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RICHIE GIACHETTI – Part of the appeal of boxing always has been its clique of rowdy, raucous, wrong-side-of-the-track guys. “Damon Runyon” characters, they were called, when every newspaper reader knew who the great sports writer Damon Runyon was, and what kind of mischievous miscreants the celebrated wordsmith loved to chronicle.

An increasingly exclusive club became even more so Wednesday in Cleveland when longtime trainer Richie Giachetti, best known for his work with heavyweight champions Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, passed away after an extended illness.

Giachetti, born on April 21, 1940, the son of an Italian immigrant, certainly looked the part, which is to say, not like most people who don’t have their physical features rearranged, or quirky mannerisms forged, in the crucible of a sport that never has cottoned much to bland uniformity. He was rotund but not necessarily flabby, in no way handsome, a loud talker whose craggy visage suggested he knew how to rumble and was always ready to give as good or better than he got when the spit hit the fan.

Like fellow trainer Teddy Atlas, a younger, leaner version of himself, Giachetti’s face was forever marked by a jagged scar that was as identifiable as a fingerprint. Giachetti got his – 78 stitches worth – in a bar fight in Cleveland, a potentially lethal encounter (it was for the other fellow) that nearly cost him his left eye.

“I was having a quiet beer when a guy I’d never seen before asks the bartender, `Who’s the toughest guy in the joint?’” Giachetti recalled. “The bartender points to me and the next thing I know, the guy stuck a bottle in my face.

“I hit him. Then he pulls a knife and tries to stick me. Somehow, I got hold of the knife and stuck him three times.”

Giachetti spent seven hours in surgery; his assailant wasn’t so fortunate and died in the hospital. “The cops spoke to witnesses and decided it was justifiable,” Richie said.

Then there was the time, in another bar fight – for some reason, Giachetti must have found it difficult to have a quiet drink without getting hassled – when another confrontational customer stabbed him with an ice pick just beneath his heart. “The doctor told me that if it hadn’t been for my muscle tone, I would have died,” he said.

Obviously, Giachetti and another Cleveland guy, Don King, were destined to find each other. In fact, it was Giachetti who helped introduce His Hairness to boxing, where his fellow member in the unique-characters fraternity soon flourished in his own distinctive way.

Oddly enough, Giachetti, who was born in Uniontown, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh, and relocated to Cleveland in the late 1950s, came to boxing only after he discovered that he wasn’t emotionally suited to his occupation of choice, which was auto racing. A tavern owner and patron who couldn’t quite seem to steer clear of sharp objects, he also was a skilled auto mechanic who thought he could transfer his expertise in fast cars to the track as a driver. But, apparently, he was more fearful of crashing into a retaining wall than of mixing it up with knife-wielding drunks or even championship boxers in his charge who might have been resentful of Richie’s in-your-face way of getting his point across.

“One day I was flying down the track at 160 miles an hour when, all of a sudden, I see this wall in front of me,” Giachetti told Alan Goldstein of The Baltimore Sun. “Instinctively, I slowed down. But that’s when you’ve got to step on the gas. You can’t back down. Same thing in boxing when you find yourself in a tough spot. You’ve got to suck it up. Go for the kill.”

So it was back to boxing for Richie, who, like his twin brother Bob, had had some success at the local and state Golden Gloves levels. And when his beer and fast-food intake expanded his physique to a point that entering the ring himself no longer was feasible, he decided to become a trainer.

Giachetti’s first celebrity client was Holmes, except that nobody knew much about Holmes or his rumpled manager-trainer then. Holmes had been beaten at the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team Trials by Duane Bobick, who was supposed to be the Next Big Thing, and none of the major promoters were beating a path to either his or Giachetti’s door. But that door opened when Don King, seeking entry into an enterprise that suited his particular skill set, came knocking. Maybe that was because King had especially keen foresight, and maybe it was because he needed to get his operation up and running, even if it meant taking on an unwanted guy who had been beaten by Duane Bobick and wasn’t going to the Munich Olympics.

“I had used Larry as a sparring partner for Earnie Shavers,” Giachetti said of their early days together. “I liked the kid’s heart from the start. All the famous trainers back then – Angelo Dundee, Gil Clancy, Eddie Futch – turned him away. But I stuck with him.”

The Richie ’n’ Larry path to the pinnacle of boxing was a long and winding road, to put it mildly. Some of Holmes’ early bouts were for purses as skimpy as $150, and he and Giachetti often had to eat on the cheap and stay in fleabag hotels. But Holmes had something special, a state-of-the-art jab, and eventually it took him to a bout with Ken Norton for the WBC heavyweight championship on June 9, 1978, at the Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion in Las Vegas. And when Holmes outlasted Norton to win an electrifying, 15-round split decision, he and Giachetti suddenly found themselves in a fancy new neighborhood reserved only for elite fighters and those fortunate enough to work with them. Holmes was voted Fighter of the Year for 1978 by the Boxing Writers Association America while Giachetti walked away with the hardware as Manager of the Year. But for the remainder of his career, Giachetti was denied a prize he wanted more than anything: Trainer of the Year.

So, how instrumental was Giachetti in the development of Holmes’ career from virtual anonymity to the top of his profession?

“I talk to Larry twice a month,” Giachetti said in 2012, when infirmity had forced him to step away from the training chores which had become such an integral part of his identity and sense of self-worth. “Nobody had a jab like his. He hit with that jab so hard he knocked guys out. I taught that. Fighters with good, hard left jabs are my trademark.”

Holmes remained at least somewhat close to Giachetti, speaking to him a couple of times a month, but he said his jab owed more to his own talent and a work ethic formed when he was a kid than from anything he was taught by Giachetti or any other trainer with whom he worked.


“Richie rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, OK?” Holmes said when contacted for this story at his Easton, Pa., office. “He was a good trainer to a certain extent. But Richie was Richie. If you said something he didn’t like, or if he thought you were wrong, he’d let you know. Ninety percent of the time he probably was wrong. I’m not going to throw flowers now. I’m gonna tell it like it is.”

“Throwing the jab came natural to me. I practiced jabs when I was a kid coming up, watching Muhammad Ali. He had a good jab so I wanted to develop a good jab. I thought if I used my jab I wouldn’t get hit with too many right hands.”

“Richie always talked about the importance of the jab, but to teach a jab you have to know how to throw a jab. He didn’t really have, uh, the showmanship to demonstrate it.”

There are those, such as Cleveland Plain Dealer boxing writer Joe Maxse, who figured that Giachetti’s body of work, not only with Holmes and Tyson but with an array of other champions that included, among others, Aaron Pryor, Earnie Shavers, Greg Page, Esteban De Jesus, Julian Jackson and Buster Doulas, merit induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. It hasn’t happened yet, and there are those who would say that the reason Giachetti had so many good-to-great fighters was because he was the “house” trainer for King. In any case, Giachetti, always one of the most quotable boxing insiders, and therefore a favorite interview subject of media members, felt slighted that he was never given the credit for being a chief second on a par with, say, Eddie Futch, Angelo Dundee, Emanuel Steward, George Benton or Freddie Roach.

But, just as Dundee’s reputation was honed and polished because of his affiliation with Ali and then with Sugar Ray Leonard, Giachetti got a second opportunity to take center stage when he was brought in to work with Tyson after he was shockingly upset in 10 rounds by Buster Douglas on Feb. 11, 1990, in Tokyo, a fight in which Tyson’s co-trainers, Jay Bright and Aaron Snowell, appeared to be completely befuddled. Tyson won all four of his fights with Giachetti in their first tour of duty together, knockouts of Henry Tillman, Alex Stewart and Razor Ruddock and then a decision over Ruddock in their rematch. But then Tyson was convicted of rape, went to prison for three years and, during the interim, Giachetti filed legal action against King. Little wonder that when Tyson was released, Giachetti was not brought back.

But when Tyson showed signs of regression, culminating in the loss of his WBA heavyweight title via TKO against Evander Holyfield on Nov. 9, 1996, it was obvious that something needed to be done, and fast, to get Tyson back to where he needed to be. Enter Giachetti, for what he termed was another gig in the “center ring” of the “Mike Tyson circus.”

“Watching that (first) Holyfield made me sick,” Giachetti said. “I knew that wasn’t the Mike Tyson I left off with in the second Ruddock fight. Mike made a lot of mistakes that night. His balance was bad, his feet were wrong and he didn’t use his jab. With me, setting up opponents with the jab was always fundamental. I’m not mentioning names (such as that of the deposed Bright). Just say nothing happened in Mike’s corner to help him.”

Back again with Tyson – “I always had faith that sooner or later Mike would call me,” Giachetti said – the two went about fixing what was wrong with the erstwhile baddest man on the planet.

“The first day I showed up in training camp in Ohio, he chased everybody else out of the gym and said he wanted to spend a week alone with me,” Giachetti said. “We’ve got good chemistry. We work well together. It’s called respect. I’m not saying I’m the best trainer, but I believe I’m the best man for Mike.”

Perhaps no trainer could have handled a salvage job of such magnitude. Although Giachetti predicted a knockout victory for his prodigal pupil, “because he’s Mike Tyson,” the so-called “Bite Fight” victory for Holyfield chewed a large chunk out of the reputations of both Tyson and Giachetti, whose confidence in his ability to draw the best from the remnants of what Tyson had been was overly optimistic.

Whatever Giachetti’s legacy is, or how it will be viewed moving forward, is now a matter of conjecture.

“I don’t know what it is,” Richie’s twin brother, Bob, said in 2012 when asked why the IBHOF had yet to induct his sibling. “As far as training fighters, Tyson and everyone else said he always did a good job with them. He had all those champs.”

But there is no disputing that Giachetti was an original, a boxing lifer who didn’t look, sound or act quite like anyone else. Guys like that once were commonplace, but the effervescent Dundee is gone, as are so many others who never could be confused with anyone else. What few remain – Jake LaMotta, the “Bronx Bull,” is 94 and getting nearer to a seventh scrap with Sugar Ray Robinson in heaven (Jake can only hope),  and crusty Lou Duva is 93 and confined to a wheelchair – are dying off without really being replaced.

More’s the pity.

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 8: Competing Cards in N.Y. and L.A.



Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”


Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?




Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

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