite over Pedraza and the odds moved as high as 20-to-1 reflecting the fighters’ respective ring skills.

The crowd was highly-partisan in favor of Lomachenko. Fighters from Puerto Rico are rarely booed in New York during pre-fight introductions, but it happened here.

It was an interesting exercise for boxing purists. The early rounds were tactically fought. Then Lomachenko figured out what he had to do to beat Pedraza down and did it. Many of the early rounds were close enough that the judges could have given them to whichever fighter they wanted to. But Lomachenko pulled away late, putting an exclamation mark on his performance with two eleventh-round knockdowns that came close to ending matters short of the 119-107, 117-112, 117-112 judges’ verdict in his favor.

Lomachenko looked a bit less “high tech” against Pedraza than he has in the past. He didn’t exploit angles as effectively and control the range as well as in some of his earlier fights. Part of that was because Pedraza is fast on his feet and spent long portions of the evening jabbing and moving away. Another reason might be that Lomachenko’s best fighting weight by his own evaluation is 130 pounds. There were times when he had trouble with Jorge Linares’s height and reach when he fought Linares seven months ago. And that was true for stretches of time against the taller Pedraza. Mikey Garcia might be a bit too big for Lomachenko.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Thomas Hauser’s new email address is His most recent book – Protect Yourself at All Times– was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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Cecilia Braekhus, Claressa Shields Win at the StubHub plus Undercard Results

David A. Avila




LOS ANGELES-A farewell show by boxing network HBO showcased two dominant women in the boxing world as Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields mowed through their respective opponents with little resistance on Saturday.

Braekhus (35-0, 9 KOs) tried hard to put another knockout on her ledger but Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes showed enough resistance to go the distance in front of a sparse and cold crowd numbering less than 1,000 at the StubHub Center.

The Norwegian fighter Braekhus won by unanimous decision after 10 rounds and retains her hold on the undisputed welterweight championship that includes the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles.

Braekhus started slowly and patiently in the first two rounds but was able to rifle right hands and left hooks through the slower Lopes guard. But she never could put that finishing touch.

In the fifth round a counter right cross staggered Lopes but she remained upright though visibly hurt. A follow up attack proved unsuccessful by the welterweight champion.

“I wanted to knock out the girl who also beat Kali Reis,” said Braekhus “I might have pushed it too much. I got a little bit eager. That normally shouldn’t happen but this is a historical night.”

It was the final show of HBO’s 45 year reign as one of boxing’s premier networks.

“I’m just so honored to be on HBO,” said Braekhus

El Gallo

Mexico’s Juan “El Gallo” Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26 KOs) won by stoppage at the end of round seven against fellow hometown fighter Victor Mendez (28-4-2, 20 KOs) at the end of the seventh round in their super flyweight clash.

Both fighters hail from Hermosillo, Mexico but there was no hometown comradery as Estrada broke down Mendez more and more each round. Each round seemed to incite more blows from Estrada who fired five and six-punch combinations with ease to the body and head.

Mendez tried to fight his way out of the onslaught but his blows did not seem to have the effect desired. Instead, Estrada would open up even more with left hook to the body and left uppercut to the chin.

Finally, after one particularly rough one-sided round, Mendez’s corner stopped the fight.


In less than a month Claressa Shields (8-0, 2 KOs) wiped out another middleweight contender, this time Belgium’s Femke Hermans (9-2, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 one-side rounds.

Three weeks ago Shields had dominated Scotland’s Hannah Rankin in similar fashion and had few problems with either European fighter. But sitting front row in the audience was Christina Hammer who holds the WBO version. She will be next.

Shields powered through Hermans with her amped up aggressive style and was especially effective with the check left hook. She also rocked the Belgian fighter with over hand rights but could not drop the European fighter who holds a super middleweight world title.

Hermans learned in the first two rounds she couldn’t match the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s speed, so she settled into a defensive counter punching style. It did not work.

Though Shields tried luring the European fighter into some traps, the Belgian boxer refused to lead. The fight was Shields to take. She began pummeling the body especially in the fourth and fifth rounds. In one volley she unloaded seven consecutive body shots and easily slipped a counter right.

Shields wobbled Hermans in the ninth round with a left hook and staggered her with a pair of shots in the 10th round. But the Belgian fighter stayed on her feet. All three judges scored the fight 100-90 for Shields who retains the WBA, WBC and IBF world titles.

Now Shields is set to face Hammer who has the WBO middleweight title in the early spring. Showtime will televise.

Hammer spoke to the media before the Shields-Hermans fight.

“I move around very well, I have better movement,” said Hammer whose fight with Shields was postponed in November due to a stomach illness suffered by the tall German boxer. “I want to be the undisputed world champion.”

Bang Bang

Australia’s Louisa “Bang Bang” Hawton (9-2, 3 KOs) stopped Lorraine Villalobos (2-2-1) of Los Angeles at the end of fifth round in an atomweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Hawton and Villalobos exchanged furiously for three rounds with each connecting with big blows. But by the fourth round Villalobos slowed considerably and Hawton took over the fight.

The Aussie fighter was supposed to meet interim WBC atomweight titlist Brenda Flores who won a split decision last September. But Flores was forced to pull out.

Other Bouts

Serhii Bohachuk (12-0, 12 KOs) won by KO in the fifth round of a middleweight bout over Puerto Rico’s Carlos Garcia Hernandez (15-19-1)

Mario Ramos (7-0, 7 KOs) knocked out Elliott Brown in the fifth round of a 6-round lightweight fight.

Light flyweight Shukichi Iwata won his pro debut with a fourth round KO of Joel Bermudez (0-2)

Lightweight Reno Moreno floored David Courtney with a body shot to win by KO in round four of a lightweight match.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results From Madison Square Garden: Lomachenko UD 12; Dogboe Upset

Arne K. Lang



Lomachenko vs Pedraza

Vasiliy Lomachenko successfully defended his WBA lightweight title and added Jose Pedraza’s WBO 135-pound belt with a unanimous decision. The scores were 119-107 and 117-109 twice.

Through the first 10 rounds, the bout was somewhat monotonous. Lomachenko landed the cleaner punches and was clearly ahead on the scorecards. The fight was redounding well to Gervonta Davis who handled Pedraza more handily than what Loma was doing. But then in the 11th, the Ukrainian solidified his reputation as an elite fighter, perhaps worthy of being considered #1 P4P. He strafed Pedraza with combinations to the head and body, landing 42 power punches according to CompuBox, and twice knocked Pedraza to his knees.

Pedraza weathered the storm and made it through the 12th, but when the final bell sounded there wasn’t a shred of doubt that Lomachenko had won his 11th consecutive fight, improving to 12-1. Pedraza fell to 25-2.


In a big upset, Mexico’s unheralded Emanuel Navarrete, in his U.S. debut, wrested the WBO 122-pound title from previously undefeated Isaac Dogboe with a unanimous decision. The scores (116-112, 115-113 twice) did not reflect Navarrete’s dominance. At the end of the fight, both of Dogboe’s eyes were swollen and he was bleeding from his nose. In the late stages, the fight became so one-sided that referee Benjy Estevez would have been justified in stopping it. However, Estevez will be faulted in some quarters for missing a knockdown. In round nine, Navarrete went down hard from a punch that glanced off his shoulder and hit him in the face. Estevez ruled it a slip.

Navarrete was somewhat awkward, but he was bigger and stronger, four inches taller with an eight inch longer reach. With the victory, his twenty-first straight, he improved his ledger to 26-1. Dogboe lost for the first time in 25 starts.


In the first TV bout, Teofimo Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs) scored a spectacular one-punch knockout of Mason Menard (34-4). It was all over in 44 seconds.

Lopez, born in Brooklyn and raised in south Florida, tagged Menard on the jaw with a looping overhand right. The fighter from Cajunland fell face first to the canvas and was unconscious before he hit the floor. He was still woozy as he was helped from the ring.


Welterweight Alexander Besputin stepped up in class and made a very strong showing. Besputin (12-0, 9 KOs) took tough Juan Carlos Abreu of the Dominican Republic to school, knocking him down twice en route to winning a lopsided decision. Besputin won every round on all three cards. His showing was far better than that of the more ballyhooed Egidijus Kavaliauskas, the Lithuanian knockout artist who won a hard-fought 10-round decision over Abreu in Abreu’s previous bout.

Italian heavyweight Guido Vianello, a policeman in Rome, won his pro debut with a second round stoppage of Luke Lyons. A 2016 Olympian who was 7-5 as a pro-am in the World Series of Boxing, Vianello has been training at Abel Sanchez’s compound in Big Bear where he sparred with Tyson Fury. Lyons brought a 5-1-1 record but it was compiled on the disreputable West Virginia circuit.

Twenty-year-old Bronx junior welterweight Josue Vargas, in his first appearance at Madison Square Garden, stopped Panama’s John Renteria (16-6-1) at the 32 second mark of round five. It was no contest as Vargas, who improved to 12-1 (8), knocked Renteria to the canvas three times before the bout was halted.

In the opening bout, slated for eight rounds in the junior welterweight class, Mexico’s Abdiel Ramirez (24-3-1, 22 KOs) scored a mild upset with a 7th round stoppage of Newark’s Michael Perez. There were three knockdowns in all with Perez hitting the deck in rounds one and seven. Ramirez was ahead on the cards at the time of the stoppage.

Check back tomorrow for Thomas Hauser’s ringside report.

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