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The Hauser Report: Jermell and Jermall Charlo on Fox

Thomas Hauser

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Charlo

On December 22, the Charlo twins – Jermell and Jermall – fought Tony Harrison and Matt Korobov at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Charlos are 28 years old and have been fighting professionally for ten years.

Jermell entered the ring with a 31-0 (15 KOs) record and was the reigning WBC 154-pound beltholder. He shone brightly in a first-round demolition of Erickson Lubin last year.

Jermall had compiled a 27-0, (21 KOs) record. He previously held the IBF 154-pound title and now campaigns as a middleweight. A 2016 decision over a faded Austin Trout was the most notable victory on his ring ledger.

Everything seems personal for the Charlos. It’s hard to imagine either brother outsourcing revenge to the other (as Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko did on several occasions) and finding satisfaction in payback that wasn’t beaten out with his own fists.

Jermell vs. Tony Harrison and Jermall vs. Matt Korobov were thought to be stay-busy Christmas presents for the Charlos. Neither brother gives an opponent much to work with. They’re good defensive fighters who strike swiftly when opportunity beckons. Jermell was a 10-to-1 betting favorite over Harrison while Jermall was listed at 20-to-1 over Korobov.

Several disquieting themes underlay the promotion. The first of these revolved around the fact that, on November 1, both Charlos “missed” tests that were to be administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) pursuant to the WBC Clean Boxing Program. Initially, the New York State Athletic Commission sought to distance itself from the issue, saying that the WBC-VADA tests were “separate from the New York State Athletic Commission’s Rules & Regulations.” But that was an untenable position.

Piecing together from multiple sources what happened next, the NYSAC then asked the Charlos for a more detailed explanation of why they’d missed their tests and failed to answer their cellphones on November 1. Previously, Jermall had tweeted that the brothers had been doing “promotional stuff.” But the commission didn’t get an adequate response. Instead, it was suggested from above that the commission back off on requiring the Charlos to document the reason why they’d missed the tests and, instead, administer new tests. In today’s world of microdosing, this passes for a bad joke. And the joke became even less funny when the NYSAC had one brother’s test administered by Quest Diagnostics and the other brother’s test administered by Lab Corp.

Quest Diagnostics and Lab Corp can tell the difference between blood and urine. But they don’t do state-of-the-art testing (such as carbon isotope ratio testing) for banned performance enhancing drugs.

On December 14, Greg Leon of Boxing Talk interviewed Tony Harrison and told him, “I’ve got to ask what you think about the Charlo’s, who have two different coaches, missing drug tests on the same day?”

Harrison gave a vague response.

“Allow me to ask the question in a different way,” Leon pressed. “If you were the champion, would you ever defend your title against a challenger who missed a drug test?”

“No,” Harrison answered. “Honestly, I would not. It leaves too much of a gray area. I wouldn’t do it, but it’s out of my hands. There’s literally nothing I can do. I just have to take it for how it is, man, the life of being a B-side fighter.”

Then, on December 15, it was revealed that Willie Monroe Jr, who’d been scheduled to fight Jermall Charlo on December 22, had tested positive after taking a banned supplement called Nugenix (a testosterone booster). Monroe was removed from the card and replaced by Matt Korobov, which sent the message that, in New York, fighters who might be dirty should simply miss tests and they’ll be allowed to fight.

Four years ago, the New York State Athletic Commission said that it wouldn’t license Korobov to box because of what it termed a congenital brain condition. Some other jurisdictions don’t consider this particular condition to be a potential danger and, subsequent to New York’s decision, granted Korobov a license to box. To date, the NYSAC has refused to explain when it changed its standard on this issue and the reason for the change.

Finally, when asked about Monroe at a December 19 media workout, Jermall and Jermell Charlo engaged in what one might consider an exercise in hypocrisy.

“Cheaters never win,” Jermall offered.

Jermell was more expansive, proclaiming, “They should suspend him from boxing. Monroe shouldn’t be allowed to come back. I’m glad they was able to catch this beforehand. It sucks that someone would cheat, and they know that they’re cheating. We need the sport to be cleaned up. Take all his bread. Take them away from the sport. They shouldn’t be allowed back. They should be banned for life and probably sentenced to a jail sentence or something. Yeah, send their ass to jail!”

Bottom line: Jermall Charlo vs. Matt Korobov at Barclays Center on December 22 matched a fighter who missed a PED test in November under questionable circumstances against a fighter who, four years ago, was unable to obtain a license to box in New York because of a congenital brain condition.

When fight night arrived, Jermell Charlo vs. Tony Harrison was a tedious tactical encounter. Harrison fought much of the bout like a man who would be happy to survive for twelve rounds, pick up his paycheck, and go home. The general consensus was that Jermell won nine of the twelve rounds. Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced that there was a unanimous decision and read the three judges’ scorecards: 116-112 (Robin Taylor), 115-113 (Ron McNair), and 115-113 (Julie Lederman). That left people wondering how two judges could each have given Harrison five rounds. The wonderment then turned to disbelief when Lennon uttered the words “And the new WBC super-welterweight champion of the world . . .”

Ironically, the Charlo-Harrison decision went against the house fighter. This suggests that poor judging rather than corruption was at its core.

In the nightcap, Jermall Charlo pounded out a unanimous decison victory over Matt Korobov by a 119-108, 116-112, 116-112 margin. Jermall won the fight, but 119-108 was off the mark.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the December 22 fight card was that it marked the inaugural telecast of boxing under a recently-negotiated contract between Premier Boxing Champions and Fox.

On September 5, 2018, PBC and Fox announced a four-year-deal that calls for the Fox broadcast network to air ten “marquee” fight cards per year with an additional twelve cards being shown annually on FS1 and Fox Deportes. The announcement held out the promise of championship-caliber boxing on a free platform. Thus, a lot of fight fans were disappointed on November 13 when Fox announced its fight schedule through March 16, 2019.

The two Charlo fights were joined on December 22 with a 20-to-1 match-up between Dominic Breazeale and Carlos Negron. January 26, 2019, will feature Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez with the odds currently favoring Thurman by 10-to-1. Virtually all of the PBC-Fox main events announced to date have what amounts to a designated winner and a designated loser.

Let’s draw an analogy to another sport. Fox televises Big Ten college football. The schedule for the first four months of its boxing series is equivalent to televising Michigan vs. Rutgers and Ohio State vs. Minnesota again and again and never getting to Penn State vs. Wisconsin or Michigan vs. Ohio State.

The core of the Fox commentating team handled itself well during the first telecast. There were too many voices. But Kenny Albert handled blow-by-blow chores smoothly. Joe Goossen and Ray Mancini have been in the trenches. And Lennox Lewis adds dignity and class to anything he touches.

The use of Larry Hazzard as Fox’s “rules expert and unofficial scorer” raises an interesting issue. Harold Lederman resigned as a ring judge in New York when he took a commentating position with HBO. So did Steve Weisfeld when Weisfeld worked as a rules expert for HBO. Hazzard is commissioner of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. And his son, Larry Hazzard Jr, was the judge who scored Charlo-Korobov 119-108 in favor of Jermall.

But for boxing fans, the more important issue is this:

For all the money that’s being put into the system now by Fox, ESPN, DAZN, and Showtime, we should be seeing better fights than we’re seeing. Each of the networks maintains that quality control is built into its respective output deal with its favored promoter or promoters.  But in today’s world, when “quality control” is measured in terms of “championship” belts and top-ten rankings, it means nothing.

Championship belts are dispensed today like chocolates from a vending machine. There’s a never-ending supply of bogus beltholders and undeserving “mandatory” challengers for elite fighters to fight.

Thus, 2018 is ending on a bittersweet note. There’s more boxing on television and streaming video now than ever before. But sadly, there are fewer great fights. And that’s unlikely to change in the near future. Every promoter, TV network, and sanctioning body of note has its own fiefdom (or “league,” if you will) that it’s anxious to protect to the overall detriment of the sport. If baseball were run like boxing, there wouldn’t have been a World Series this year. Instead, the Boston Red Sox would have been declared “American League World Champions,” the Los Angeles Dodgers would have been designated “National League World champions,” and baseball would be a niche sport.

Thomas Hauser’s new email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. 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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Chris Arreola is Back!

Ted Sares

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Chris Arreola

Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola is an emotional and very likable guy. Over the course of his career, there have been ups and downs providing the grist for a compelling story if one were inclined to write it. He’ll kiss a beaten opponent (Joey Abell) or cry if beaten (Vitali Klitschko) and his language during a post-fight interview is, well it’s special.

After his corner stopped the fight following the 10th round with Klitschko, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, he thanked the fans (as is his wont) and later, while being interviewed in the ring, said  “F–k that, I’m coming back.”

It was his first loss after 26 straight wins out of the professional gate. For that “terrible” indiscretion, he was punished by the selectively politically correct World Boxing Council. WBC president José Sulaimán proposed a six months ban for vulgar language and the ban was approved by the WBC Board of Governors.

Arreola, who rarely uses filters, was brutally candid again after his first round KO over Erik Molina in 2012. The Nightmare cut loose on Don King, Molina’s promoter, calling him a “f—ing a–hole and a racist,” causing Showtime’s Jim Gray to  terminate the post-fight interview forthwith. “Honestly Don King called me a wetback, and other Mexicans,” Arreola told Fightnews.com. “That’s a strong word. It’s like me dropping N bombs. You don’t say things like that.”

No ban this time.

Arreola’s weight varies but when he is fit and ready (and under 250), he is a very dangerous heavyweight, especially in the early rounds. Once he has his opponent hurt, there are few boxers who can close as well as this Southern California Mexican American tough guy who was an accomplished amateur fighter and knows his way around the ring.

His level of opposition has been stiff. In fact, his five losses have been to fighters who have held world titles at one time or another. Bermane Stiverne had Chris’s number and beat him twice—the second time by way of a nasty knockout. However, he has a number of solid wins over the likes of Malcom Tann, Chazz Witherspoon, Travis Walker, Jameel McCline, Brian Minto, Curtis Harper –yes, that Curtis Harper who gave Chris all he could handle — and many others who came in with fine records. His first round blowout of once promising Seth Mitchell was quintessential Arreola. Mitchell retired after the fight.

In July 2016, The Nightmare was stopped by Deontay Wilder in yet another title bid but he did not disgrace himself. He then took off for over two years to assess whether he wanted to continue. Boxing fans pretty much forgot about him. Few took notice when he came back to stop the very stoppable Maurenzo Smith on the Wilder-Fury undercard on Dec. 1 of last year.

Fast Forward

Last weekend, on the undercard of the huge Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia PPV fight in Dallas, “The Nightmare” was matched against unbeaten but unheralded Jean Pierre Augustin (17-0-1).

Chris, now 38, came in at a svelte 237 pounds and looked fit and ready to go. The weary look on Augustin’s face during the announcement said it all. True to form, Arreola was in blowout mode and stopped the Haitian who simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Arreola wobbled Augustin with a brutally hard jab that connected flush to his face in the third round. After more heavy shots, a bloodied Augustin went down and upon getting up, was battered until the referee halted matters. Chris closed things like he had done on so many other occasions and in front of millions of fans tuning in around the world.

With a female interviewer, the elated “Nightmare” was polite during the post-fight ceremonies and, holding his daughter, signaled that he is BACK! That’s good news for boxing fans because when Chris Arreola is fit and focused, he is entertaining and very competitive.

With a current record of 38-5-1 with 2 ND (the “no-contests” resulting from Chris‘s apparent affinity for non-medicinal marijuana), a fight with someone like Adam Kownacki would be a boxing fan’s dream.

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and Strongman competitors and plans to compete in at least three events in 2019. He is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

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Nobody Wants to Fight Dillian Whyte

Kelsey McCarson

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Dillian Whyte

Dillian Whyte is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world. The 30-year-old is a former British heavyweight titleholder, a former kickboxing prodigy and an undefeated mixed martial artist. Overall, Whyte’s professional fighting record is a sterling 46-2. He’s 25-1 as a boxer, 20-1 as a K1 kickboxer and 1-0 as an MMA fighter.

So while the battle rages on between various television networks and streaming platforms over securing the top talent in the heavyweight division, one that includes Tyson Fury signing a multi-fight deal with ESPN and Deontay Wilder reportedly mulling over his future with PBC, perhaps something just as important right now is that the single most dangerous and deserved heavyweight contender in the world remains without a dance partner for his next fight.

Never mind Whyte being the No. 1 ranked contender by the World Boxing Council. That sanctioning body instead deemed Dominic Breazeale the mandatory challenger to Wilder’s WBC title after the potential rematch between Wilder and Fury fell by the wayside.

Here’s all that needs to be said about that grift. Breazeale only had to defeat Eric Molina to get his mandatory title shot while the WBC wanted Whyte to face Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz, one of the top heavyweights in the sport.

And nobody seems to care that Whyte gave unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua the toughest test of his career (this side of Wladimir Klitschko anyway), when the two squared off in 2015 for the British and Commonwealth titles. Despite the obvious talent gap between the two fighters, Whyte gave the young Joshua just about all the former Olympic champion could handle in a seven-round war.

To hear Whyte tell the story, promoter Eddie Hearn must have intentionally lowballed Whyte for the proposed 2019 rematch in order to ensure Joshua could invade America on June 1 against the likely less dangerous Jarrell Miller. That makes sense for Joshua from a monetary perspective, but it doesn’t do the same in terms of true competitiveness.

According to various reports, Whyte is currently considering a multi-fight deal to appear on ESPN, a move that would give the British battler a path to facing Fury who some consider the lineal heavyweight champion. Fury recently signed a multi-fight deal to be co-promoted by Bob Arum for appearances on the U.S.-based television network ESPN. It’s the move that shelved a potential Wilder rematch and also opened up a huge can of worms in regards to what kinds of fights Fury might actually be able to secure. Currently, the Top Rank-promoted stable of heavyweights is best characterized by fighters who don’t really move the needle in regards to title challenges, fighters like Oscar Rivas, Bryant Jennings and Kubrat Pulev.

Overall, though, the main problem about the heavyweight landscape is that there are three heavyweights who all have a claim to being heavyweight champion. IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua is promoted by Hearn and exclusive to DAZN. WBC champ Wilder is attached to the PBC whose television partnerships include Showtime and Fox. Fury is set to embark on his own ESPN crusade. Long story short, these guys probably aren’t fighting each other anytime soon.

Worse is that while all three men are in desperate need of viable opponents, none have seemed all that interested in tussling with Whyte.

It’s no wonder. As good as Whyte has been over the course of his 7-year professional boxing career, the scariest thing about the fighter is that he always seems to be getting better. In his last two fights, Whyte outfought talented former titleholder Joseph Parker and knocked out gritty UK heavyweight Dereck Chisora. In defeating Parker, Whyte was facing someone absolutely in need of a win to maintain his status among heavyweight contenders. In beating Chisora, Whyte was in tough against an opponent he had only defeated by split-decision two years prior. Both wins illustrate just how far Whyte has come as a professional prizefighter.

As it stands, Whyte is the clear top contender among all heavyweights, especially among those who have not yet been granted a shot at a world title. He’s ranked No. 4 behind Joshua, Fury and Wilder by The Ring magazine and the same by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

The only question that remains is which title claimant will prove the toughest holdout. Whyte’s ultimate choice, in whether to stick with promoter Hearn on DAZN, link up with Arum and ESPN or continue playing the WBC shell game, will probably end up being tied to which path gets him the title shot that he so desperately craves first.

And it absolutely should happen. It’s one thing to crave title opportunities and another to have earned them. Whyte’s done both now, and it’s time for boxing fans and the media to take notice. Better yet, it’s time for Joshua, Fury and Wilder to pit themselves against their most dangerous competition. Since they’re not facing each other, Whyte become the next logical choice for any or all of them.

Because Dillian Whyte is one of the best heavyweight boxers in the world, and he’s done enough by now to warrant the chance to prove it.

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The Hauser Report: St. Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden

Thomas Hauser

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Conlan

Boxing’s three “major leagues” showed their respective wares this past weekend. On Friday night, DAZN presented a nine-bout card in conjunction with Matchroom USA. On Saturday, Fox and Premier Boxing champions teamed up for the Errol Spence vs. Mikey Garcia pay-per-view event. Then, on Sunday, ESPN and Top Rank had their turn in the form of a St. Patrick’s Day card at Madison Square Garden headed by Belfast native and former Olympian Michael Conlan.

The star of the show was St. Patrick, the fifth-century saint widely credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. In his honor, there were three Irishmen on the card: Conlan, flyweight Paddy Barnes, and welterweight Lee Reeves. That said; there was a Hispanic flavor to the proceedings. The sixteen combatants included Eduardo Torres, Victor Rosas, Juan Tapia, Ricardo Maldonado, Adriano Ramirez, Oscar Mojica, Joseph Adorno, John Bauza, Luis Collazo, Ruben Garcia Hernandez, and two Vargases (Josue and Samuel).

Irish-Americans have a record of supporting Irish fighters, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day. This was no exception. The announced crowd of 3,712 arrived early. During the final pre-fight press conference, Top Rank president Todd duBoef had paid homage to the fans, although he did voice the view that, on St. Patrick’s Day, “Their cognitive behavior is manipulated by the beer.”

On fight night, the in-arena music was chosen accordingly. What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor? was played twice over the Hulu Theater sound system.

There was also green lighting.

Lee Reeves (2-0, 2 KOs) of Limerick, Ireland, opened the show with a four-round decision over Edward Torres.

In the third bout of the evening, Vladimir Nikitin (2-0, 0 KOs) won a majority decision over Juan Tapia. Nikitin defeated Conlan in the quarter-finals at the 2016 Olympics. Presumably, they’ll fight again at a time of maximum opportunity for Conlan.

Flyweight Paddy Barnes (5-1, 1 KO) of Belfast was a teammate of Conlan’s at the 2016 Olympics but lost in the first round to Spain’s Samuel Carmona. On St. Patrick’s Day, Barnes was matched against Oscar Mojica (11-5-1), who had one career knockout and had gone 3-5-1 in his previous nine outings.

Mojica broke Barnes’s nose in round one and knocked him down with a body shot in the second stanza (although to the mystification of those in the press section, referee Danny Schiavone waved off the knockdown). It was a spirited outing in which both men were too easy to hit for their own good. Barnes rallied nicely in the second half of the bout and arguably did enough to win the decision. But two of the three judges thought otherwise, leading to a 58-56, 58-56, 56-58 verdict in Mojica’s favor.

In the next-to-last fight of the evening, Luis Collazo (38-7, 20 KOs) took on Samuel Vargas (30-4-2, 14 KOs).

Collazo now 37 years old, reigned briefly as WBA welterweight champion twelve years ago. Since then, he had cobbled together twelve victories (an average of one per year) against six losses in eighteen fights. Vargas had one win in his previous three outings and has never been able to get the “W” against a name opponent.

It was a phone booth fight, which worked to Collazo’s advantage because Luis’s legs aren’t what they once were. The decision could have gone either way. Two judges scored the bout 96-94; one for Collazo and the other for Vargas. Frank Lombardi turned in a wide-of-the-mark 98-92 scorecard in Collazo’s favor.

Then it was time for the main event.

Conlan (10-0, 6 KOs) is best known to boxing fans for having given the finger (two middle fingers, actually) to the judges after coming out on the short end of a decision in the second round of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. His skill set is better suited to the amateur than professional ranks. But his Irish heritage is a significant marketing plus. And Top Rank specializes in both savvy matchmaking and building narratives.

This was the third consecutive year that Conlan, now a featherweight, celebrated St. Patrick’s Day weekend by fighting at Madison Square Garden. His ringwalk was marked by Irish-themed pageantry. And Ruben Garcia Hernandez, his opponent, was tailor-made for him.

Conlon controlled the fight with his jab. Nothing much else happened. “Mick” emerged victorious 100-90 on all three judges’ scorecards. And the fans went home happy because their man won.

*     *     *

The sad news that New York Mets pitching great Tom Seaver is suffering from dementia and will retire from public life is a reminder that all people from all walks of life are susceptible to the condition, not just fighters.

Seaver was on the list of A+ athletes who rose to prominence in the 1960s when advances in television were redefining the sports experience. Muhammad Ali was at the top of that list. Years ago, sportswriter Dick Schaap told me about an evening he spent with Ali and Seaver.

“In 1969, the year the Mets won their first World Series,”Schaap reminisced, “I spent the last few days of the regular season with the team in Chicago. Ali was living there at the time. I was writing a book with Tom Seaver, and the three of us went out to dinner together. We met at a restaurant called The Red Carpet. I made the introductions. And of course, this was the year that Tom Seaver was Mr. Baseball, maybe even Mr. America. Ali and Tom got along fine. They really hit it off together. And after about half an hour, Ali in all seriousness turned to Seaver and said, ‘You know, you’re a nice fellow. Which paper do you write for?’”

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. 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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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