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Jim Lampley and 16 Others Weigh in on the Problem of PED Use in Boxing

For this latest survey, I reached out for suggestions from our regular panel of respondents. Among the fascinating survey questions submitted

Ted Sares




For this latest survey, I reached out for suggestions from our regular panel of respondents. Among the fascinating survey questions submitted were “Should Boxers Be Allowed to Have Beards?” and “What Was Your Brush With Greatness?”

Picking one was difficult, but I ultimately chose to go with a question of great topical interest: How Would You Deal With PED Cheats? Thanks to Steve Canton for passing along this suggestion. A Floridian, Steve has been involved in every aspect of boxing for more than 50 years. Once again, the respondents are listed alphabetically.

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI (TSS boxing writer): I am an advocate of three strikes and you’re out. A first positive test would be a one-year ban from all ratings (and/or stripped of belt) and to re-enter the ratings the fighter would have to defeat a top ten opponent. The second offense would be an 18-month ban from ratings (and/or stripped of belt) and to re-renter ratings the boxer would have to defeat a top ten opponent. And a third positive test is permanent ban from ratings.

JOE BRUNO (former NYC sportswriter and author of more than 45 crime-related books): First offense – one-year suspension. Second offense – three year suspension. Third offense – lifetime ban. No appeal processes. Of course, this being America, the suspended fighter can sue. Good luck with that

STEVE CANTON (author and the face of boxing in Florida): My opinion: Anyone who fails a PED test should be banned for life from boxing, no questions asked. Career is over – permanently. The problem would disappear in a hurry. (Note: Steve also favors stiff penalties for those who come in overweight.)

MONTE COX (boxing historian): I’m not sure how much PEDs help a boxer, but I definitely feel it is cheating. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to regulate that maybe they should let everyone use to guarantee a level playing field. That’s sad to say though.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ (journalist; one of only eight lifetime members of the Boxing Writers Association of America): Some drug tests, although rare, yield false positives. That is why I think it might be excessive to institute a one-strike-and-you’re-out-forever policy. There is also a difference between the type of designer drugs that turned baseball’s Barry Bonds from a 185-pound leadoff-man type into a 235-pound home run machine, and trace amounts of a banned substance found in certain legitimate medications. A first offense should result in a one-year suspension and a fine, not necessarily a career-killer, and a second a four-year suspension with a stiffer fine. A third offense? Permanent banishment and a major hit to the bank account. Oh, and let’s convince the International Boxing Hall of Fame to forever ban two- or three-time offenders.

LEE GROVES (author, writer and the Wizard of CompuBox): It would be easy to throw the hammer down and impose an instant and permanent ban upon hearing the accusation because it is true that boxing is a tough enough sport without throwing chemically enhanced fighters (and chemically enhanced punches) into the mix. The effects of PEDs, particularly in boxing, are deadlier than in most other sports because there are bodies, brains and long-term quality of life issues involved. Therefore, PED cases must be dealt with severely when confirmed, not only as a punishment for the offenders but also to act as a deterrent for those thinking about juicing. Because a PED conviction can stain a fighter’s reputation — and money-making ability — for the rest of his life, accusations should be approached with the utmost care and due process should be exercised, which I believe it is.

If a fighter is exonerated, that exoneration should be trumpeted as loudly and as widely as the original accusation so that the damage can be reversed as much as possible. After all, fair is fair. With the current scheduling protocol between fights — superstars fight only twice a year if that — the penalty should also be long enough to inflict deep pain. I believe the minimum penalty for a first offense should be two years, and I wouldn’t mind if it was three. A second offense should result in a lifetime ban as well as an especially punitive fine. If such athletes were to try other sports (such as MMA or kickboxing) in order to skirt around the first-offense penalty, that PED penalty should follow them and disqualify them as well. To sum up, PEDs are a real issue and while protocols should be followed, the penalties for the guilty should be severe and long-lasting.

HENRY HASCUP (historian, collector, and long-time president of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame): I’d fine and suspend them and take any relevant title away.

JEFF JOWETT (longtime boxing scribe and heir to the late Jack Obermayer as an authority on Diners): I don’t have much of an opinion. I’m not in the administrative end of the sport much. I do see one problem, though, in invalidating fight results. I don’t believe anyone can effectively determine what role a PED actually played in the outcome of a contest. Suppose the guy got knocked out? Then take the victory away from the opponent and call it NC? Or suppose the offender won! Is it right to say he won BECAUSE of the PED? A pretty devilish situation. As to what to do about it, I guess the only response would be increasing lengths of suspensions. If he’s not allowed to box, he can’t make $$$. That would seem a deterrent enough.

DR. STUART KIRSCHENBAUM (Michigan State Boxing Commissioner Emeritus and advisor to the governor on boxing issues): As a former State Boxing Commissioner and Co-Founder of The Association of Boxing Commissions, I was an early pioneer in the testing of drugs in boxers. At the onset of testing, approximately 70 per cent of those tested were positive …mostly of the street environmental culture kind of cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis, morphine, heroin. These were taken not for performance enhancement but rather recreational use. For the most part, these drugs were PNED…Performance Non-Enhancement Drugs.  However, they were illegal and in an effort to clean up the negativity of the sport, boxers were punished with suspensions and still are.  I hate to say but looking back boxers and trainers were not sophisticated to even think of any pharmacological advantage of other PEDS available as are used in other sports.

JIM LAMPLEY (IBHOF inductee and long-time anchor of HBO broadcasting team): Point one is that this is way too simplistic a question for the breadth and complexity of the subject. I could write for days. Point two is I favor the application of VADA testing in every fight in every venue in every jurisdiction in the world. But I don’t have the authority to mandate that, no one does, and we would be required to manufacture dozens more Margaret Goodman’s, and it can’t be done. Point three is even if we did that testing, all our past experience with sordid street drugs, sophisticated pharmaceutical recreation, and PEDs should be sufficient by now to establish we will NEVER significantly diminish their use, much less end it, via punishment and penalty. The drugs and their effects are too strong for that to happen. Now the most important point: For fifty years now, the development of the PED story has always wrapped itself around the suspected glamour user of the moment: Marian Jones, Mark McGwire, Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds. Never is enough attention paid to the sources of the supply, the global pipeline, the massive profit motive, and the degree to which all the inner chambers of most sports have been penetrated. The history of PEDs is mostly codified episodically, so fans look past the discussion and accept what they are watching.  It grows and grows and globally.

So, what do I do with PED users?  Give them a league of their own? Fact is, many PED users are athletes whose perceived accomplishments have earned them audiences and people are still going to want to watch them perform. But the vital question is not what to do with them, but rather what to do with the damage they do to standards of competition. As usual, the real answers lie in all the things society finds too expensive, cumbersome and time-consuming to do: childhood education, extension of morality for morality’s sake, broad-based examination of the ecosystem that produces these behaviors, the provision and promotion of real opportunities and advantages for those who do things the right way. We keep looking for the quick fix. There is no quick fix.

“The worst thing possible hasn’t happened yet.”—Jim Lampley


RON LIPTON (world class boxing referee, former fighter, boxing historian, retired police officer): Once revealed and the report confirmed, their scheduled bout would be cancelled. A hearing would ensue and if the evidence merits it, a suspension would follow. Upon an application to return to the ring, a clean bill of health under the most reputable scrutiny would be mandated.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE (author, boxing writer and UK Barrister): It should be treated quite severely relative to other sports. It is one thing to take drugs to run faster than another human being but quite another when it gives an athlete an advantage in regard to strength and endurance when participating in a combat sport. Bearing this mind, a suggested five-year ban or even a life-time ban should not appear draconian. Admittedly, such a policy needs to be predicated on a watertight, evenly applied regime of testing. The defense of contaminated supplements is one that has plausibility but is at the same time one that is clearly rife with abuse. Also, as the recent positive test of Canelo Alvarez demonstrates, double-standards abound. The universal application of USADA-style all-year-round testing as applied in the UFC would be a step in the right direction for boxing.

PAUL MAGNO (author, writer and Mexican boxing official): I suspect that many, many people in boxing don’t want to really know who is dirty and who isn’t. If we got a real testing program going, lots of money would be lost by lots of boxing big shots. If boxing is serious about monitoring for PEDs, however, they need universal, 24-7/365 random testing and some sort of commission in place to actually uphold clear and consistent punishment for offenses. Obviously, in the here and now, PEDs cheats should face some sort of suspension and fine. But it’s all meaningless unless these dirty fighters are actually held accountable for their actions– and that’s just not the case right now. State commissions should step up and do the heavy lifting in this regard. Then again, if commission PEDs testing is spotty and useless and fighter/promoter-directed voluntary testing is less than 100% reliable, how can we really punish ANYONE? The system is broken here and, I suspect, conveniently so.

LARRY MERCHANT (legendary retired member of the HBO broadcasting team):  Prizefighting is largely about risk and reward. Whatever the reward of using PEDs — and Dr. Margaret Goodman once told me that not a single fighter she knew who tested positive had leaped forward in punching power or class — there should be heightened risk. Baseball has it about right: half a season (half a year in boxing) for the first test failure, a full season (year)  for the second, banishment for a third. Failure a second or third time, anyway, suggests a degree of knuckle-headedness that even regular knuckleheads can’t imagine. The guy needs help of another kind.


 “ We need more guys…willing to voluntarily submit to the most rigorous drug-protocols. And those who don’t and get nailed need to find out it wasn’t worth the risk. I’m not sure boxing commissions have stepped up to that responsibility yet.”—Larry Merchant

“I mean, this is a physical sport and you can get hurt and end up dead…”Carlos Molina

ERNESTO MORALES (former boxer and boxing writer): During my involvement in the game over the years I’ve personally known a few cheats, a small few, both pros and amateurs. Some willfully have chosen to take the risk of cheating but not all. Some we’re induced/convinced or fallen victim to the exhortations of their trainers, with their managers also having FULL knowledge, to the point to where they themselves were shelling out the $$$ for this disgraceful crime. This is one side that is NEVER considered nor ever mentioned when fighters test positive. Did Margarito cheat by himself? Of course not!

Now what should be done? It all depends. If he is a champ he should be dealt with tough justice. HEAVY fines and EFFECTIVE suspensions, BOTH. He has no excuse and chances are his stain on the game has a more negative effect, first offender or not. Other offenders should also be punished with fines/suspensions or both. The examples have to be set and the lines drawn. Sadly, the trainers who are in on it will never get sanctioned. Now, most trainers do NOT condone this dirt BUT it is true that a very small few actually do. It pains me say that.

TED SARES (TSS boxing writer): Six months; 18 months; life-time ban. Three strikes and you’re out. I also agree with Paul Magno that the system is broken at the state level with too many political hacks//appointees on commissions. Also, three-time offenders should never be inducted into the IBHOF. One of my favorite quotes comes from former Bad Left Hook colleague Brent Brookhouse:  “…it’s not testing from an agency like VADA that is flawed; it’s the sport of boxing from the bottom up. It’s on the promoters and the fighters. It’s on the commissions. It’s on the networks who don’t demand better. It’s on the media, all too happy to play nice and get their generic five minute ‘exclusive interviews’ rather than rock the boat. And, it’s on fans who don’t say that they’re sick of the transparent garbage from everyone in the game.” SAD.

ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY (former world light heavyweight title challenger, trainer, commentator):  If it is proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that a person willingly took a performance-enhancing drug then I have no problem with him being banned for life. You let it be known well in advance that this is the penalty and let the chips fall where they may. Now I understand that sometimes people can take things without knowing it, so it’s a slippery slope, but if it could be proven that the person took something willingly, a lifetime ban is no problem with me

Observations and Comments:

I invited several boxers to participate and they declined. That’s understandable. If weight lifters were asked the same question, they too might not want to respond. That being said, Jim Lampley’s response was one that hit on all cylinders.

There was a consensus that boxing commissions were remiss by not stepping up to the plate. Some (me included) suggested the system is broken. Also, there was a consensus that the penalties should be stiff as the distinction between boxing and other sports was made clear.

In the end, just about every abuser has a lame excuse—contaminated meat is the go-to excuse these days– and just about every abuser returns to fight another day. But clearly, the cumulative evidence of PED use has become troubling.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest full power lifters (and Strongman competitors) in the world and is a four-time winner of the EPF’s Grand Master championship. He also is a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Ralph `Tiger’ Jones, Conqueror of Sugar Ray Robinson, was the Ultimate Gatekeeper

Bernard Fernandez



Ralph "Tiger" Jones

Being a gatekeeper, especially in boxing, can be a lonely and underappreciated function. And in the 1950s, a golden age for the sport, that might have been especially true for a highly competent but not-quite-elite middleweight named Ralph “Tiger” Jones, who fought so often on the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports’ Friday Night Fights that he came to be known as “Mr. Television,” a sobriquet he shared with another frequent face of the relatively new medium, comedian Milton Berle.

Jones, who was 66 when he passed away on July 17, 1994, is not enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The Brooklyn-born, Yonkers, N.Y.-based scrapper has never even appeared on the IBHOF ballot. Then again, why should he have been? His career record of 52-32-5, with only 13 victories inside the distance, isn’t particularly impressive, unless you take a closer look at the who’s who list of guys with whom he shared the ring. He holds victories over, among others, IBHOF Hall of Famers Sugar Ray Robinson, Joey Giardello and Kid Gavilan (Giardello and Gavilan each defeated him twice), and he gave such capable and even world-class fighters as Gene Fullmer (twice), Laszlo Papp, Bobo Olson, Johnny Saxton (twice), Joey Giambra (twice), Rocky Castellani (twice), Paul Pender, Johnny Bratton, Rory Calhoun (twice), Joe DeNucci (thrice), Bobby Dykes, Chico Vejar, Charlie Humez (twice), Victor Salazar, Ernie Durando and Del Flanagan all they could handle.

Given the high level of competition he so routinely faced, it is remarkable that the Tiger was stopped only once, and even that was a bit of an outlier, a one-round TKO against someone named Henry Burroughs on Jan. 13, 1951. Burroughs, who went 3-4 in an abbreviated professional career, quickly vanished from the fight scene, but for Jones, who had come in 9-0, the shocking defeat might have had the effect of instantly downgrading him from hot prospect to “opponent” and, ultimately, gatekeeper of a loaded 160-pound weight class. Interestingly, Jones had virtually toyed with Burroughs in winning a four-round unanimous decision only two months earlier.

There are those who insist that Jones’ most shining moment inside the ropes came when he stopped Dykes (career record: 120-23-8, with 57 KOs) on March 8, 1954, in Brooklyn when, well behind on points, he rallied to register two emphatic, outcome-shifting knockdowns in the 10th and final round. But even that keepsake triumph pales in comparison to what took place in Chicago Stadium on Jan. 19, 1955, when he presumably was served up as a sacrificial offering to the incomparable Sugar Ray Robinson. Sugar Ray, then 33, was in the early stages of a comeback after he failed to make it big as a tap dancer on a tour of Europe. Fighting for the first time in 2½ years, Robinson had stopped journeyman Joe Rindone in six rounds on Jan. 5, 1955, in Detroit, and the bout against Jones, an 8-1 underdog, was widely viewed as merely another step forward in the former welterweight and middleweight champion’s graduated path back to the superstar status he once held and almost everyone believed he would soon reclaim.

But the outcome that was anticipated by the in-house turnout of 7,282 and a national TV audience underwent a quick rewrite when Jones, who had lost his previous five bouts, was the aggressor in the opening stanza of the scheduled 10-rounder, which ended with the great Sugar Ray — who had come in with an incredible 132-3-2 record — bleeding from a cut to his nose. It was more of the same in round two, Jones adding to Robinson’s seepage when the living legend went back to his corner with another cut, to his right eyelid.

It should have been apparent to everyone, even then, that this was not going to be Sugar Ray’s night, and it wasn’t. Referee Frank Sikora submitted a scorecard favoring Jones by a 99-94 margin, with judges Ed Hintz and Howard Walsh seeing it as an even bigger rout for Jones, at 100-88 and 98-89. Years later, the punch-counters for CompuBox reviewed tape of the fight and determined that Tiger had connected on 322 of 407 (57 percent) to just 176 of 514 (34 percent) for Robinson.

But as is often the case when a legendary fighter is made to look something less than superhuman, the big story was not that Ralph “Tiger” Jones had won, but that a humbled Sugar Ray Robinson was now on his last legs, his nimble feet and fast hands left behind somewhere on nightclub stages in a far-away continent.

New York Journal American columnist Jimmy Cannon for all intents and purposes authored Sugar Ray’s boxing obituary in his paper’s Jan. 20 editions, opining that “There is no language spoken on the face of the earth in which you can be kind when you tell a man he is old and should stop pretending he is young … Old fighters, who go beyond the limits of their age, resent it when you tell them they’re through … what he had is gone. The pride isn’t. The gameness isn’t. The insolent faith in himself is still there … but the pride and the gameness and that insolent faith get in his way … He was marvelous, but he isn’t anymore.”

And this, from The Associated Press report of the fight: “The former welterweight and middleweight titleholder … who started his comeback after 30 months as a song-and-dance entertainer by kayoing Joe Rindone two weeks ago, was handed the worst beating of his career by Jones … Time and again Tiger drove Robinson into the ropes and mauled him pitifully.”

But as was the case with the false rumor in 1897 that novelist/humorist Samuel Clemens – better known by his pen name, Mark Twain — had passed away, any suggestion that Sugar Ray Robinson was finished as a top-tier fighter proved to be premature. The Sugar man held the middleweight championship five times in all, three of his title reigns coming after Cannon advised him in print that he was washed up.

“I never figure to win them all,” the battered Robinson said after taking his licking from Jones. “You’ve got to figure you’ll get beat somewhere along the line. I don’t want to quit. This was a test. Like my manager said, it was just too tough for a second fight on a comeback.”

And Jones?

He continued to get regular TV gigs because he was more skilled than many, doggedly determined to put on a good show and no day at the beach for any of the six world champions he fought on 10 different occasions. But he never got a shot at a world title, a cruel twist of fate for someone who not only had paid his membership dues in the school of hard knocks, but continued to pay them right up to the end, a 10-round, unanimous-decision loss to IBHOF Hall of Famer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Laszlo Papp of Hungary on March 21, 1962. Tiger was floored in three separate rounds, but true to his unyielding code of honor, he gutted it out to the final bell. His pride would not allow him to do otherwise.

As a child growing up in New Orleans and the son of police captain Jack Fernandez (career record: 4-1-1, 1 KO), a former welterweight of scant pro accomplishment whom I idolized as if he had been a world champion, it seemed to me that, if Tiger Jones didn’t appear every week on the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, he was in the featured bout at least every month or so. The best of the gatekeepers from that glorious era deserve at least some reflected glory for hanging in with their betters, and Jones holds a special place in my recollections along with, among others, Florentino Fernandez (I liked to pretend we were somehow related), Holly Mims and “Hammerin’” Henry Hank, the Detroit middleweight and light heavyweight who fought so often in New Orleans (18 times) that I chose to believe he was almost as local as Willie Pastrano, Ralph Dupas, Percy Pugh and Jerry Pellegrini. Hank, who was 62-30-4 with 40 KOs in a career that spanned from 1953 to ’72, was a virtual replica of the never-say-die Jones, never fighting for a widely recognized world title (he did drop a 15-round decision to Eddie Cotton for the Michigan version of the light heavyweight championship) and losing just once inside the distance, on a ninth-round stoppage by Bob Foster on Dec. 11, 1964, in Norfolk, Va.

Yeah, that would be the same Bob Foster who would go on to become one of the most accomplished 175-pound champions ever and was inducted into the IBHOF in 1990.

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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The Avila Perspective Chap. 30: A Day in L.A., Plant, Pacquiao, and More

David A. Avila




Every time it rains in L.A. I think about the Doors song “Riders in the Storm.”

On Sunday a brief window of dryness blanketed as I drove to downtown L.A. on freeways that were slightly emptier than normal with the L.A. Chargers playing the New England Patriots. I guess some people stayed home to watch it.

Freeway traffic plays a big part in any Californian’s life. But it’s rare that a boxing event is held on a Sunday. My destination that day was LA Live across the street from the Staples Center.

LA Live has a skating rink in the middle of the courtyard and people were milling around an hour before the boxing card was to begin at Microsoft Theater. The theater is a swanky building across the skating rink from the ESPN structure.

A guy resembling my nephew Giovanni is talking to a few people next to the Starbucks. As I walk closer the person is gone. Later, I would see that the same kid resembling my nephew is actually fighting on the large boxing card. About a dozen fights are listed on the boxing bout sheet.

The Microsoft Theater has gone through a name change since it was first opened in 2007. It used to be called the Nokia Theater. The large theater hosts the ESPYs, EMMYs, Grammys and American Music Awards. But it’s no stranger to boxing events. A few fight cards have been held in its confine.

Crowds gathered early for the Premier Boxing Champions boxing card and by 5 p.m. it filled up pretty good.

One of the earliest boxing champions to arrive as a viewer was Mikey Garcia with several other young boxers and their entourages. The four division world champ has a date with Errol Spence Jr. in a couple of months. Spence arrived to watch the LA fight card a little later.

Title Fight

The main event featured Caleb Plant challenging the dangerous IBF super middleweight titlist Jose Uzcategui.

Plant has always shown he had skills and athleticism inside the boxing ring. But you can have all the tools in the world and it doesn’t mean a thing. What it really comes down to is can you take a punch from a puncher? Uzcategui can punch.

The Tennessee native has a pretty hefty following and they were loud in support of the slick fighting Plant. During the first six rounds it was like watching a concert with girls standing and cheering. But when the tide turned and Uzcategui began finding the antidote for Plant’s slickness, the same crowd was deadly quiet.

Plant is an entertainer. He can’t help himself. But he’s a classy kind of guy and fans genuinely like him. He can also fight.

Despite an undefeated record Plant had never truly established he belonged on the A list. He has A list skills but had never beaten an elite fighter until Sunday. He beat a good one and fans were thoroughly engrossed.

After their entertaining bloody clash you would have thought the two warriors would be red hot with anger. But instead, the two were like old chums and gracious after their 12-round battle. It kind of reminded me of long ago when two late greats Aaron Pryor and Alexis Arguello battled twice in the early 1980s. Those two great warriors became great friends and propelled the sport of boxing to greater heights and awareness. Later, Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward did the same in the early 2000s. It’s the beauty of boxing.

In the locker room Plant told Uzcategui they ought to share some Modelos soon. That got a big laugh and hug from the Venezuelan fighter who trains in Mexico. There were no hard feelings, just a lot of bruises and cuts.

Super middleweights may be the new showcase division.

A few possible opponents were in the crowd including David Benavidez, the current WBC titlist. A match with Plant or even a rematch with Uzcategui would bring an even bigger crowd. The super middleweights are heating up. There’s a lot of talent now in the 168-pound division including James DeGale, Callum Smith and George Groves in the United Kingdom and Gilberto Ramirez of Mexico. Hey, it’s even possible to see Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in the super middleweight division if the money is right.

I can’t wait to see the next super middleweight world title matchup.

El Cholos

When the fight card was over we walked across Figueroa Avenue to the Mexican restaurant famous for its margaritas. El Cholos has been around since the 1920s and has expanded to almost a dozen eateries in Southern California. I wish they had one in Las Vegas which does not have a good sit down Mexican restaurant.

El Cholos has become a favorite destination for me following boxing cards in L.A. After the fights several boxing reporters joined me for dinner including Muhammad Mubarak, Anthony Saldana and his wife Cynthia Saldana, Nancy Rodriguez from Supreme Boxing and Daniel who works with them and others. Usually my good friends from the Japanese press join us and long-time photographer Al Applerose, but not on this occasion. Still, we spent a couple of hours there and even ran into an old friend, Liz Quevedo Parr. As an amateur fighter she dominated two divisions for Team USA and now owns a gym in Long Beach called Guv’Nors Boxing Club. She recently had a cover page write up in OC Weekly.

At El Cholos we talked about Plant, Spence, Garcia and Benavidez. We also talked about women’s boxing especially Maricela Cornejo who is managed by Nancy Rodriguez. Both have movie star looks. Cornejo will be fighting in about 12 days in Hollywood at the Avalon Theater. Another female we discussed is Kenia Enriquez who fights out of Tijuana, Mexico. She’s very good.

The Lakers were playing across the street and I expected a rush of fans following the game. But the Lakers lost that night so fans must have been disgruntled and left quickly to their respective homes. Rain was threatening too. We can’t drive in the rain.

Eating and drinking with other journalists is one of the joys of being a fight reporter. Who better to talk about boxing than people that actually know the sport? Only in L.A., New York or Philadelphia can you find plenty of fans that actually know boxing and its politics. Over the years I’ve met some truly knowledgeable fight fans throughout Southern California.

Pacman and Broner

We’re heading to Las Vegas on Thursday, first to see Layla McCarter headline a Mayweather Promotions card that night at the MGM Grand. Tickets are free and it’s a hefty boxing card featuring many fighters from Floyd Mayweather’s stable.

McCarter is the best female fighter in the world pound for pound. Nobody has beaten her in 11 years and she’s fought in numerous countries around the world. Do you know how hard that is to accomplish? Ask any fighter.

Friday is a weigh-in for the Showtime pay-per-view card and I’m curious to see how many fans show up.

It’s been a while since Manny Pacquiao last fought in Las Vegas. Back on November 2016 he battled Jessie Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center. On Saturday, Pacquiao will face Adrien Broner for the WBA welterweight world title at the MGM Grand. Showtime will have it on pay-per-view.

Every time I see Pacquiao I remember first watching him at the Wild Card gym almost 20 years ago. Freddie Roach kept telling a few of us to watch out for the lefty Filipino kid. Right from the start he proved to be deadly accurate. Pacquiao, now 40, has exceeded all my expectations and out-lasted everyone from that era.

I remember years ago in 2003 talking outside on the parking lot of the Olympic Auditorium. It was still light outside on a summer night and Freddie saw me and a couple of reporters and walked up to talk about his first experience in the Philippines training Pacquiao. He was still overwhelmed by the experience. Later that night Pacquiao would obliterate Emmanuel Lucero in the third round with a vicious uppercut. Even though I knew Pacman was very good I would have never predicted his longevity in a sport that usually spits out good fighters in 10 years.

On Saturday we will see how much the Filipino super star still has left in his legs. Hopefully on the drive to Las Vegas it won’t rain or snow.

Photo credit: Luis Mejia / TCB Promotions

Fights to watch

Fri. 5 p.m. PT DAZN – Jorge Linares vs Pablo Cano; Amanda Serrano vs Eva Voraberger; Demetrius Andrade vs Artur Akavov.

Fri. 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 PM ET ESPN* Bryant Jennings (24-2) vs Oscar Rivas (25-0).

Sat. 6 p.m. PT Showtime pay-per-view – Manny Pacquiao vs Adrien Broner; Badou Jack vs. Marcus Browne; Rau’shee Warren vs Nordine Oubaali; Jhack Tepora vs Hugo Ruiz.

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Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan on April 20th…Let the Hype Begin

Arne K. Lang



Crawford vs Khan

Co-promoters Bob Arum and Eddie Hearn staged a press conference today (Tuesday, Jan. 15) at London’s elegant Landmark Hotel to announce that Terence Crawford will defend his WBO welterweight title on April 20 against Amir Khan. The timing was rather odd as the venue is unsettled — Madison Square Garden and the MGM Grand are the frontrunners – but as Arum would likely tell you, it’s never too early to marinate the hype. The bout will mark ESPN’s initial foray into the world of solo event pay-per-view.

Amir Khan first came to the fore at the 2004 Beijing Olympics where at the tender age of 17 he advanced to the gold medal round in the lightweight division. In the finals he met Mario Kindelan, a 33-year-old Cuban who was described by the British coach Terry Edwards as “the best pound for pound fighter in the world, maybe amateur and professional.”

Khan was outpointed but that didn’t diminish his stature. “Britain has lost its tether over him,” wrote Mark Whicker in the Orange County Register who noted that the Khan-Kindelan match was shown on the big screen at Trafalgar Square under a sign that read Amir-zing.

Khan went on to defeat Kindelan twice in amateur bouts before turning pro amidst great fanfare in July of 2005. Two years later, almost to the day, he climbed off the deck to wrest the British Empire lightweight title from Scotland’s Willie Limond.

Needless to say, Khan, who is of Pakistani descent, has had his ups and downs since that moment. The first thud came in September of 2008 in Manchester when Columbia’s unheralded Breidis Prescott (who by the way has lost seven of his last eight) knocked him out in the first round. Khan was knocked down hard 30 seconds into the fight and it was all over in 54 seconds.

The fight, wrote Tom Cary in the London Telegraph, “confirmed the suspicion that the most hyped boxer in Britain since Prince Naseem Hamed cannot take a punch….This defeat was an accident waiting to happen.”

Khan rebounded nicely. He won the WBA 140-pound title with a 76-second blowout of Dmitriy Salita and defended it four times before losing the belt on a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson. But since the Peterson fight he has been stopped twice, first by Danny Garcia and then Canelo Alvarez.

The Kahn-Canelo fight, contested at the catchweight of 155 pounds, was the first boxing event at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. And it played out as many expected with Khan having his moments before he was betrayed by a soft beard. Canelo, the bigger man although both came in at the same weight, lowered the boom in round six with a devastating right hand, a classic one-punch knockout that left Khan on the canvas for several minutes before he was removed to a hospital as a precaution.

Khan took 23 months off after this setback and during this hiatus he became even more famous in England. He hired a publicist who booked him on the TV show “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here,” a British version of the TV show “Survivor,” and fed the tabloids and gossip magazines a steady stream of folderol regarding Amir’s supposedly tempestuous relationship with his attractive Brooklyn-born wife, the former Faryal Makhdoom. Khan’s conservative Muslim parents were horrified by Faryal’s westernized ways and both accused the other of infidelity. They toned it down when Faryal became pregnant with their second child, a daughter born in April of last year.

That same month, Khan returned to the ring with a 33-second knockout of Toronto’s overmatched Phil Lo Greco. In September he took on another Toronto-based fighter, Samuel Vargas, against whom he won a wide 12-round decision. Those wins pumped up his record to 33-4 (20).

Unlike Amir Khan, it’s doubtful that Terence Crawford will ever transcend his sport, but you don’t have to sell Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) to knowledgeable boxing fans who recognize that he is something special, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport today.

This fight will be a nice payday for Khan who lives lavishly and we suspect it will be an interesting fight for as long as it lasts. Against Canelo Alvarez, Khan was ahead in the eyes of most ringsiders and in the eyes of one of the judges through the five completed rounds. But the operative phrase here is “as long as it lasts.”

Let the hype begin.

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