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LOTIERZO: Comparing Golovkin To Hagler and Monzon Is Premature…For Now

Frank Lotierzo

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Nobody brings out enthusiastic fans in professional boxing like a certified puncher, such as the likes of IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin 34-0 (31).

There’s something about a puncher looking unbeatable on certain nights that it’s impossible to fathom them ever losing, at least in the eyes of some.

We saw it with Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Thomas Hearns on the way up to their title-winning efforts. Then a particular fighter came along, named Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali, Buster Douglas or Sugar Ray Leonard and suddenly they didn’t look so scary and unbeatable.

Of course the three fighters who gave them their first professional loss had something in common — that being they could all fight and didn’t fold physically or mentally the first time the boogey man touched them. If you go back and review boxing history, it’s replete with catch ‘n’ kill KO artists who have massacred every fighter in their path…..until that one day they touched hands with a fighter who stood up to their power and even punched ’em back pretty good.

As of this writing Gennady Golovkin is the new unbeatable wrecking machine in boxing, despite having not faced one truly elite fighter in 34 bouts. Many fans and writers have already begun to compare him favorably to some of the all-time middleweight greats such as Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins. This of course doesn’t sit well with me, even though I believe Golovkin has the potential, yes, potential to become a once in a generation fighter. However, it’s way too early for such accolades in light of the fact that he hasn’t shared the ring with one fighter who I’d consider outstanding, let alone being a near great.

On the way up many observers and fans were proclaiming Mike Tyson would surpass Muhammad Ali as the greatest heavyweight in history, which didn’t turn out to be the case. Remember when it was often stated how Tyson combined hand speed, accuracy and power better than any other heavyweight in history? His defense and being hard to hit was always a staple and after some bouts his jab was highlighted as being a superior weapon too. In hindsight that praise was heaped upon Mike way too soon. Looking back, some of us tried to warn that Mike looked extra great because he hadn’t really fought many outstanding fighters and a lot of his opponents were fighters Larry Holmes beat four or five years earlier.

Well, the same has begun to happen with Gennady Golovkin. Recently, a few colleagues and friends of mine whose boxing acumen I have the utmost respect for sent the below e-mails to me. Here’s a sample:

Dear Frank: “In your opinion, is GGG the best middleweight puncher of all time? I checked his record. 22 KOs in a row, and in almost all cases he stopped his opponent faster than the field did. What else can you say?

Do you think he would likely defeat Hearns, Hagler, Leonard, and Duran of the 1980’s?

I’m thinking he will end up a top 5 ATG at middleweight and I don’t care if he doesn’t feast on Hall of Fame blown up welters.

Lotierzo reply: I’m all in on Golovkin. But it’s too early to rank him for me. I think he is probably too big for Leonard, Hearns and Duran. I couldn’t pick him over Hagler or Hopkins right now….but I’m open to revisiting that down the road.

Actually, I’m more impressed with Kovalev than Golovkin, but Gennady is getting all the hype, in spite of the fact that Sergey has defeated two fighters, Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, impressively, both of whom are three times better than anyone GGG has faced.

Another e-mailed I received:

Dear Frank: “Golovkin reminds me of a middleweight Tyson. Only I think he’s tougher and more durable. I’ve seen enough….on their best night I think he beats Hagler and Hopkins.”

Lotierzo reply: It’s too early to step out and proclaim he could’ve beat Hagler or Hopkins. Based on what? What do you think Hagler/Hopkins would’ve done to David Lemieux the night he fought GGG?

As stated above, punchers are the ones who bring out the most passionate fans and observers. However, punchers are always overrated before they lose for the first time. Like Tyson did to many of his opponents before he lost, a lot of Golovkin’s challengers are intimidated and already defeated before the first round. Mike fed off of that and became even more confident, and I believe the same applies to Gennady. Fighting is so much more mental than most who have never done it can fathom. The fighters who are told how great they are become more unbeatable mentally and those who face them during that period enter the bout with diminished confidence, and once they get hit they succumb easier because they imagine the impact, in some cases, to an even greater degree than it actually was.

In a way it was easier seeing Tyson breezing through the heavyweight division than it is envisioning Golovkin escaping the middleweight division unscathed. There are many more big hitters fighting at heavyweight than there are at middleweight. So that bodes well for Golovkin down the road. On the downside, the overall grade of fighter in the middleweight division is exponentially better than it is in the heavyweight division, so in that regard, Gennady may face more outstanding fighters than Tyson did.

In addition to that, there are a multitude of differences between Tyson and Golovkin when it comes to their amateur background and mental makeup. GGG, I think, has the discipline that Tyson could only dream off. If I were to bet, I get the strong sense that Golovkin’s mental makeup and constitution is centered on a better foundation than Mike’s was. In addition, I think GGG has a better chin in a pound for pound sense in comparison to Tyson, and that’s not insinuating that Tyson couldn’t take a big time shot because he could.

Then again I don’t know that and cannot say for sure regarding GGG because I’ve never seen him under duress or cracked real good by an authentically great puncher. Tyson also had marketing connections that GGG could only dream of. Mike was a bully type of front-runner with some self-destructive tendencies out of the ring and some lack of focus in it. The few who could stand up and test Tyson’s intangibles found him lacking in this department. On the other hand, maybe Gennady will prove to be so great and physically dominant that he’ll never be tested in that vein…but that’s not realistic, I don’t think.

The bottom line is – can we please see a little more of Golovkin against some elite fighters before the comparisons to past middleweight greats start?

I will leave you with this: During the years 1983-85, I thought undisputed welterweight champion Donald Curry was one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters I ever saw. After he knocked out Milton McCrory in the second round in December of 1985, I questioned whether or not a prime Sugar Ray Leonard could’ve beat Curry if both were in their prime. Then he fought Lloyd Honeyghan in September of 1986 and I never questioned that again.

Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Odds Review for Friday’s Boxing on Telemundo

Miguel Iturrate

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boxing odds
South Florida promoter Tuto Zabala Jr has a seven fight card planned for the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee this Friday, February 22nd that sees three undefeated prospects headline the show. For more than two decades, Zabala Jr has promoted the sport in Mexico and Florida and Friday’s event will air on Spanish language Telemundo in the United States, so check your local listings for start times.
A pair of ten round bouts hold the main event spots as undefeated Yomar Alamo faces veteran Manuel Mendez at welterweight and likewise unbeaten Carlos Monroe takes on Jonathan Tavira in a middleweight bout.
The 23 year old Alamo is from fight hungry Puerto Rico and he is considered a key piece to promoter Zabala Jr’s plans to run shows back on the island. The 28 year old Mendez once carried the ‘prospect’ label as well but Mendez is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The experience of being in there with the likes of Sonny Fredrickson (19-1) and undefeated Johnathan Navarro (15-0) will make him Alamo’s toughest test to date. The welterweight division is crowded and Alamo is going to need to keep winning beyond Friday to get noticed, but he already banks on the fervent support of his “boriqua” crowd. Promoter Zabala Jr may be wondering if matchmaker Ruben DeJesus picked the right guy in Mendez. Alamo’s record in Puerto Rico looks to have a good bit of fluff. He didn’t face an opponent with a single pro win until his seventh fight. He faced 40 year old vet Edwin Lopez in 2016, but Lopez hurt his hand in the first round and could not continue, so Alamo is largely untested.
Middleweight prospect Carlos Monroe looks to go 12-0 as he steps in to his first bout scheduled for ten rounds. Veteran Jonathan Tavira provides the opposition for the 24 year old Monroe, who turned pro in December of 2017 and notched 10 fights in calendar year 2018. Monroe has been brought along carefully, as the combined record of his 11 opponents stands at 46-98-8. Tavira has been in there with the likes of Arif Magomedov, Dario Bredicean and Esquiva Falcao, all undefeated fighters on the way up. Tavira hits hard but he has been stopped five times in his six losses, so look for Monroe to improve on his eight KOs to date.
2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas looks to improve to 10-0 in an eight round bantamweight bout against Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5). Vargas was originally scheduled to take on Wilner Soto, a veteran with a 21-5 record and he was a big favorite in that match-up.
Below are the current lines as we start off fight week.
Fri 2/22 – Osceola Heritage Center – Kissimmee, Florida
Welterweight 10 rounds –
Manuel Mendez(16-4-1) +160
Yomar Alamo(15-0)         -210
Middleweight 10 rounds –
Jonathan Tavira (17-6)            +550
Carlos Monroe (11-0)             -1050
Bantamweight 8 rounds –
Lucas Rafael Baez        +1150
Antonio Vargas            -2450
(Opponent change for Vargas, line should be similar for new opponent Lucas Rafael Baez)

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Blake Caparello Looks To Grab WBA Regional Belt This Friday

Miguel Iturrate

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Caparello
This Friday night in Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello returns to action as he faces youngster Reagan Dessaix for the WBA’s Oceania title in the main event of a planned six fight card at The Melbourne Pavilion.
Dessaix currently holds the belt that Caparello held back in 2017, and the 22-year-old is hoping a win on Friday will put him on the international radar. It is where Caparello, who enters this fight as a 32-year-old, has been and hopes to get to again.
Those are the basics of Friday’s main event, the youngster Dessaix making a significant leap in competition level as he looks to get ranked internationally, while the veteran Caparello is hopeful a win will propel him closer to another world title shot.
Caparello laid claim to the IBO’s world title at 175 pounds back in October of 2013 when he won a comfortable unanimous decision over veteran Allan Green. Caparello, who was 17-0-1 at the time of the Green fight, went on to an introductory fight in the United States, and a win there saw him earn an August of 2014 title shot against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Caparello has to feel he was close to a world title as he had the feared Kovalev down in round one before the “Krusher” took him out in round two. Since then, he has fought Isaac Chilemba and Andre Dirrell, extending both ranked veterans the full fight distance. The March of 2018 loss to Chilemba was for the WBC’s world title, and Caparello managed to go 2-0 the rest of the calendar year.
Green, Kovalev, Dirrell and Chilemba. The bottom line is that Dessaix had a solid amateur career in Australia, but there is no one with resumes like the men Caparello has faced when asked to step onto the world scene.
The WBA’s current world champion is Dmitry Bivol (15-0), who is making the fourth defense of his title in March against hard hitting Joe Smith Jr. The veteran Caparello could mount a case for a mandatory shot against either man with a win on Friday, while Dessaix would likely have to keep fighting and winning before earning a shot at a world title.
The co-feature bout is for the Australian title at 154 pounds and sees 31 year old Billy Klimov facing Joel Camilleri. Camilleri is favored as he has had a lot more professional experience than Limov, who turned professional at 29 years old. Strictly regional stuff here.
Both fights have lines at some of the sportsbooks. Check out the numbers as they were at the start of fight week below.
Fri 2/22 – The Melbourne Pavilion – Victoria, Australia
WBA Oceania Title
Light Heavyweight 10 rounds –
Reagan Dessaix(16-1)         +255
Blake Caparello (28-3-1)    -365
Australian Title
Super Welterweight 10 rounds –
Billy Limov (4-0-1)     +200
Joel Camilleri(16-5-1) -280
Check out the link for the live event right here. http://www.epicentre.tv/events/blake-caparello-v-reagan-dessaix/

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Will Fury’s Deal With ESPN Torpedo The Fights That Fight Fans Want to See?

Arne K. Lang

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Fury's deal with ESPN

For the past few weeks, boxing fans have been led to believe that the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was ever so-close to being a done deal. But in the world of professional boxing where Machiavellian characters seemingly hold all the positions of power, nothing is ever a done deal until it’s finally finalized. Today’s announcement that Tyson Fury has signed with ESPN is the latest case in point. It’s a three-fight deal that will reportedly earn the Gypsy King $80 million if he can successfully hurdle the first two legs.

As Thomas Hauser has noted, what we have in boxing today is something similar to leagues in other sports. There’s the Top Rank/ESPN League, the Matchroom/DAZN League, and the PBC/Showtime/FOX League. We would add that these are intramural leagues. Occasionally there’s cross-pollination, similar to when the Yankees play the Mets in a game that counts in the regular season standings, but basically the boxers in each league compete against each other.

We have no doubt that WBC/WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua will eventually fight Wilder and/or Fury, but it now appears that these matches, when they transpire, will have marinated beyond the sell date. The action inside the ring may mirror the Mayweather-Pacquiao dud.

A match between Joshua and Wilder is already somewhat less enticing than it would have been if it had come to fruition last autumn. The odds lengthened in favor of Joshua after Wilder’s raggedy performance against Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

True, the Bronze Bomber almost pulled the fight out of the fire with a thunderous punch but he was out-slicked in most of the rounds and it wasn’t as if he was fighting a bigger version of Pernell Whitaker. Before that fight, casual fans were less tuned-in to Deontay Wilder’s limitations.

It was reported that the Wilder-Fury rematch was headed to Las Vegas or New York, but that Las Vegas fell out of the running when the State Athletic Commission insisted on using Nevada officials. Fury was the one that balked.

In hindsight we should have seen that this was fake news. No Nevada officials were involved in Fury-Wilder I. The judges were from California, Canada, and Great Britain. The California judge voted against Fury, scoring the fight 115-111, a tally for which he was excoriated. The judge from Great Britain, like many ringside reporters, had it draw. The TV crews, especially the crew from Great Britain, left no doubt that Fury should have had his hand raised and the controversy made the hoped-for rematch more alluring.

So who will be Tyson Fury’s next opponent? Speculation immediately centered on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev, who turns 38 of May 4, sports a 26-1 record. He was slated to fight Anthony Joshua in October of 2017 but suffered a torn biceps in training and was forced to withdraw. In his most recent bout he outpointed Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. He’s currently ranked #1 by the IBF.

On Dec. 8 of last year, Bob Arum announced that he had hammered out a deal to co-promote Pulev. It was subsequently reported that Pulev’s first fight under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella would be against Finland’s Robert Helenius on March 23 in Los Angeles. Six days ago, the distinguished European fight writer Per Ake Persson told his readers that the fight had fallen out, ostensibly because the parties could not come to terms.

Tyson Fury is the most charismatic white heavyweight to come down the pike since Gerry Cooney and the big galoot is bigger than Cooney ever was as he has avid followers on both sides of the Atlantic and Cooney didn’t have social media to enhance his profile. I have little doubt that ESPN will recoup their investment in him. However, deals in boxing are never consummated with an eye on uplifting the sport – on patching things up with the disaffected – and here’s yet another example.

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