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Boxing World is Buzzing in Boston: Official PBC on NBC Weights & Fighter Quotes



BOSTON — For a Beantown fight card that seemed to come straight out of left field, it was appropriate that during fight week for the televised PBC on NBC co-promotion between DiBella Entertainment and Murphy’s Boxing, the final press conference was held on Thursday afternoon in the left field grandstand of Fenway Park, right by the world famous Green Monster.

All the key participants were in attendance, including main eventers Andre “The Resurrected” Dirrell, 24-1, 16 KOs, and James “Chunky” DeGale, 20-1, 14 KOs.

Both world-class super middleweights traveled long and far to take their respective places face to face for the international boxing media.

Dirrell, sporting a Muhammad Ali T-shirt and a smile as wide as the Charles River, strode into Fenway Park like he owned it, eager to please, with brother Anthony by his side in a Detroit Tigers baseball cap. The Dirrells are from Michigan but both were honorary Bostonians on this day; in fact, it was Andre who threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday night when the Boston Red Sox took on the Texas Rangers at home.

DeGale, a 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist from Great Britain, gladly played the role of visiting team. “I’m a switch hitter, predominantly a southpaw but I can mix it up. I can do everything,” DeGale told me of his boxing style. “I’ve loved it here in Boston. I feel very welcomed,” he said of his short time in the city.

It was a long and brutal winter in New England and Boston doesn’t get to host very many championship fights these days. People in the area who love the fight game are understandably excited. The giant piles of snow are gone. The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble. “Be there or miss the eff out,” is how Dirrell put it bluntly during his time at the podium on Thursday at Fenway Park.

The last locally held world title tilt was all the way back in 2006 at the Boston Garden when British invader Ricky Hatton defeated New Yorker Luis Collazo in a “Hatton Wonderland” for the WBA welterweight title. Fans left happy with the action but upset with the decision in favor of Hatton.

“There’s a lot of tension when you’re right there next to your opponent,” Dirrell said of his posed encounters with DeGale for the press. If there was tension in the air between Dirrell and DeGale, it was hidden from everybody else by the beautiful spring weather and festive atmosphere that permeated the ball park presser and the weigh-in at nearby Faneuil Hall. As the Friday afternoon sun beat down on the historic public courtyard, that level of tension began to slowly heat up. By the time they hit the scales to make weight, that tension was in full bloom. Forehead to forehead, Dirrell and DeGale jaw-jacked back and forth for a large crowd of primarily pro-DeGale British fans before being separated and sent off to go have a well-earned bite to eat. Known for having some of the best food available in all of Boston, Faneuil Hall was an ironically appropriate place for these hungry boxers to weigh in.

Weights & Quotes:

Andre Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs, Flint, Michigan, 167.8 lbs.): “I’ve learned to love, respect, and honor my sport. I love boxing. I go to the gym and I go into my pocket. I pull out the pain and I pay it forward. Now I want my receipt. Boston is a hardware store. The Agganis Arena is a hardware store. On Saturday, I’m gonna pick up my hardware. I want the IBF belt more than ever. It’s all I care about but I’m showing how important the fight is to us even if the title wasn’t on the line. I’m just adding the bonus material to the belt. I’m very happy to be fighting for the IBF title, but regardless of the belt or not, we have a championship fight. I’m a world class fighter and this is a world class sport. I’ve been through hell and back and I’m just ready to go see the ring. It’s ass-kicking time in that ring but outside, it’s all love.”

James DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs, London, England, 167.2 lbs.): “How can Dirrell go from fighting people like Derek Edwards and Vladine Biosse to step up to somebody like me who just knocked out Marco Antonio Periban and Brandon Gonzalez, a confident American trained by Virgil Hunter? That’s a bit of a jump, isn’t it? My last two performance speak for themselves. When Dirrell is on top, he’s very confident. If you give him too much space, that’s when he comes on as a fighter. I’m not going to let him rest. I’m not too sure he’s got the heart when it gets hard in there. All his attributes, the speed, the angles, his feet; I match him in all that. I’m actually intrigued myself about how good he is and how hard it’s going to be to beat him. After I win this title, I’m willing to fight anybody. I make 168 extremely easily but I’m kinda big for the weight. Eventually I will move up to light heavyweight.”

DeGale on rival George Groves: “A lot of people thought I won the Groves fight. The Americans thought I won. Groves is a pussy(cat). He doesn’t want a rematch with me. They offered him two million pounds for the fight, and he doesn’t want it.”

DeGale on Carl Froch: “He’s coming off his best win against Groves in front of eighty thousand people at Wembley Stadium but he’s getting old. He’s not the force he once was, trust me. He vacated his world title to not have to fight me. No way he’s gonna fight a young gun coming up.”

DeGale on the recent Gennady Golovkin vs. Froch talk: “It ain’t gonna happen. I think Froch is gonna retire.”

DeGale on the just announced George Groves vs. Badou Jack title fight: “Groves should win that. Jack is not very good. I’m hoping for Groves to win the WBC title and me the IBF, then next summer, a unification rematch which in UK which would be massive.”

Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (26-1, 17 KOs, Worcester, MA., 176 lbs.): “Right now, I’m focused on Craig Baker. He is undefeated and he is hungry. In 2005, I lost a decision to Adonis Stevenson in the amateurs during a USA vs. Canada duel. Then back when he turned professional, I went out to help him get ready for one of his fights by sparring with him. There’s no denying that he’s a big puncher. That’s who I want in the future.”

Craig Baker (16-0, 12 KOs, Baytown, TX., 175.6 lbs.): “Before I started boxing, I was a 296 pound offensive lineman for Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown. When I first walked into the boxing gym I was a borderline diabetic. I got into boxing to lose all the weight and I saw results. By my first pro fight in 2008, I was down to 199 pounds.”

Danny O’Connor (25-2, 9 KOs, Framingham, MA., 147.4 lbs.): “I’m always happy to fight at home in front of my fans. Chris Gilbert will try to use his brute and I’m going to use my brain. I’m a versatile fighter who can handle any situation that may arise. I’m happy that Gilbert, a kid from Vermont, can have this opportunity as well. When the Malignaggi fight fell off, it wasn’t real anymore, so Paulie who? He’s not even on my mind. I’m concentrating on Chris Gilbert.”

Chris Gilbert (12-1, 9 KOs, Windsor, VT., 146 lbs.): “I just fought two weeks ago in my hometown. I hit the guy with a liver shot in the first round. We expected a good eight out of him but I caught him, his face turned beet red, he spit out the mouthpiece, and that was it. I’m excited to be on this card and to fight Danny O’Connor. I always train to win every fight and this is another one where I’m coming in very strong and confident.”

Ryan “The Polish Prince” Kielczewski (22-1, 6 KOs, Quincy, MA., 127.6 lbs.): “I’m excited to get back in the ring after the loss to Danny Aquino on ESPN Friday Night Fights last month. I thought I pulled out a close victory but the judges saw it the opposite way. I basically had to lose too much weight. I was done after two rounds. I’d like to get Aquino again at 126 pounds. I don’t know much about my opponent Anthony Napunyi. He’s awkward, he’s wild, and as soon as I figure him out I should have no problem with him.”

Undercard Weights: Heavyweights, Danny Kelly (239.8) vs. Curtis Lee Tate (229.4); Middleweights, Immanuwel Aleem (159.2) vs. David Toribio (159.6); Junior Featherweights, Jonathon Guzman (124) vs. Christian Esquivel (123.2); Light Heavyweights, Edwin Espinal (171) vs. Alvaro Enriquez (170.4); Middleweights, Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (159.6) vs. Melvin Betancourt (159.6); Ryan Kielczewski (127.6) vs. Anthony Napunyi (125.4); Super Featherweights, Logan McGuiness (136.8) vs. Gerardo Cuevas (143); Bantamweights, Antonio Russell (117.2) vs. Brandon Garvin (118.6).

PBC on NBC airs at 4:30 PM EST from the Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University. Doors open at 1:30 PM EST. Tickets are still available on Look for undercard fights to be aired on NBC Sports Network following the NBC telecast.


Feature Articles

Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar



Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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A Kaleidoscope of Boxers Guaranteed to Provide Action: Past and Present



Marvelous Marvin

To set the tone for this article, one needs only to watch the way in which Thomas Hearns came out in the first round against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He was ready to rock and roll as was his fearsome looking opponent. The ensuing unmitigated savagery was the quintessential illustration of full-tilt boogie.

For most boxing fans, the anticipation of an all-out action bout gets the chills running down spines faster than anything else. But not all, as some prefer a tactical or clinical fight that someone like Mikey Garcia can orchestrate and others –but not many—enjoy a defensive gem via a Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, or Pernell Whitaker. A few love a genuine blood fest that a Gabe Rosado-type can provide, and who doesn’t like seeing something special as in Sugar Ray Leonard, Kostya Tszyu, Terence Crawford or Vasiliy Lomachenko?

Chill-or-be-chilled types like Bob Satterfield and Tommy Morrison were super exciting. In this connection—a certain cadre of warriors, past and present, would come out charging and stalking as soon as the bell rang. Many demonstrated a marked disdain for defense and used a non-stop, no let-up pressure that discouraged their opponents, especially in the late rounds. The anticipation from the crowd was palpable because it sensed some form of destruction was on its way. The cheering would start during the instructions and sometimes did not let up until the concussive end.

This cadre included Rocky Marciano, Tony Ayala, Vicious Victor Galindez, Jeff Fenech, Roberto Duran, and Julio Cesar Chavez (who sapped the spirit of his opponents by ripping away at their mid-section). Also, Carl “The Cat”  Thompson , chill-or-be-chilled Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno (60-12-1 with 59 KOs),  Ron Lyle, the ultra-violent Edwin Valero, the appropriately nicknamed JulianMr KO” Letterlough, James “The Outlaw” Hughes and his mindboggling ability to snatch victory from certain defeat, Thai stalking monster Khaosai Galaxy (47-1),  the first version of George Foreman (pictured with the aforementioned Lyle), Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim, Ruslan  Provodnikov, Orlando “Siri” Salido, Marcos Maidana, Lenny Z, Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios, and Mickey Roman (the later four are still fighting but past their primes).

Others who presently incite the anticipation of something special include (but are not limited to) Naoya “Monster” Inoue (16-0), Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (24-0), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1), Alex Saucedo (27-0), and, of course, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1) who now has become slightly more tactical like his nemesis, Canelo Alvarez (50-1-1).

These stand out as representative.


A prime Mike Tyson—and the emphasis is on prime– was the epitome of a boxer who guaranteed action. One simply would not leave his or her seat when “Iron Mike” was doing his highlight reel thing, and his blowout of Michael Spinks punctuated his standing at the top of all-action type fighters, even if the action was usually non-mutual.

Joe Frazier came out smokin’ and would not let up until either he or his opponent were done. For the most part, decisions were not in Joe’s DNA and his left hook was as malicious as a hook can be. With Joe, you just sat back and enjoyed the action. Frazier, wrote boxing historian Tracy Callis,  “was a strong, ‘swarmer’ style boxer who applied great pressure on his opponent and dealt out tremendous punishment with a relentless attack of lefts and rights; His left hook was especially stiff and quick when delivered during his bob-and-weave perpetual attack; he fought three minutes per round and never seemed to tire.”

Carlos “Escopeta” (Shotgun) Monzon (87-3-9) was a powerful and rangy Argentinean killing machine, built like an iron rod. Some said he pushed his punches. Well if he did, he pushed 87 opponents to defeat. He also became only the second man to stop former three-time world champion Emile Griffith, turning the trick in the 14th round. Blessed with great and deceptive stamina and a solid chin, he seemingly was an irresistible force. He was unbeaten over the last 81 bouts of his career, a span of 13 years, and defended his title 14 times. “One would need to write a book in order to do justice to comparing a fighter of Carlos Monzon’s calibre to his fellow all-time greats,” wrote Mike Casey.

Arturo Gatti and Irish Micky Ward were the quintessential action fighters. One is gone amidst controversy, and hopefully the other will not pay a price for his many ring wars. With these two, just count up the Fights-of-the-Year and the rest is history. Suffice it to say that Gatti and Ward will be forever linked in boxing lore.

Until his fateful fight with Nigel Benn (another all-action fighter), Gerald McClellan was absolutely, positively, a stalking monster with dynamite in his gloves. It was ferocity and fury at its highest level and it was something to behold. Sadly, his fight with Benn left him permanently disabled; his story remains a dark stain on boxing. As Ian McNeilly notes, “one man’s finest hour was the end of another man’s life as he knew it.”

Michael “The Great” Katsidis’s all-action style made thrilling fights a lock. The Kat” was willing to take three to deliver one. It was blood and guts to the last drop. Whether he too exacted a heavy price for this style remains to be seen.

Lucia Rijker, AKA “The Dutch Destroyer,” lived up to her moniker and destroyed everyone in her path. Again, it wasn’t “if,” it was “when.”

Christy Martin (49-7-3) put female boxing on the map in the ‘90s and she did it by going undefeated in 36 straight encounters, running roughshod over her opponents as evidenced by her 25 wins by stoppage during this run. She also managed to steal the show from a Mike Tyson main event in 1996 during her memorable and bloody battle with Deirdre Gogarty.


Deontay Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” has a record of 40-0.  With 39 wins coming by KO—many in spectacular fashion, The “Bomber” brings with him that same sense of anticipation that Tyson did. It’s not if; it’s when and “when” can occur at any time. But unlike Tyson, there is a vulnerability that Luis Ortiz exposed that makes the excitement index go even higher.

Dillian Whyte (24-1) has seldom been in a dull affair. His vulnerability combined with his mode of attack ensures thrilling action and the possibility of a stoppage at any time. Unlike Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora, Whyte is consistently aggressive and dangerous.

Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2) has slowed down considerably but his recent stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse offers hope that he can still conjure up his exciting whirlwind style of fast in-an-out movements that allowed him to win multiple titles over several future Hall of Fame opponents between 2005 and 2011. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., if rumors are true, would allow Pac Man an opportunity to accomplish a number of extraordinary things including avenging a prior defeat and ruining Mayweather’s undefeated record. Time will tell.

Though he appears to have shot his wad, a prime Antonio Margarito was the classic stalk, stun, and kill fighter. Heck, he belonged on the Discovery Channel. His two blowouts of Kermit Cintron showed the “Tijuana Tornado” at his most brutal. His come-from-behind demolition of Miguel Cotto stands out for its drama and bloodletting—and subsequent speculative controversy.

David Lemieux (39-4) always brings the heat. His fights seldom end as scheduled. With KO power in both hands and a propensity to rehydrate by 20 pounds, he is the essence of danger and attendant excitement. “With the sheer power he carries, Lemieux will always have a shot at beating any middleweight, and he is almost always involved in good action fights,” says James Slater.

Amanda Serrano (35-1-1) is the only women’s boxer to win world titles in six divisions. The “Real Deal” is unique in that she has a high KO percentage (74 percent) which is rare for female boxers. Amanda is 120 seconds of guaranteed action for each round.


While Iron Mike Tyson is THE MAN, Matthew Saad Muhammad also warrants special billing as he embodied what this article is all about. Steve Farhood summed up the essence of Saad Muhammad with an observation that would be appropriate for his tombstone: “Eddie Gregory (Mustafa Muhammad) has a better jab, Marvin Johnson wields more power, James Scott does more sit ups. But, Muhammad’s heart is the size of a turnbuckle, and it anchors his title reign.”

Who did I leave out? Whose name or names would you add to this list?

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