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The Hauser Report: Mikey Garcia Was Too Small, Too Slow, Too Good

Thomas Hauser

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THE HAUSER REPORT — Adrien Broner vs. Mikey Garcia at Barclays Center on July 29 was an intriguing match-up and a significant opportunity for both fighters.

Broner (33-2, 24 KOs) turned 28 one day before the bout. Early in his career, he blew through a series of overmatched opponents and looked great in the process. But he has struggled against more credible competition and, in two step-up fights prior to facing Garcia, lost to Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter.

Broner also postures so obnoxiously, says so many silly self-aggrandizing things, and has been in trouble with the law so often that it’s easy to forget the skills he has and how hard it is to do what he does well in the ring.

Shortly after Broner-Garcia was announced, Adrien criticized boxing fans and the media, saying, “I just feel like they don’t put enough respect on my name. I’m the one the kids wanna be now. Coming up, everybody wanted to be like Floyd that’s my age. Now, coming up, all the kids wanna be like Adrien Broner.”

Not . . .

Still, Broner-Garcia offered Adrien a chance to reestablish his credibility as a world-class fighter.

Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) is one year older than Broner and has met every challenge he has faced in the ring. But because of contractual problems with his former promoter (Top Rank), he’d fought only eight rounds in the preceding 42 months.

Broner-Garcia wasn’t for a world title, but no one cared. It shaped up as the most important fight to date in Garcia’s career and an opportunity for him to take a big step forward in terms of public recognition and marketability.

Blue collar vs. gaudy bling.

Garcia opened as a 6-to-1 betting favorite, which seemed like ridiculously long odds.

Broner isn’t an easy out. The fighters he’d lost to – Maidana and Porter – were naturally bigger men who’d beaten him with roughhouse tactics and unremitting pressure, which isn’t Garcia’s style.

Also, Broner-Garcia would be contested at a contract weight of 140 pounds. That represented a new high for Mikey, while Adrien had fought between 140 and 147 pounds on six occasions.

“I’m still a lightweight,” Mikey said when the fight was announced. “I feel that my best division right now is at 135.”

Meanwhile, Broner has a long history of blowing off contractual weight requirements but told the media he’d “make weight easy.”

“I’ve gotten older and I’m getting more wise,” Adrien said. “This next half of my career, I’m focusing more on doing everything the correct way. The first half, I tried to do everything my way. It worked but I could have been better, so I want to try to do everything correctly. I haven’t made weight lately. For what? Now I got a reason to make 140. I ain’t giving nobody half of one million dollars.”

That was a reference to the reported $500,000 penalty that awaited Broner if he failed to make weight.

Then, not only did Adrien make weight; he came in at 138-3/4 pounds. Safely under the contract limit and twelve ounces lighter than Garcia.

The pre-fight buzz had been, ‘For Broner to win, he has to show up in shape and bring his heart.” Now it appeared as though, at the very least, Adrien would show up in shape. By fight day, the odds had dropped below 2-to-1. People were starting to focus on the fact that Broner was naturally bigger than Garcia, faster than Garcia, and better than anyone Mikey had fought.

There were 12,084 fans at Barclays Center on fight night. Rau’shee Warren (14-2, 4 KOs) won a 12-round decision over McJoe Arroyo (17-1, 8 KOs) in an IBF title-elimination bout. 2016 Irish Olympian and gold-medal winner Katie Taylor (5-0, 3 KOs) outclassed Jasmine Clarkson (4-8) in a mismatch that represented a step down from Taylor’s most recent opponents and ended in three rounds.

Then the heavyweights took center stage.

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (18-0-1, 16 KOs), age 29, is one of boxing’s more intriguing prospects. He has a huge personality and is touted as having a punch to match. But his work ethic is suspect and he’d been out of action since last August because of a contractual dispute with his promoter, Dmitry Salita.

Gerald Washington (18-1-1, 12 KOs), despite sporting a record comparable to Miller’s, was the designated “opponent.” But he wasn’t a pushover. In his most recent fight, Washington had been even with Deontay Wilder on two of the three judges’ scorecards when he was stopped in the fifth round. And he’d fought better fighters than Miller had fought.

Heavyweights are fun to watch, Miller is fun to watch and listen to. Among the thoughts “Big Baby” uttered in the days leading up to the fight were:

“I never had to go to a Plan B or a Plan C because nobody can get past Plan A.”

“Gerald Washington is not a bum, but I don’t see nothing too special about him. Deontay fought him and it took him five rounds to get him out. So I would definitely like to get him out earlier than Deontay to prove a point.”

“I’ve never seen anybody go five rounds, get knocked out, and get praised for that. Where I come from, we call that an ass-whipping.”

At the final pre-fight press conference, Washington said simply, “I came here to shut that big mouth up.”

One day before the fight, Miller weighed in at a personal high of 298.8 pounds. Washington registered a more svelte 248.

The fight began with Washington jabbing and throwing occasional right hands while Miller walked him down with his own hands held high in a protective posture. In round two, Jarrell started going to the body with both fists, and Washington started to slow down. By round three, both men looked tired, which was a testament to Miller’s body attack and also his own lack of conditioning. By round five, both fighters looked like they were moving in slow motion. Washington started round six with new-found vigor and landed some good right hands. But Jarrell finished the stanza strong in the manner of a slow-moving avalanche.

After eight rounds, Washington’s corner had seen enough and stopped the fight. Two judges had Miller ahead 79-72 and 77-75 at the time of the stoppage. John Stewart’s scorecard was inexplicably even at 76-76.

The next bout matched former IBF 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo (25-0, 19 KOs) against Jorge Sebastian Heiland (29-4-2, 16 KOs).

Charlo had scored impressive victories over Julian Williams and Austin Trout in his two most recent fights and is a very good fighter.

Heiland had a 2014 knockout win over a faded Matthew Macklin on his resume but not much more. The four men Sebastian had fought since then have a total of 66 losses on their combined ring records. Yet that had been enough for Heiland to be ranked #1 by the WBC, which qualified him to fight Charlo (#2) in a middleweight “title elimination” bout that was all but certain to eliminate Heiland. Charlo was a 20-to-1 betting favorite.

Charlo-Heiland was as one-sided as people thought it would be. Midway through round two, Jarmall dropped Sebastian with a right uppercut followed by a vicious pounding that referee Benjy Esteves seemed vaguely aware of but was loathe to interrupt. At that point, it was clear that Heiland was going to get beaten up until the fight was over, which was in round four.

After the bout, Heiland said he turned his left knee in the first round and that the injury hampered him during the fight. The available evidence strongly suggests that his knee was injured before the fight. More on that on The Sweet Science later this week.

That set the stage for Broner-Garcia.

The fight began with Garcia trying to close the gap between them and Broner trying to widen it. Or phrased differently, Mikey was seeking to engage in violent confrontation while Adrien was seeking to avoid it.

Broner likes to lay back and counter until he has worn his opponent down. But countering like that is almost impossible to do against Garcia.

Timing can beat speed. Garcia dominated the first eight rounds fighting a disciplined fight, mixing punches to the head and body, and surgically carving Broner apart. Adrien shook his head so often to indicate Mikey’s punches weren’t hurting him that, after a while, one could be forgiven for fearing he’d get whiplash.

Broner’s best chance to win was to engage. It was clear that he couldn’t outbox Garcia. But it also seemed that he was more likely to hurt Mikey with one punch than the other way around. In round nine, Adrien began coming forward and enjoyed his best three minutes of the fight, highlighted by several clean hooks to the head and body and two more that looked low. But he never went for broke, and Garcia reestablished control.

Garcia was technically brilliant and gave Broner as boxing lesson, outlanding him by a 244-to-125 margin over the course of twelve rounds. The judges scored the bout 117-111, 116-112, 116-112 in Mikey’s favor. Very few other people in the arena thought it was that close.

After the fight, Garcia declared, “This is definitely one of my best performances ever. I was the superior fighter tonight.”

He was right on both counts.

Broner talked the talk. Garcia walked the walk. There’s a difference. Mikey Garcia doesn’t posture. Mikey Garcia doesn’t talk big. All Mikey Garcia does is fight. But he does that very well.

Photo credit: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – A Hard World: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing – 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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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Arne K. Lang

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In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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Popo vs. “La Hiena”: Blast From the Past – Episode Two

Ted Sares

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Freitas

When WBA/WBO super featherweight champion Acelino “Popo” Freitas met Jorge Rodrigo “Il Hiena” Barrios in Miami on August 8, 2003, there was more on the line than just the titles. This was a roughhousing 39-1-1 Argentinian fighting an equally tough 33-0 Brazilian. The crowd was divided between Brazilian fans and those from Argentina. To them this was a Mega-Fight; this was BIG.

When Acelino Freitas turned professional in 1995, he streaked from the gate with 29 straight KOs, one of the longest knockout win streaks in boxing history. He was fan-friendly and idolized in Brazil. Barrios turned professional in 1996 and went 14-0 before a DQ loss after which he went 25-0-1 with 1 no decision.

The Fight

The wild swinging “Hyena” literally turned into one as he attacked from the beginning and did not let up until the last second of the eleventh round. Barrios wanted to turn the fight into a street fight and was reasonably successful with that strategy. It became a case of brawler vs. boxer/puncher and when the brawler caught the more athletic Popo—who could slip and duck skillfully—and decked him with a straight left in the eighth, the title suddenly was up for grabs.

The Brazilian fans urged their hero on but to no avail as Barrios rendered a pure beat down on Popo during virtually the entirety of the 11th round—one of the most exciting in boxing history. Freitas went down early from a straight right. He was hurt, and at this point it looked like it might be over. Barrios was like a madman pounding Popo with a variety of wild shots, but with exactly one half of one second to go before the bell ending the round, Freitas caught La Hiena with a monster right hand that caused the Hyena to do the South American version of the chicken dance before he went down with his face horribly bloodied. When he got up, he had no idea where he was but his corner worked furiously to get him ready for the final round. All he had to do was hang in there and the title would change hands on points.

The anonymous architect of “In Boxing We Trust,” a web site that went dormant in 2010, wrote this description:

“Near the end of round 11, about a milli-second before the bell rang, Freitas landed a ROCK HARD right hand shot flush on Barrios’ chin. Barrios stood dazed for a moment, frozen in time, and then down he went, WOW WOW WOW!!!! Barrios got up at the count of 4, he didn’t know where he was as he looked around towards the crowd like a kid separated from his family at a theme park, but Barrios turned to the ref at the count of 8 and signaled that he was okay, SAVED BY THE BELL. It was panic time in the Barrios corner, as the blood continued to flow like lava, and he was bleeding from his ear (due to a ruptured ear drum). In the beginning of round 12, Freitas was able to score an early knockdown, and as Barrios stood up on wobbly legs and Freitas went straight at him and with a couple more shots, Barrios was clearly in bad shape and badly discombobulated and the fight was stopped. Freitas had won a TKO victory in round 12, amazing!!!!”

Later, Freitas tarnished his image with a “No Mas” against Diego Corrales, but he had gone down three times and knew there was no way out. He went on to claim the WBO world lightweight title with a split decision over Zahir Raheem, but that fight was a snoozefest and he lost the title in his first defense against Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz.

Freitas looked out of shape coming in to the Diaz fight and that proved to be the case as he was so gassed at the end of the eighth round that he quit on his stool. This was yet another shocker, but others (including Kostya Tszyu, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya and even Ali) had done so and the criticism this time seemed disproportionate.

Popo had grown old. It happens. Yet, against Barrios, he had proven without a doubt that he possessed the heart of a warrior.

The Brazilian boxing hero retired in 2007, but came back in 2012 and schooled and KOd the cocky Michael “The Brazilian Rocky” Oliveira. He won another fight in 2015 and though by now he was visibly paunchy, he still managed to go 10 rounds to beat Gabriel Martinez in 2017 with occasional flashes of his old explosive volleys. These later wins, though against lower level opposition, somewhat softened the memories of the Corrales and Diaz fights, both of which this writer attended at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut. They would be his only defeats in 43 pro bouts.

Like Manny Pacquiao, Freitas had a difficult childhood but was determined to make a better life for himself and his family. And, like Manny, he did and he also pursued a career in politics. Whether he makes it into the Hall will depend on how much a ‘No Mas’ can count against one, but he warrants serious consideration when he becomes eligible.

As for the Hyena, on April 8, 2005, he won the WBO junior lightweight title with a fourth round stoppage of undefeated but overweight Mike Anchondo. In January 2010 he was involved in a hit and run accident in which a 20-year-old pregnant woman was killed. On April 4, 2012 Barrios was declared guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to four years in prison. He served 27 months and never fought again, retiring with a record of 50-4-1.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest active full power lifters in the world. A member of Ring 10, and Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he was recently cited by Hannibal Boxing as one of three “Must-Read” boxing writers.

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The Avila Perspective Chapter 6: Munguia, Cruiserweights and Pacman

David A. Avila

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Adjoining states

Adjoining states in the west host a number of boxing cards including a world title contest that features a newcomer who, before knocking out a world champion, was erroneously categorized by a Nevada official as unworthy of a title challenge.

Welcome to the world of Mexico’s Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) the WBO super welterweight world titlist who meets England’s Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 21. HBO will televise

Back in April when middleweight titan Gennady “GGG” Golovkin was seeking an opponent to replace Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who was facing suspension for performance enhancement drug use, it was the 21-year-old from Tijuana who volunteered his services for a May 5th date in Las Vegas.

Bob Bennett, the Executive Director for Nevada State Athletic Commission, denied allowing Munguia an opportunity to fight Golovkin for the middleweight titles. Bennett claimed that the slender Mexican fighter had not proven worthy of contesting for the championship though the tall Mexican wielded an undefeated record of 28 wins with 24 coming by knockout.

To be fair, Bennett has seen many fighters in the past with undefeated records who were not up to challenges, especially against the likes of Golovkin. But on the other hand, how can an official involved in prizefighting deny any fighter the right to make a million dollar payday if both parties are willing?

That is the bigger question.

Munguia stopped by Los Angeles to meet with the media last week and spoke about Bennett and his upcoming first world title defense. He admitted to being in the middle of a whirlwind that is spinning beyond his expectations. But he likes it.

“I’ve never won any kind of award before in my life,” said Munguia at the Westside Boxing Club in the western portion of Los Angeles. “I’ve always wanted to be a world champion since I was old enough to fight.”

When asked how he felt about Nevada’s denying him an attempt to fight Golovkin, a wide grin appeared on the Mexican youngster.

“I would like to thank him,” said Munguia about Bennett’s refusal to allow him to fight Golovkin. “Everything happens for a reason.”

That reason is clear now.

Two months ago Munguia put on a frightening display of raw power in knocking down then WBO super welterweight titlist Sadam Ali numerous times in front of New York fans. It reminded me of George Foreman’s obliteration of Joe Frazier back in the 1970s. World champions are not supposed get battered like that but when someone packs that kind of power those can be the terrifying results.

Still beaming over his newfound recognition, Munguia has grand plans for his future including challenging all of the other champions in his weight category and the next weight division.

“I want to be a great champion,” said Munguia. “I want to make history.”

The first step toward history begins on Saturday when he faces former world champion Smith who was dethroned by another Mexican named Canelo.

Cruiserweight championship

It’s not getting a large amount of attention in my neighborhood but this unification clash between WBA and IBF cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) and WBC and WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) has historic ramifications tagged all over it.

The first time I ever saw Russia’s 24-year-old Gassiev was three years ago when he made his American debut at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello. It’s a small venue near East L.A. and the fight was attended by numerous boxing celebrities such as James “Lights Out” Toney, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. One entire section was filled by Russian supporters and Gassiev did not disappoint in winning by stoppage that night. His opponent hung on for dear life.

Ukraine’s Usyk, 31, made his American debut in late 2016 on a Golden Boy Promotions card that staged boxing great Bernard Hopkins’ final prizefight. That night the cruiserweight southpaw Usyk bored audiences with his slap happy style until lowering the boom on South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu in round nine at the Inglewood Forum. The sudden result stunned the audience.

Now it’s Gassiev versus Usyk and four world titles are at stake. The unification fight takes place in Moscow, Russia and will be streamed via Klowd TV at 12 p.m. PT/ 3 p.m. ET.

Seldom are cruiserweight matchups as enticing to watch as this one.

Another Look

A couple of significant fights took place last weekend, but Manny Pacquiao’s knockout win over Lucas Matthysse for the WBO welterweight world title heads the list.

Neither fighter looked good in their fight in Malaysia but when Pacquiao floored Matthysse several times during the fight, it raised some red flags.

The last time Pacquiao knocked out a welterweight was in 2009 against Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas. Since then he had not stopped an opponent. What changed?

In this age of PEDs there was no mention of testing for the Pacquiao/Matthysse fight. For the curiosity of the media and the fans, someone should come forward with proof of testing. Otherwise any future fights for the Philippine great will not be forthcoming.

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