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Robert Guerrero Has Always Wanted To Fight the Best

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GuerreroAydin Hogan20If you want to know what happened to the best fighting the best in boxing, Robert Guerrero seems to know the answer. He is just looking for another fighter to think the same way.

When I met Robert Guerrero over three years ago and asked him who he wanted to fight, the confident 130 pounder said Manny Pacquiao, the same Manny who was fresh off of putting Oscar De la Hoya in retirement.

I thought… Well, let’s put it this way, I thought he had a lot of guts, because boxing is a political sport, and I was guilty of thinking politically.

“Why does Robert Guerrero deserve a fight with Manny?” was the first thought that came to my mind. “Pacquiao is too big and too strong,” was another one.

Yet, for all the political faults, mismatches, and bad decisions, in boxing, the sport has an old fashion quality of letting arguments linger.

(See Leonard/Hagler,Lewis/Tyson, Mayweather/Pacquiao)

Robert Guerrero has called out marquee names to fight for years. First it was Juan Manuel Marquez, then Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather,with no success.

In January of this year, Guerrero almost got his wish to fight Mayweather when I reported the potential Mayweather/Guerrero fight close to fruition.

That led to Mayweather calling the name of Manny Pacquiao, but Mayweather eventually fought Miguel Cotto, and it left Guerrero without a dance partner. Until last month, when Robert Guerrero moved up two weight classes to win a version of the welterweight title against Selcuk Aydin in front of hometown fans in San Jose, Ca.

After the victory at the post fight press conference, Guerrero spent more time challenging Floyd Mayweather than praising the performance he called “the toughest fight of his life.”

Guerrero said, “I have all of these titles but no one wants to fight. It's crazy, I have all of these titles and no one wants to fight.”

He said it twice. And it sounded strange, but everyone in the room understood. A statement like that carries weight in boxing.

Robert Guerrero has won many titles in multiple weight classes, including the welterweight one. But he is not the publicly recognized welterweight champion until he defeats Floyd Mayweather, or Manny Pacquiao. Guerrero gets it, so he continues to call their names out.

You can call it forward thinking for The Ghost. Or call it what The Joker likes to call, “A misplaced sense of self-righteousness.”

Call it what you want, the beauty of Guerrero is that his story never changes.

Here’s a look at some of the best quotes I got from Robert Guerrero over the years. You might notice a trend sounding like a broken record. Guerrero’s always wanted to fight the best. Check how this 35-month timeline sounds like a flowing conversation from one interview to the next.

January 4, 2009: In our first interview the 126 pound champion moving up for his first fight at 130 pounds dares to confront Manny Pacquiao, says he has the style to beat him.

RM:Well, who would you want to fight, if you had a choice?

RG:
Pacquiao would be my first choice. If you put two explosive lefties together it will be a war. I feel like I have the perfect style to beat him.

RM:
Why is that?

RG:
I have the speed and power. They say people are afraid to come in on Pacquiao, but I have fought a lot of lefties before. If you get a guy that could push Pacquiao back, then you have a real good fight.

RM: You have a point.Pacquiao has not fought many guys that can make him go backwards. If you could do that against him then it would definitely be an interesting fight.

RG: Yeah, Pacquiao has not fought a natural lefty with speed and power that could stand and trade with him,and also bring in side-to-side movement. I just feel like I have the style to beat him.

March 3, 2009

More Manny Pacquiao talk- this time Guerrero explains his motivations to be great…

RM: So if you got into the ring with Manny, it would be more of a pressure fight?

RG
: I would put a lot of pressure on him and throw a lot more punches than he is accustomed to. I also have a left-handed style that always makes it difficult.

RM
: Hey, speaking of motivation to fight the best, I have a question. When you get tired in the gym and want to push yourself to do that extra rep or extra sparring session, do you picture yourself fighting a guy like Manny Pacquiao? Or do you have some other type of motivation? How do you motivate yourself to work harder in the gym to be a great professional fighter?

RG: Wanting to be the best… Wanting to be the one of the greats in boxing forces me to dig down, suck it up, and push myself. In the long run, that is going to ultimately make me become a more skilled fighter, going the extra mile, and leaving no stone unturned.

June 1, 2009:

Guerrero turned his attention to the best at 130 & 135, mostly Juan Manuel Marquez…

Guerrero said:

“I have been wanted to get into some big fights for some time. I want to get a (Juan Manuel) Marquez fight. Humberto Soto is out there. There are a lot of big fighters out there, especially at 130 or 135 pounds.

August 6, 2011:

Guerrero says he is a throwback fighter and is willing to prove it… He agrees to fight feared 140-pound puncher, Marcos Maidana, in San Jose, Ca.

RM: So you are a five-time world champion in four different weight classes, right?

RG: Yes sir.

RM: And you have moved up four weight classes since 2008 and beaten everyone that you have faced. Is it frustrating when you do not see your name on many of the top ten pound for pound lists?

RG: It does get to me. But at the end of the day you have to keep on trucking. Every great champion has his day to get recognized. I just have to keep doing what I do. That is why I take fights like Marcos Maidana or Michael Katsidis. I am looking for the best fights out there. I am one of those throwback fighters who fight the best to be the best. I am not going to hide, duck, and run from everybody.

RM: Do you think that the best fighters are afraid of you?

RG: I think a lot of fighters take a big gamble and a big risk fighting me. It is the way it is. And that just adds fuel to my fire. If I keep doing what I do then the fans and the media are going to back these guys into a corner. Pretty soon they are going to be forced to fight me. You have seen it over the years, history does repeat itself, Ray. When everybody wants to see a fight it is going to happen.

RM: I don’t want to take anything away from the Maidana fight because I think fight will be exciting. But is there anyone that you would like to fight after a potential victory over Maidana?

RG: Everyone knows that fight, Manny Pacquiao. He is pound for pound the best fighter in boxing. I know Pacquiao does not run or duck from anybody. Like I said, I am one of those throwback fighters. I want to be the best. And if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.

RM: When I talk to you it sounds like I am speaking with a guy that just started boxing. You seem to have so much passion for the fight game. Why do you think that the fire is still strong inside of you?

RG: I love the sport so much. I grew up in a family of fighters. My grandfather was a fighter, my father, my uncles, and brothers were fighters. It is just a family tradition. To keep boxing alive you have to love it. That is what lacks in boxing, the champions that do not want to fight the fights that they should be fighting. And it turns a lot of fans off. I loved boxing when I was a kid because you would see the best fighting the best. And that is the way it should be.

November 19, 2011:

Two months after pulling out of a fight with Marcos Maidana because of a shoulder injury that required surgery, Robert Guerrero decided to move up to welterweight and call out the name of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Multiple press releases, articles, and interviews followed. Guerrero and his team were pushing for a Mayweather fight like no one before.

RM: I have seen you call out a lot of fighters in the past. But not many fighters have gone to the lengths you have to call out Floyd Mayweather. Everyone wants to fight him. But you are doing it differently. There are press releases talking about the potential fight, predictions from boxing experts, and you have gone on talk shows to call him out. What makes this fight any different from the other challenges you have made?

RG: You know Floyd is the ultimate challenge. He is the best fighter in boxing right now hands down. And I am like those throwback fighters man, I want to fight the best. Every time I call out the best like Marquez,Pacquiao, or Khan, none of them want to fight. We are approaching this challenge like ‘Hey, let’s make it happen. I know he set that date. Cinco de Mayo. I am Mexican-American right here. Let’s do it.’

RM: No doubt. I have seen you fight. And you do a lot of great things in the ring. But the nature of this interview is for me to play devil’s advocate. What makes you think that you could beat a fighter that has never been beaten?

RG: I have a lot of faith in my ability. I believe I could beat anybody in the world. If you go into the ring without confidence, it haunts you. A guy like Floyd Mayweather, who is intelligent in the ring, takes advantage of weaknesses like that. I am that type of guy that is here to fight. I am here to take care of business. Nobody intimidates me. I ain’t scared of anybody. I go in the ring to win the fight. I don’t go in there just to fight.

RM: Do you think some of Floyd’s recent opponents just went in the ring to survive?

RG: You have to have a killer instinct. You have seen me fight. I go in with a killer instinct. Some people doubt themselves. Floyd has the utmost confidence in himself. That is why he is so dominant. That is why he hasn’t lost a fight. I am 100% confident in myself.

RM: You have to go in 100% confident right?

RG: Yeah, you have to be. The one thing I love is doubters. When I am the underdog I step up. I am a playmaker. When it is time to make that play, I am there. I will hit that home run.

RM: So, you want to fight the best. And Floyd is the man with the guts to take you on. Is that how it boils down?

RG: He says he takes on all challengers. Everything is there to make that big fight. I could sell a big fight. The last fight I was supposed to have with Maidana was a sellout. It is all there for us to make a big fight with me and Floyd Mayweather.

RM: What's your prediction for that fight, maybe a knockout?

RG: With me and Floyd?

RM: Yeah.

RG: Who knows? I believe in myself. I believe I could knock him out. Anything could happen in boxing. If you believe in yourself and have faith, anything could happen.

RM: Do you expect Floyd to accept your challenge? Or do you think he is not really paying attention?

RG: I know he is paying attention. Floyd Mayweather would not be pound for pound best fighter in the world if he wasn’t paying attention. Even when he retired he was paying attention. I am expecting him to take on the challenge.

RM: Do you have a message for Floyd Mayweather?

RG: Yeah, the only way this fight will not be made is if he doesn’t want it.

…..

The boxing public is witnessing the growth in Robert Guerrero. It just took a bit longer than he might have expected.

Now, when Guerrero shouts at Mayweather, Pacquiao, (or most recently Adrian Broner,) it’s front-page boxing news. In the past, Guerrero built his campaign on guts for calling out the best, now he does it with clout.

You can follow Ray Markarian on Twitter @raymarkarian

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AJ Needs to Look Good Against Povetkin, but the Russian Won’t be a Free Ride

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Golovkin broadcast

During the Canelo-Golovkin broadcast last weekend, it was mentioned that the two biggest star fighters in boxing were Canelo Alvarez and WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua. Canelo, the newly crowned middleweight champion, was in need of a signature win over a marque opponent to strengthen his claim and Joshua is in the same position heading into his title defense against former WBA title holder Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium Saturday night.

This time last year, being roughly two months out from his title defense against Carlos Takam, Joshua, 28, was the perceived alpha fighter in the heavyweight division. AJ had won all his fights by knockout and, other than a Wladimir Klitschko right hand that dropped him in the sixth round, looked as if he were a sure thing to be the future of the division. But then he looked average stopping Takam, a late replacement for Kubrat Pulev. Joshua cut Takam, dropped him in the fourth round and stopped him in the 10th, but the stoppage was a little bit of a quick hook in the eyes of most observers and it dulled the win.

Five months later Joshua fought undefeated WBO titlist Joseph Parker. Three weeks prior to this fight, Joshua rival and WBC title-holder Deontay Wilder, after nearly being stopped in the seventh round, knocked out the most avoided fighter in the division in Luis Ortiz to score the signature win of his career. So the pressure was on Joshua to win impressively.

Unknown to anyone, Parker showed up only interested in becoming the first fighter Joshua couldn’t stop. And AJ didn’t endear himself to any newly conformed fans when he fought with little urgency, content to win a lopsided decision. Relying almost exclusively on his jab, he made no real attempt to get Parker out of there. Compounding the shrinking perception of AJ, Takam, in his next bout, was beaten more definitively by Dereck Chisora than he was by Joshua.

When you take into account that Wilder scored an impressive KO in his last fight over the most formidable opponent he’s fought and Joshua only scored one knockdown in his last two fights combined, it’s easy to glean why Wilder has narrowed the gap regarding the public perception of them. What’s been missed about Joshua’s last two bouts, however, is that he was utterly dominant. It’s hard to find three rounds he lost of the 22 he was in the ring. But yet, the thing that is most remembered is that AJ didn’t look like the doctor of destruction that his physicality and ring record projected him as being.

When an elite fighter like Anthony Joshua is seen as being a knockout artist and then goes a few fights in a row without delivering a memorable KO, critics and fans begin to find things about their game that are suddenly alarming. And that’s why it’s imperative for Joshua not just to beat Povetkin; he must become the first fighter to stop him. That will get the attention of the right people and at the same time gain back some of the cachet he ceded to Wilder since March of this year.

According to The Ring magazine’s latest ratings…the top six heavyweights, in order, are Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker. So of those ranked 3-6, Povetkin is the only one who hasn’t yet faced Joshua or Wilder. Many well-known observers who cover boxing also see Povetkin 34-1 (24) as the third best fighter in the division. In fact, the new narrative regarding this fight is that Povetkin is really dangerous. With his power, extensive experience and toughness, he’s not an automatic win or free ride for AJ this weekend.

Yes, that’s what they’re saying before they get into the ring – so let’s remember that after the bout, because if Joshua 21-0 (20) looks impressive and stops Povetkin, we’ll more than likely hear how Povetkin was washed up, having turned 39 earlier this month and having lost to the best fighter he ever touched gloves with in Wladimir Klitschko. In one night, Povetkin will go from being a real test for Joshua to an old man who couldn’t beat anybody in the top 10. Conversely, if Povetkin goes the distance and is competitive with Joshua, then, in a knee-jerk reaction and overstatement, many will label AJ a fraud and a sure loser when he faces Wilder.

The reality is a stoppage win by Joshua will be impressive because Povetkin has never been close to being stopped. Even after going down four times against Klitschko he never looked as if he wanted out and Wladimir was a single shot bigger banger than Joshua is with either hand (with the difference being Joshua gets off more freely and puts his punches together in combination, opposed to Klitschko who force-fed his opponents one-twos. Also, Joshua is quicker handed than Klitschko and that should enable him to land some big shots in succession on the presumably attacking Povetkin).

Povetkin most likely needs to be inside against Joshua. There’s only two ways to do it, either by pressing AJ or moving away and timing him, and the method he chooses will illustrate just how much AJ’s power is or isn’t too much for him to chance moving in on. If Povetkin pulls a Parker and the fight goes the distance, Joshua shouldn’t be excoriated because it’s hard to stop a fighter who is only looking to survive. At the same time Joshua will have to let his hands go and fight with more urgency and passion than he showed against Parker, because if he doesn’t that will raise my red flag.

When Joshua crashed the top-10 heavyweight rankings I thought, having watched him closely, that he had the potential of former champ Lennox Lewis. That hasn’t changed, but I’m beginning to see Lewis as being more of a natural fighter and AJ as the better athlete. On paper it’s close when comparing them, but Lewis, especially under the late Emanuel Steward, kept improving whereas Joshua, after looking so good and well-rounded stopping Klitschko, seems to have plateaued.

Alexander Povetkin is AJ’s twenty-second bout. In Lennox Lewis’s twenty-second bout, he fought Donovan “Razor” Ruddock.

Ruddock (27-3-1) was a 6’3”, 231-pound, well-built fighter with power in his left hand but limited skills. Povetkin is 6’2” and weighed in at 229 for his last bout. Ruddock’s left-hook/uppercut was probably a bigger single shot than anything in Povetkin’s arsenal but that’s about the only check Razor gets in his column over Povetkin. The Russian fighter has a much higher boxing IQ than Ruddock and is the more technically sound fighter with better structure and form.

Lewis destroyed Ruddock in two rounds in what was the signature performance of his career at the time. Joshua has already delivered a signature performance, his stoppage of Klitschko after knocking him down three times, but critics and fans have short memories so Joshua needs to deliver another eye opening performance. As was the case for Ruddock when he fought Lewis, Povetkin looks made to order for AJ to look good against. However, Povetkin, unlike Ruddock before he confronted Lewis, has never been stopped and is known for his durability and ruggedness.

Joshua says he is motivated for Povetkin and isn’t looking past him. He says he fears losing, and I don’t need him to confirm he has a gigantic ego and cannot be happy about some of the pageantry and attention that Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury have stolen from him. As for Povetkin, this is no doubt his last title shot and he certainly knows this is the fight he needs to put everything together…which should translate into him coming to win which means he’s going to fight instead of hoping for pats on the back for showing up. And if Povetkin comes to fight, Joshua should get some great opportunities to shine and post another signature win.

This is the ideal fight and opponent for AJ to show just what he has and to stay on the same trajectory that Lennox Lewis did after stopping Razor Ruddock.

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

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Avila Perspective, Chapter 15: Las Vegas Boxing Journal

Usually the world of boxing has two massive fight weekends, but this year it was down to one. All of that pent-up energy had to be released

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Usually the world of boxing has two massive fight weekends, but this year it was down to one. All of that pent-up energy had to be released and this past weekend, for Mexican Independence Day, it all came pouring out.

Las Vegas was my destination once again.

In the last four years the Nevada gambling capital has seen fewer and fewer boxing cards as other destinations like New York, Texas and California have gobbled up fight dates. What used to be almost a monthly journey has been whittled down to twice a year.

When it comes to staging a mega event, you just can’t beat Las Vegas. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez meeting Gennady “GGG” Golovkin for the second time definitely qualifies.

I was supposed to drive up Thursday morning with photographer Al Applerose but we could not coordinate our schedules. It was important to leave early to reach the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where the Golden Boy Promotions card featuring Maricela Cornejo versus Franchon Crews for a world title was being held. Starting time for the fight card was 2 p.m. because of ESPN.

By the time I checked into my hotel and drove over to the Hard Rock, it was already 3 p.m. Surprisingly, a decent crowd was there mostly to see Cornejo vs. Crews. ESPN televised the event and despite the early start time fans and celebrities were in the house.

It had been 14 years since that network had televised a female world championship bout. I remember because I saw that fight in 2004 and it was a doozy.

Finally, another female world title fight and it was great to see two female warriors finally get their day under the spotlight. After 10 rounds Crews won by majority decision and the green WBC belt was wrapped around her waist. Watching the joy on her face was priceless.

If you have followed me as a reader then you know female boxing has been a favorite passion. I truly believe it will rival male prizefighting one day, maybe soon. The world of MMA has proven it can be done as Ronda Rousey so emphatically showed.

Women prizefighters will get their day.

After the fight we headed to the Pink Taco mainly because they serve decent margaritas. I’m kind of a connoisseur of the drink. The first one I received was passable, but that second one was pretty good. Our group consisted of two reporters from Japan and Applerose, the photographer. Tacos and margaritas for everyone.

Friday

No fights were scheduled for Friday but the weigh-ins and press conferences were stacked together. I moved from my hotel and drove to Summerlin where a friend of mine has a place. He had invited me to stay and was insistent.

My friend is known as “Mr. Las Vegas.” It’s a name given to him the great Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas who now lives in Vegas. He gave him this nickname because no one knows Las Vegas like this guy (that I won’t name unless he gives approval). This 40-something year old gentleman was born and raised in the casino city and has been involved in boxing, MMA and personally knows the high rollers and political powers of the city and state.

Mr. Las Vegas invited me months ago but he’s always on the go and sometimes it slips his mind so I booked a room just in case. But, he was adamant about me staying with him and we go back a ways.

He’s also a big proponent of women’s boxing.

I headed back to the Strip to the MGM media center where a press conference for Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell was taking place. The media was in force. Easily 200 were already in the David Copperfield Theater at 10 a.m.

Maybe it was the free breakfast that enticed reporters and photographers to get up early. It was amazing to see so many media members on a Friday morning. It was a mad scramble.

The theater is fairly large and from a distance I could spot many friends and colleagues. During the face-off Liddell and Ortiz squared off and Oscar De La Hoya looked like a midget between the two. They will be fighting at the Inglewood Forum on Nov. 24. Golden Boy Promotions is the promoter for the pay-per-view event. It will be the third time the MMA stars clash.

So while Dana White delves into boxing, De La Hoya delves into MMA. Strange happenings.

Later that Friday a press conference for Yuri Gamboa was staged by the Cuban fighter himself at Gonzalez Gonzalez restaurant in the New York, New York Hotel and Casino.

Gamboa briefly had a contract with Golden Boy, and had been connected to Top Rank and Fifty Cent. The slick southpaw (is there any other kind of lefty?) seeks another chance to hit a jackpot in the boxing ring.

About two dozen reporters met at the Mexican restaurant eatery. Gamboa was busy speaking to each reporter one-by-one and helped by a small group of publicists including New York sharp Ed Keenan. Food and drinks were great.

Last year Gamboa was quite busy and had four prizefights. His lone loss was against Mexico’s extremely dangerous Robinson Castellanos who stopped the Cuban at the end of the seventh round in Las Vegas.

So far this year, no fights. It’s a primary reason he’s doing it himself on a risky pay-per-view show.

“I can’t depend on anyone else,” said Gamboa. “If I want to advance. I feel I should do it myself. I have experience and knowledge in professional boxing.”

Gamboa, 36, will fight Mexico’s Miguel Beltran on Nov. 20, in Miami, Florida. He will be the main event. The co-main event will be Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez meeting Jesse Rodriguez. If all goes well, the two former world champions will meet each other sometime next year.

“I still have goals to accomplish,” said Gamboa.

Super Lightweight Title Clash

While sitting around eating and drinking at the Mexican restaurant, the ESPN fight card featured Jose Carlos Ramirez and Antonio Orozco fighting for the WBC super lightweight world title. It was body puncher versus body puncher and that means fireworks.

Ramirez had not faced anyone who could match punch output with him until that Friday night. I expected Orozco to fire all his guns and that’s exactly what he did.

For 12 volatile rounds the two 140-pounders fought at 100 miles an hour and though Ramirez won the majority of the rounds according to the judges, each round in itself was a battle.

Orozco, 30, is a very mild-mannered gentleman outside the ropes, but inside he’s one of the most fierce body punchers in the business. He has fought for Golden Boy Promotions for a number of years and may have passed his peak two years ago.

Ramirez, 26, was making his second defense of the world title he won almost a year ago and fights under the Top Rank banner. Whenever these two promotion companies go against each other it’s like the Dodgers and the Giants. No mercy.

The titleholder Ramirez was fighting in front of the adopted hometown of Fresno and floored Orozco twice with body shots and head shots. You would have expected Orozco to wilt but every time he was dropped he came back with a ferocious attack.

It was a gripping fight to watch.

As I sat at the bar in the Mexican restaurant with photographer Applerose, we couldn’t help but admire the spirit that both fighters showed for 12 rounds. Crowds gathered around the bar to watch the final three or four rounds. A few had noticed us watching and stopped to see what had us glued to the television screen perched above the various liquors.

We had a few beers after that incredible title fight.

Ramirez won the fight and retained the world title but Orozco had won the hearts of everyone watching with his tremendous heart. Both fighters congratulated each other and showed sincere respect. If you haven’t seen it, watch the replay. You won’t be sorry.

Saturday

The schedule for Saturday started early with two press conferences staged in the morning.

WBC super featherweight titlist Miguel Berchelt and challenger Mickey Roman met with media at Wolfgang Puck at 12 noon to talk about their pending clash on HBO. It’s another meeting between a Top Rank affiliated fighter and Golden Boy affiliated fighter.

Can it match Ramirez-Orozco?

Berchelt is a heavy-hitting but skilled fighter from the Yucatan area. Roman is a hard-nosed heavy hitter from Juarez, Mexico. Its North versus South in this Mexican battle that takes place on Nov. 3 in El Paso, Texas.

This could be extremely explosive.

Immediately after the Top Rank press conference, and a few feet away, another media luncheon took place for interim WBC super lightweight titlist Regis Prograis.

Prograis, 29, is an interesting cat.

Raised in New Orleans and Houston, the extremely strong Prograis will participate in the World Boxing Super Series that begins in late October. He faces former lightweight world champion Terry Flanagan of England.

“I chose to fight Terry Flanagan because he’s a former world champion,” said Prograis whose last fight was a knockout win over Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco in New Orleans. “I’m trying to prove I’m the best. I don’t want an easy fight. It’s a waste of time.”

Of course he would love a match with current WBC titlist Jose Carlos Ramirez but he can wait.

“We’ll meet one day in the ring,” Prograis said.

The Rematch

After the pair of press luncheons we headed to the T-Mobile Arena for the Alvarez-Golovkin mega fight. It was an early 2 p.m. start so we missed a couple of early fights. I always try to watch every bout. It’s my duty as a reporter to cover all the fights that take place. Not just the headliners, but the afternoon press conferences held me up.

The best of the undercard saw Vergil Ortiz Jr. annihilate his former sparring partner Roberto Ortiz in two rounds.

Vergil Ortiz trains in Riverside, Calif. with Robert Garcia. He formerly was based in Indio, Calif. with Joel Diaz. Both trainers have excellent troops.

Ortiz, 20, has long limbs and fights long too. He’s buzzed through 11 straight opponents and kind of resembles late actor Jack Palance in the movie Shane. Vergil is a likeable guy who seems nothing like a feared monster in a boxing ring.

Golden Boy keeps stepping up the competition a notch and he keeps rendering them unconscious. The promoter doesn’t want to overstep the process with Ortiz so they are doing things de-li-cate-ly.

So far Ortiz has treated everyone who steps in the ring with him like fragile china. He touches them and they fall to pieces. Technically he is very sound. But the Golden Boy crew sees something very special in the kid from Dallas. He is one to watch.

Boycott?

After several fights including the main event that saw Alvarez win by majority decision, it’s important to note that the entire “ringside” media group was placed more than 50 yards away from the boxing ring. No one from the media had a sufficient view to analyze the fight that has been very disputed by fans and others.

But my question is: why did the promoters place the media a ridiculous 50 yards away?

Sadly, it’s a move that says to the media “we don’t need you.”

Maybe it’s time to organize.

Regis Prograis photo by Al Applerose

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An Unofficial Judge Scored 9 Rounds for Canelo; Feel Free to Hoot and Holler

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auxiliary press

The auxiliary press section at the T-Mobile Arena is quite a distance from the boxing ring. I’ve been in auxiliary press sections before, but never one that was up so high. It was here that I found myself on Saturday night, peering down on the ring far below and like everyone else checking out the big screen between rounds for a closer look at key moments.

From this vantage point, the ring is both smaller and bigger. It’s bigger in the sense that it opens things up a bit. Your eyes see more space between the fighters and you are better able to judge which fighter is controlling the distance. Think of the picture from the overhead cam in a football game. Looking straight down, the playing field doesn’t look as congested. The holes that open for a North-South running back bursting into the secondary get wider and from this panorama you are better able to judge the work of the offensive line.

Having said that, this is really no place to adequately judge a boxing match, so I can be forgiven for scoring the fight 9-3 for Canelo. For what it’s worth, however, the fellow on my right had it the same. The fellow on my left had it somewhat tighter, but also scored it for Canelo. And for the record, neither of these guys were Hispanic so they weren’t blinded by tribal loyalty.

At the T-Mobile, when the main event ends, the scribes in the auxiliary press section are literally held hostage. They are prevented from going down to the post-fight press conference until the arena has thinned out.

This reporter couldn’t get his laptop to function properly and had no patience. I’m not comfortable working on my cellphone, so it was imperative that I get home in a jiff and be there when David Avila’s ringside report turned up in my e-mail. On a fight of this magnitude, the boss wants the bread-and-butter post-fight story up on the site in a hurry.

Aware of the hostage situation, and my own technological limitations, I had the foresight to scope out the arena for an escape route just in case I needed to get away fast. And so, before a hostage-taker could rope me in, I was off and running, scurrying down a little used staircase. I had my car parked in the right spot for a quick getaway, traffic was light, and I was home at my work desk in less than 30 minutes.

I didn’t wait around to hear the scores. To me it was a foregone conclusion that Canelo would have his hand raised. Heading home, I had the car radio tuned to an all-sports station. And when the scores came across the radio, I thought to myself, well, I was wrong and I was right. I thought GGG would win and I was wrong about that, but I was right, I thought to myself, that the judges would be disposed to give GGG the close rounds. In my mind, the scores (114-114 and 115-113 twice) gave GGG the best of it. Granted, several rounds were tough to score, but yet the fight wasn’t that close.

Au contraire !

To my amazement, the vast majority of those seated in the ringside press section scored the fight a draw or had it shaded toward Triple-G. In fact, according to one survey, which included those in the building and a select few watching at home or in a TV studio, only two of the 59 people that were polled had it for Canelo with 17 scoring it even. The most cantankerous of the GGG faction was ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas who apparently had it 117-112 and labeled the decision a robbery.

No I won’t defend my scoring. Let me see the fight on TV (and with the sound off, natch), and I’ll get back to you. But I’m still flabbergasted that my score was so out of whack with the consensus.

Odds and Ends

Although the fight was announced as a sellout, there were empty seats scattered around the arena. The announced attendance was 21,965, roughly 1,400 less than for the first encounter last September.

The first Canelo-GGG bout set the attendance record for an indoor fight in Nevada and came in third all-time in gate receipts, surpassed only by Mayweather-Pacquiao in 2015 and Mayweather-McGregor in August of last year. But that’s a distant third to the leader. The gross gate for Canelo-GGG I ($27,059,850) was far below Mayweather-Pacquiao which raked in an astounding $72,198,500.

Although there’s more money in circulation each year and more fat cats willing to pay an enormous sum to attend a mega-fight, I doubt the Mayweather-Pacquiao record for gate receipts will be broken any time soon.

The crowd, needless to say, was skewed heavily toward Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. And while it’s often said that members of this ethnic group are true fight fans, the reality is that when they come to Las Vegas they act just like the Anglo high rollers, which is to say that they arrive at a big fight fashionably late.

When the first of the four PPV fights started, the arena was not more than 15 percent full. When the semi-main started, the arena was perhaps one-third full, notwithstanding the fact that it was a title fight featuring a boxer from Tijuana.

The old outdoor fights at Caesars Palace were thick with celebrities who were acknowledged by the ring announcer. Saturday’s fight at the T-Mobile was something of a throwback. The roll call included movie stars Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Mark Wahlberg, comedians Dave Chappelle and Cedric the Entertainer, and sports personalities Lebron James, Charles Barkley, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Triple H – to name just a few.

Standing in the ring as GGG and Canelo made their way from their dressing rooms was a fashionably dressed woman wearing a dress that one would associate with a Latin country. I assumed she was there to sing the Mexican National Anthem. In my younger days, the Mexican National Anthem was sung so often at big fights in Las Vegas that I could eventually mouth the words.

But no, there was no National Anthem whatsoever, neither U.S., nor Mexican, nor Kazakhstani. I was told that they did do anthems before the first of the preliminary fights. This would have been about 3:00 in the afternoon when there were not more than a few hundred people in the joint.

Was this a reaction to the brouhaha set in motion by Colin Kaepernick? That’s a fair assumption.

Not only were the anthems missing, but so also was Michael Buffer, a fixture at HBO shows for decades. I’m told that he now works exclusively for Eddie Hearn. He’ll be back on the job this coming Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London.

Joe Martinez, Buffer’s replacement, did a solid job, as did referee Benjy Estevez who was working his first big fight in Nevada. Of course, Canelo and GGG made it easy for him. No matter your opinion of the scoring, I think we can all agree that these two great warriors engaged in a very clean fight.

By all accounts, this was a very good fight for the bookies. The expectation that there would be late Canelo money in Las Vegas on Mexican Independence Day weekend wasn’t born out. At one establishment, the odds favoring GGG rose from 7/5 to 9/5 (minus-180) in the last few hours of betting. I’m told that it nicked above 2/1 at a few places offshore.

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