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GGG vs. “The Alien” at 168 or 170? It Almost Happened !

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Almost Happened

Almost Happened – A funny thing happened on the way to the dreadful mismatch that was unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin vs. Dominic Wade: Fight fans might have gotten a pairing of “GGG” and ageless wonder Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins, at 168 or perhaps 170 pounds. Think that would have been preferable to watching Golovkin, the most avoided fighter in boxing, beat up still another “challenger” foolish or desperate enough to offer himself up as a human sacrifice to the hardest-punching 160-pounder since Gerald McClellan?

But now that Dominic Wade, ruthlessly dispatched in less than two rounds, is in Golovkin’s rear-view mirror, probably never to be heard from again, the boxing world can return to the longest-running bit of pugilistic foreplay since, well, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao stared at each other across a chasm of disagreement for five-plus years before they finally got around to sharing the ring.

To hear Hopkins, an executive with Golden Boy, which handles WBC and lineal middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs), and Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, which takes care of the business arrangements for Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs), the WBA “super” and IBF champ who, perhaps most significantly in this instance, also holds the WBC “interim” belt, any negotiations to make the megafight everyone wants to see should be smooth sailing. The Golovkin side is willing to grant almost every concession to Alvarez, the presumptive “A” side of the promotion, including choice of venues and a larger slice of what is sure to be a XXXL-sized financial pie. If Canelo, who is to Mexico’s large and raucous contingent of boxing buffs what Steph Curry is to the Golden State Warriors, wants home-field advantage in Las Vegas or Texas, Loeffler said Golovkin is more than willing to accede to his wishes. But that doesn’t mean a squall won’t blow through to trouble otherwise placid waters.

“Each side knows this is a big fight – a huge fight,” said Hopkins, whose penchant for telling the truth as he sees it sometimes runs counter to the company line publicly floated by Golden Boy founder and CEO Oscar De La Hoya. “It’s the kind of fight boxing needs. But to make fights like that sometimes, everybody has to realize that sometimes you got to give a little to get a lot. I can’t say it any better than that.

“The only possible obstacle is weight. The money will take care of itself. There ought to be enough to satisfy both sides. It won’t do the numbers that Mayweather-Pacquiao did, obviously, but it’ll break some records. If `Triple G’ is willing to come down five pounds, I can almost guarantee he and Canelo will fight before the end of this year, the beginning of next year at the latest. But would he be willing to do that? I don’t know. Would Canelo be willing to come up to, say, 158? I don’t know that either. I do know I wouldn’t want to fight `Triple G’ at 158. I’ve seen the man fight and he can crack.”

To the average fight fan that might be willing to jump naked into a pond filled with piranhas to earn the kind of scratch a Alvarez-Golovkin fight would generate, the matter of a few lousy pounds, which Marie Osmond probably shed the first week she was on NutriSystem, might not seem like such a big deal. But this is boxing, where every division except heavyweight must observe (well, usually) strict weight limits. Title fights can and have been canceled because one of the principals has weighed in just a few tenths of a pound over the contracted weight and was unable or unwilling to take it off in the allotted one-hour time frame.

Hopkins believes that if Golovkin truly wants to mix it up with Alvarez as much as has been suggested, he’d monitor his diet and training regimen in such a way that he could and would get down to the 155-pound catch weight that Canelo demanded, and is getting, for his May 9 defense against Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) at the new T-Mobile Center in Vegas. Alvarez has said that all future challengers will have to consent to a similar arrangement if they want to be given a spot on his dance card. But Loeffler believes a middleweight championship fight should be fought at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds, and he and Golovkin consider that point to be non-negotiable.

“When you have two middleweight champions fighting for the unified title, it’s hard to imagine their not fighting at the middleweight limit, especially because it’s mandated under WBC rules, which stipulates 160 pounds,” Loeffler stressed.

“There is no problem on our side regarding splits or locations. We’ve always said we were flexible concerning those matters. If Canelo wants to fight in Texas or wherever, we have no issue with that. Canelo is the WBC champion. If he wants all the champion’s perks, so be it. Gennady just wants to make the fight. He is anxious to unify all the titles, and we definitely would prefer to fight Canelo for the WBC title than for it to be taken away from him (for not complying with the WBC mandate to fight Golovkin). That is a situation that benefits no one.”

The worst-case scenario – and it might yet play out – is for Alvarez to vacate the WBC middleweight title or be stripped of it, enabling him to return to the super welterweight division he once ruled and still considers to be more of a natural fit, should his oft-stated preference for the 155-pound catch weight represent a line in the sand neither he nor Golovkin is willing to cross to accommodate the other. Were that to happen, Golovkin could, of course, still bid for the WBC championship against whomever emerged as Canelo’s replacement, but winning it under those circumstances would be hollow satisfaction. Remember, when the IBF stripped Tyson Fury of its version of the heavyweight champion for not fulfilling his mandatory, that slot was filled by Charles Martin, a larger version of Dominic Wade. When last we saw Martin, his shaky grip on the IBF title was being ripped away by Anthony Joshua in much the same manner that Golovkin blew away Wade.

To his credit, or perhaps detriment, Golovkin places great stock in the concept of being the one and only king of the middleweights, and the first to hold the belts from all four major sanctioning bodies since Jermain Taylor scored a 12-round split decision over Hopkins on Dec. 3, 2005, laying claim to B-Hop’s WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO hardware in the process. Not since Hopkins and four-time former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield has any champion been so intent on rounding up as many world titles as possible in the same weight class and protecting them with the ferocity of a she-wolf guarding her cubs. The only problem with that philosophy is that sometimes one of the world sanctioning bodies orders a mandatory defense against someone with thin credentials and an artificially inflated record – someone, for instance, like Dominic Wade.

At 34, Golovkin still appears to be at the top of his game, but the Los Angeles-based native of Kazakhstan has been grudgingly picking through the flotsam in search of the kind of career-defining megafight that would legitimize his claim to being one of the finest middleweights of all time, in addition to substantially fattening his bank account. There are only two potential matchups that have across-the-board appeal for hardcore, fringe and even non-boxing fans, one being Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward. The other is, of course, Alvarez-Golovkin.

In his own way, Golovkin has been waiting for a shot at the WBC title seemingly as long as Pacquiao waited on Mayweather. “GGG” won the interim WBC belt on a two-round wipeout of Marco Antonio Rubio on Oct. 18, 2014, setting into motion a chain of events whose final link has yet to be determined.

“Gennady’s probably been the most patient mandatory challenger that I’ve seen,” Loeffler said. “At the WBC convention in Las Vegas at the end of 2014, before Canelo even came into the picture – (Miguel) Cotto had just beaten (then-WBC middleweight champion Sergio) Martinez – it was ruled that Cotto would be allowed one voluntary defense, which was supposed to be against Canelo, with the winner mandated to fight Gennady. But Cotto then chose to fight (Daniel) Geale, and that pushed everything off-course. Now he’s used his voluntary against Geale, so we were asked to agree to allow Cotto to make another voluntary defense, against Canelo in November of last year.

“When Canelo beat Cotto, he asked to make a voluntary defense (against Khan) before he fought Gennady. Because there is such a history now of Gennady’s mandatory being pushed back, at some point it stops making sense to even have the WBC interim championship if he never gets a title shot. I mean, Gennady’s already made three defenses of the interim title.”

You would think that all the starts, stops and detours on the road to Alvarez-Golovkin would have stirred up some resentment on both sides, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. There is frustration, yes, particularly from Team Golovkin, but there is also more than a fair amount of mutual respect. These are two of the finest pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, and no one is inclined to dispute that or get into a nasty war of words.

“We have a lot of respect for Canelo,” Loeffler said. “In fact, Canelo’s one of my favorite champions. I love watching him fight. He was great against (James) Kirkland, great against Cotto. He’s taken fights, difficult fights, he didn’t have to take against Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara.”

Hopkins is no less complimentary toward Golovkin, who, with 16 successful middleweight defenses, has closed within four of tying the division-record held by B-Hop.

“You can’t take nothing away from `Triple G,’” said Hopkins, who has not yet closed the book on his Hall of Fame-quality career at the ridiculously advanced age of 51. “He’s talking about breaking my record. What’s he need now, five more wins? If it happens, I hope to be there so I can personally salute him.

“I know people say he hasn’t been tested, but you never know who’s going to show up on a given night and give him that test. The so-called experts can’t always predict who’s going to win. Sometimes they’re wrong. All I know is that he keeps mauling the guys they put in front of him.”

But Hopkins knows a thing or two about leverage, and as a key figure in the Golden Boy hierarchy he doesn’t want Golovkin’s inexorable march toward his record to include a conquest of Alvarez, 25, who is the linchpin to the company’s long-term success. If the big fight happens, and Hopkins hopes it will, all well and good. Still, the fight before the fight takes place behind closed doors where contractual matters are finalized. If there is a possible parallel between Alvarez-Golovkin, Hopkins sees it as the April 6, 1987, pairing of Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, with Canelo cast in the role of the terms-dictating Leonard.

“If Steph Curry don’t play in the playoffs, his team is probably not going to repeat as the champion,” Hopkins said. “Canelo is like Steph Curry to Golden Boy. Of course we’re going to position him in such a way to maximize all his assets. But in saying that, you got to remember one thing: We don’t need `Triple G.’ He needs Canelo. At the end of the day, the fighter that holds all the cards would be a fool not to use that.

“Look, Oscar has or might make some decisions he might be criticized for – no, he will be criticized for – but so what? He is in the business of being a promoter. As a fighter, he dared to be great. As a promoter, he can’t dare to be stupid. He has to make the right business move for his fighter, and the fact is that `Triple G’ stands to gain more from winning that fight. Of course, if Canelo wins, he becomes even more of a megastar than he already is. But he’s a megastar already.

“There will be a dialogue, a negotiation, and when it happens `Triple G’ won’t be operating from a position of strength. Look, I can remember when I couldn’t get the fights I wanted for a lot of reasons. Some of it was political. Some of it was personal. When push comes to shove, though, you do what you have to do.

“When I was the (light heavyweight) champion, I had to take off five pounds to make the Winky Wright fight, the Kelly Pavlik fight. I had a catch weight fight with Oscar when I had three middleweight championship belts and Bob Arum (then De La Hoya’s promoter) said the only  way that fight would ever happen is if I agreed to come in at no more than 158 pounds. I could have bitched and hollered about sweating off the extra weight, but I wanted the fight to happen. Was the money great? Yes. But I wanted to fight the best, and if I beat Oscar, God only knows what could happen after that. And, well, we know now what happened next.”

The concept that Golovkin is not yet an attraction on the same level as Alvarez is valid, but not nearly so much as was once the case. In his two most recent ring appearances, the smiling assassin packed Madison Square Garden with an attendance of over 20,000 for his unification bout with then-IBF champ David Lemieux and the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, Calif., with 16,000-plus for the quickie demolition of Wade. The coin of the realm in boxing is power, the rare kind that Golovkin is packing, and more and more people are coming around to the realization that when he fights, it might be a good thing to buy a ticket to be in the arena or tune in on TV.

But that power – which has scared off a lot of the potential opponents who want to be paid a king’s ransom to swap punches with him – has severely limited his options. When Tureano Johnson, a more than competent fighter who was to have been Golovkin’s IBF mandatory, fell out with an injury, the organization slid Wade, who went off as a 70-to-1 no-hoper, into his slot. Perhaps because of what the IBF had done in stripping Fury and foisting Martin upon unsuspecting fans, Golovkin probably felt he had no choice but to go through with the mandatory defense from hell. When your goal is to win all the belts, you don’t surrender any of the ones you have without just cause.

So Canelo is Golovkin’s immediate target, and after that WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) of England, who probably is a cut below Alvarez but definitely a cut or two above Wade. Full unification of a world boxing championship is a tricky affair in these uncertain times, but nothing of value ever is gained without enduring the tedium of putting the jigsaw puzzle together.

To their credit, Hopkins and Golovkin were prepared to risk much to spare HBO viewers and on-site spectators at the Forum a fight that was the equivalent of killing a spider with a sledgehammer. Hopkins, who has not fought since he went the distance in a unanimous-decision loss to Kovalev, the light heavyweight version of Golovkin, on Nov. 8, 2014, has been pining for a farewell fight before officially ending his 28-year pro career, and he wanted it to be something of consequence. Turned down for shots at the super middleweight championships held by James DeGale (IBF) and the since-dethroned Arthur Abraham (WBO), he lobbied for an intriguing go at Golovkin.

“I thought it was,” Hopkins said of the possibility that the fight might take place. “But, you know, the sand runs out of the hourglass sometimes. I was serious about wanting to do it. Golden Boy was involved in some conversations with (Loeffler), but nothing came of it. There’s a lot of posturing that goes on in this business before anything actually happens.”

Loeffer said K2 Promotions was serious about making Golovkin-Hopkins. No, it wouldn’t have been for another slice of the middleweight championship pie, but it would have been against a former undisputed middleweight titlist, a future Hall of Famer and a guy who had snapped Kovalev’s nine-bout knockout streak, albeit in a losing cause, and has never been stopped himself. Oh, and it would have been a helluva lot more interesting that Golovkin-Wade.

“There was interest on our side,” Loeffler acknowledged. “We have a lot of respect for Bernard, who we got to know pretty well for the fight with Lemieux (who is part of the Golden Boy stable). It’s a fight we could have made happen at 168 pounds, and it would have been a good story. Going into the Kovalev fight, there were a lot of people who picked Bernard to win, and he did go the distance. I think it would have been interesting to find out if Gennady could become the first man to knock out a legendary fighter who has never been knocked out. And regardless of what happened, Gennady would then go right back down to 160.

“But the IBF ruled that Gennady had to fight his mandatory (against Wade) or risk being stripped of its title, which would have been crazy since we had gone through so much to even get the fight with Lemieux.”

Presuming that Alvarez defeats Khan – and that is not nearly the gimme that Golovkin over Wade was – he has 15 days to agree to a fight with “GGG” or be stripped of the WBC middleweight title, which in and of itself would be major news given the Mexico City-based sanctioning body’s longstanding tradition of bending to the will of that country’s superstar boxers. If both sides consent to stage the fight, contractual terms would have to be arranged within a specified time frame and, failing that, it would go to a purse bid under WBC rules.

There is a school of thought that Alvarez is “afraid” to square off against Golovkin, but that is a preposterous assumption given the toughness and grit demonstrated by nearly all Mexican fighters, of which Canelo is not standard issue. He is one of his homeland’s most accomplished and popular standard-bearers in boxing, proud and confident in his own abilities, and it stands to reason that those qualities almost ensure that he seek out Golovkin to find out for himself who really is the best of the best.

But the devil is always in the details, isn’t it? It just might be that the most-anticipated middleweight unification clash since Hopkins-Felix Trinidad in 2001 hinges on the loss or addition of a few precious pounds of flesh by whichever champion comes to the conclusion that making the bout at a less-than-optimal weight is far better than not making it at all.

 

 

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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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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In Boxing, the Last Weekend of July was Chock Full of Surprises

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

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The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated Nick Webb (12-0, 10 KOs) in the fourth round. Allen said that he intended this to be his final fight, but will now hang around awhile.

In hindsight, this was an omen. Before the show was over, upsets – albeit mild upsets – were registered in both featured bouts. Dereck Chisora, trailing on the scorecards, stopped Carlos Takam in the eighth. Dillian Whyte outpointed Joseph Parker. And later that same day, in Kissimmee, Florida, Japanese import Masayuki Ito made a big splash in his U.S. debut, beating up highly touted Christopher Diaz.

– – – –

Joseph Parker is quite the gentleman. Following his loss to Dillian Whyte, Parker was gracious in defeat: “I say congratulations to Dillian. I gave it my best. The better man won.”

In case you missed it, Whyte survived a hoary moment in the final round to win a unanimous decision. Most everyone agreed that the decision was fair but there were a few dissenters. Well known U.K. boxing pundit Steve Bunce said, “I thought Parker deserved a draw.” Bunce noted that the scribes sitting near him were in complete accord that the most lopsided score (115-110) was far too wide.

We’ve seen fighters grouse that they were robbed after fights that were far less competitive. Parker’s post-fight amiability was all the more puzzling considering that he had a legitimate beef that referee Ian John Lewis was too lax, enabling Whyte to turn the contest into a street fight.

Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry was all on board with the selection of Lewis. “He’s a very highly qualified guy who I think is the best British referee,” he said. But Barry changed his tune after the fight, saying that there were at least two occasions when Lewis should have deducted a point from Whyte.

Veteran Australian boxing writer Anthony Cocks said that going forward, Parker, a soft spoken, mild mannered man, needs to have more of a mongrel in him. Cocks noted that when Whyte transgressed, Parker’s response was to look at the ref with a bemused expression. The first time that Whyte bent the rules, opined Cocks, Parker should have hit him in the balls.

– – – –

Top Rank hasn’t had much luck with their Puerto Rican fighters lately. First there was Felix Verdejo. Hyped as the next Felix Trinidad, the 2012 Olympian was 22-0 when his career was interrupted by a motorcycle accident. He won his first fight back in Puerto Rico, but was then exposed by Tijuana’s unheralded Antonio Lozada Jr. who stopped him in the 10th round at the Theater of Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day, 2018.

More recently, Top Rank gave a big build-up to Christopher Diaz, but Diaz, the 2016 ESPN Deportes Prospect of The Year, also hit the skids after starting his pro career 23-0. Diaz was upset on Saturday by Masayuki Ito in a match sanctioned for the vacant WBO 130-pound title.

Unlike Verdejo, Diaz was still standing at the final bell, but he was taken to the cleaners by his Japanese opponent who won comfortably on the scorecards.

– – – –

Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin made his pro debut on the Diaz-Ito undercard. Nikitin won every round of a 6-round contest.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, this is the guy who defeated top seed Michael Conlan in a quarterfinal bantamweight match at the Rio Olympics. The decision, which Conlan greeted with a middle finger salute to the judges, was widely seen as a heist.

In signing new prospects, Top Rank honcho Bob Arum likes to gather up fighters who compete in the same weight class as fighters that he already controls. This sets up a scenario where he can double dip, extracting a commission from the purse of both principals.

The cluster is most pronounced in the lower weight classes. These fighters, listed alphabetically, are currently promoted or co-promoted by Top Rank: junior bantamweight Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-1), junior featherweight Michael Conlan (8-0), featherweight Christopher Diaz (23-1), super bantamweight Isaac Dogboe (19-0), super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno (25-1), super bantamweight Jean Rivera (14-0), featherweight Genesis Servania (31-1), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (7-0), bantamweight Antonio Vargas (7-0), featherweight Nicholas Walters (26-1-1).

The aforementioned Nikitin launched his pro career as a featherweight.

– – – –

In July of 2004, Danny Williams knocked out Mike Tyson in the fourth round at Louisville. Iron Mike had one more fight and then wisely called it quits. Williams had 48 more fights, the most recent coming last weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Williams was stopped in the 10th round by a local man, 35-year-old Lee McAllister, whose last documented fight had come in 2013. In that bout, McAllister, carrying 140 pounds, outpointed a Slovakian slug in a 6-round fight. During his hiatus from boxing, McAllister (that’s him in the red and white trunks), served a 9-month prison sentence for assaulting a patron while working in an Aberdeen kebab shop.

Danny Williams’ weight wasn’t announced, but in his three fights prior to fighting McAllister he came in a tad north of 270 pounds. He reportedly out-weighed McAllister by 4 stone (56 pounds), likely a loose approximation.

Williams is a product of Brixton, the hardscrabble Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in South London that also spawned Dillian Whyte. But he has no intention of going back there. After the McAllister fight, in which he was knocked down three times, he said he was retiring to Nigeria where he had a job waiting for him as a bodyguard.

– – – –

The ink was barely dry on the weekend’s events when news arrived that Tyson Fury was close to signing for a December bout with WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. On social media, Fury said the deal was almost done and Fury’s promoter Frank Warren confirmed it while saying that it was conditional on Fury looking good when he opposes Francesco Pianeta on Aug. 18 at the Windsor Park soccer stadium in Belfast. Fury vs. Pianeta underpins Carl Frampton’s WBO featherweight title defense against Luke Jackson.

As to whether he would be ready to defeat Wilder after only two comeback fights, Fury, who turns 30 this month, said he was ready to beat Wilder on the day he was born.

Deontay Wilder is disappointed that his dream match with Anthony Joshua won’t happen until next spring at the earliest, but there are plenty of options out there for him and more of them for him to ponder after this past weekend’s events.

Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz looked good against Razvan Cojanu, dismissing his hapless Romanian adversary in the second round on the Garcia-Easter card in Los Angeles.

After the bout, WBC prexy Mauricio Suliaman gave Wilder his blessing to skirt his mandatory against Dominic Breazeale for a rematch with Ortiz.

Presumably that also applies if Wilder accepts promoter Eddie Hearn’s offer for a match with Dillian Whyte. The WBC now lists Whyte as their “silver” champion and has bumped him ahead of Breazeale into the #1 slot in their rankings. And then there’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller who has an Eddie Hearn connection and is a more interesting opponent than Breazeale.

If Wilder vs. Fury is a go, say Fury and Warren, it will be held in December in New York or Las Vegas. We make New York the favorite. The only good date in Las Vegas in December for an event of this magnitude is Dec. 1 and that’s only because Thanksgiving arrives early this year. The National Finals Rodeo, a 10-day event which fills up the town, arrives on Dec. 6, eliminating the next two weekends. And when the rodeo leaves, Christmas is right around the corner. Historically, boxing promoters shy away from putting on a big show right before Christmas on the theory that fight fans have the “shorts,” having exhausted their discretionary income on Christmas gifts.

There are some interesting fighters competing in the upper tier of the heavyweight division and a slew of intriguing prospects coming up the ladder. The division hasn’t been this exciting since the Golden Age of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, et al. Enjoy.

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Les Moonves, Hero of Mayweather-Pacquiao Deal, Now Cast as a Villain

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing

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Moonves

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has taken on a more sordid connotation in light of the avalanche of accusations of sexual impropriety that have thrust the 68-year-old Moonves into the unwelcome company of such accused high-visibility miscreants as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer.

But while the other aforementioned power players have been fired or indicted, their reputations in tatters, Moonves remains on the job as one of the most influential and highest paid (a reported $70 million in 2017) media executives in the United States. Despite a damning article authored by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker that details numerous instances of bad behavior ranging from merely dubious to criminally actionable, and to which Moonves himself has admitted to some extent, CBS on Monday issued a statement of support that seemed to catch the editors of Variety somewhat off-guard. The entertainment publication’s opening paragraph reads thusly: “In a surprise move, CBS’ board of directors is keeping Leslie Moonves as chairman-CEO even as it launches a probe of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by six women in a New Yorker expose.”

Why should still another story of alleged sexual misconduct by an older man seeking to exert improper control over younger women be of any significance to a fight audience? Well, normally it wouldn’t, except for Moonves’ position, which includes a say in the direction of Showtime’s increasingly important boxing operation if he so chooses. When negotiations for Mayweather-Pacquiao, a pay-per-view event which was to be co-produced by Showtime and HBO, hit a snag, Moonves insinuated himself into the discussion because it made financial and logistic sense for him to do so. CBS/Showtime had entered into a six-bout, $250 million deal with Mayweather, and three of the four fights held to that point had underperformed. Subsequently, the prevailing belief in CBS/Showtime’s executive offices was that Mayweather’s long-delayed showdown with Pacquiao was not only advisable, but absolutely necessary to stanch the flow of red ink.

“Without Les Moonves, this fight wouldn’t have had a prayer of happening,” Top Rank chairman and CEO Bob Arum, a longtime friend of Moonves, said after the last “i” had been dotted and the last “t” crossed. “The real hero in getting this done is Les Moonves.”

And this from Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, tossing another verbal bouquet to his boss: “One of the main reasons this deal got done, when maybe other ones didn’t, was having Les Moonves as part of the process. He was deeply committed to making this deal. He is someone that all parties in this negotiation respected. He was really the catalyst for seeing this through. He refused to take `no’ for an answer from any side. He was there making sure that the parties came together in a successful and cooperative manner.”

But while the high-level wheeling and dealing to finalize Mayweather-Pacquiao was done behind closed doors, so too were those instances when Moonves was attempting to arrange a private deal with a female subordinate whose career he could either advance or stymie. One such occasion allegedly involved writer-actress Ileana Douglas, who was summoned to Moonves’ office to discuss matters involving a television project in which she was to have starred. The New Yorker story quotes Douglas’ heightening discomfort as Moonves made coarse and physical advances toward her.

“At that point, you’re a trapped animal,” Douglas said of the incident. “Your life is flashing before your eyes. It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”

After The New Yorker story came out, Moonves apologized, sort of, to the six women who told Farrow that the CBS bigwig had sexually harassed them. All claimed he became cold and hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.

In a statement, Moonves said, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected – and abided by the principle – that `no’ means `no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career … We at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

What makes the furor that has suddenly swirled up around Moonves all the more curious is his prominent support for the #MeToo movement and other feminist causes. In December, he helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. A month prior to that, at a conference in November, he said, “I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for (sexual harassment). And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”

There’s a lot we didn’t know? Oh, for sure. We didn’t know for a very long time that TV’s favorite father figure, now-81-year-old Bill Cosby, would be classified as a sexually violent predator by a Pennsylvania court. Cosby is due to be sentenced Sept. 24 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and his alma mater, Temple University, rescinded the honorary Ph.D. it conferred upon him in 1991. The Cos resigned his spot on Temple’s  Board of Trustees in 2014, after 32 years, amid accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades.

We also didn’t know that Harvey Weinstein, 66, the co-founder of Miramax, would be dismissed from the company and be expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the New York Times ran a story on Oct, 5, 2017, detailing decades of allegations against him by over 80 women. It would seem that the most important piece of furniture in Weinstein’s office was not his desk, but the proverbial casting couch.

One of the more intriguing developments in the widening scandal involved TV newsmen Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer. In September 2017, O’Reilly, fired by Fox News for a series of alleged sexual improprieties, appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today show, where he told host Matt Lauer that his dismissal was “a hit job – a political and financial hit job.” Two months later, Lauer was canned by NBCUniversal after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another much more junior NBC employee. Three additional women subsequently made complaints against Lauer.

Boxing is a physical sport, maybe the most physical there is, and in most cases the transgressions committed were by fighters who resorted to brute force, the fastest way to bring cops and attorneys into the equation. Think Tony Ayala Jr. spending 17 years behind bars for rape, a conviction that came on the heels of a previous incident in which he broke a teenage girl’s jaw after he made unwanted advances toward her in the restroom of a drive-in theater. But it might be argued that those who seek to have their way with women by exercising a different kind of power are just as much or even more reprehensible, an affront not only to the females they view as disposable objects but to any man who would not want to see his mother, wife or daughter treated so shabbily.

According to CBS, there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. He deserves, as everyone does under the American system of jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence. But given the current landscape befouled by others who apparently felt that they could do whatever they wanted because they always had gotten away with it, sticking with the status quo might send the wrong message.

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