Connect with us

Canada & Usa

The 50 Greatest Featherweights of all Time Part Three: 30-21

Published

on

From the sublime to the obscure, Part 3 of my rundown of the Fifty Greatest Featherweights of all time has as wide a variety of pugilists as any installment of any list I have published for this website.  A North American puncher, an African legend, a Ukrainian tough, an Irish hero; if you want variety in approach rather than origin we have ugly stylists and obscure slicksters and lunatic pressure fighters.

These guys are from all over the place, and fight like it.

30 – Chalky Wright (163-45-19)

Chalky Wright took some serious bodies before Willie Pep got to him in 1944 and sent him running for lightweight.

He suffered a series of setbacks in 1934 and 1935 including a devastating fourth round knockout loss to Baby Arizmendi and seemed bound for journeyman hell. The good work he did in ’36 and ’37 above the featherweight limit was somewhat undone by another knockout loss in 1938, excusable in that it was suffered against a 130lb Henry Armstrong. A safe six-rounder was booked against fading contender Al Reid; Chalky found the devastating punch that would make him a champion and dispatched Reid in four. It put Chalky in a kind of race with himself. Reid’s punch was non-existent; he posted just two knockouts in fifty-seven wins. This meant he was able to chase hard, looking for the knockout blow without fear of suffering one of the stoppage losses that dots his career.  He found, I think, the key to unlocking the style that would work so well for him: get him before he gets me.

So well learned was this lesson that Chalky, whose chin was far from concrete, would box the crucial eight years to follow without suffering a single stoppage loss.

Sal Bartolo, with who readers of Part 1 will be familiar, dropped an unpopular decision to Chalky in 1941 who shortly thereafter found himself in the ring with lineal featherweight champion Joey Archibald. He grabbed his chance with both hands, blasting the king out in eleven. By this time, he had been boxing as a professional for more than thirteen years.

Chalky held the title for eighteen months, his most impressive defense his first, against Harry Jeffra. Jeffra matched a silken jab to quick feet and presented a serious stylistic problem for Wright. For the first six rounds the new champion was trapped in a one-sided dance contest and Jeffra opened up a sizeable gap but Chalky by now knew what few pressure fighters have time to learn in the modern era – that if he maintained, his pressure would tell over the fifteen. Jeffra could run, but as one Joe Louis put it, he couldn’t hide. Zip on to the ninth and Jeffra was still running, but for his life, one eye swollen shut. He was rescued in the tenth.

What this meant was that Chalky had defeated the two men to hold the title immediately before him, an uncommon achievement and one that named him the best of the post-Armstrong, pre-Pep featherweights.

After his first loss to Pep, Chalky managed to wheel back the clock for an excellent victory over Phil Terranova which put him in the ring with the champion again. After Pep bettered him for a second and third time, one of featherweight’s best punchers departed for lightweight.

29 – Hogan Bassey (59-13-2)

These days, the lineal world championship is often left to quantify in a safe with a radioactive source, existing and not existing simultaneously, sport’s very own Schrodinger’s cat, ignored by the masses and the sport alike as a concept; not so in the mid-fifties. Then, a potential fight between a division’s two best was far less beset by promotional uncertainties, not least because there was only one way for a fighter in the lighter divisions to make money: be king.

So in the same year as the lethal Sandy Saddler announced his retirement the Cherif Hamia-Hogan Bassey fight was made to crown a new divisional number one and lineal featherweight champion. Already the Commonwealth champion, Bassey, who hailed from Nigeria, climbed off the canvas to stop Hamia in ten rounds before a partisan Parisian crowd. Hamia, who was riding a streak of 30-1-2, was clattered back by a scything 5’3” pocket-rocket, a horrible mix of technically sure punching and winging, whistling hooks.

Bassey was huge fun, aggressive and a decent puncher, armed with a fine chin and a better engine. He was not blessed with outstanding competition, the dual reigns of Saddler and Willie Pep having demoralized a thoroughly dominated division, but men like Luis Romero, Jean Sneyers, Miguel Berrios and Ricardo Moreno were capable opponents who were generally outclassed (though Sneyers did manage to win one of three contests).

Bassey managed just a single defense before running into a man he would fail to master on two separate occasions, but the work he did before he came to the title is as important a factor here as the fact that he held it.

28 – Benny Yanger (52-8-19; Newspaper Decisions 0-1-2)

If ever a fighter has flown beneath the radar it is Benny Yanger. Here is a man without a Cyber Boxing entry, without any recognition at all on any all-time great list I have ever seen, without, even, a Wikipedia page.  This is despite the fact that he defeated no fewer than three men to have held the lineal featherweight championship of the world.

Between the slats that obscure history, though, there are glimpses. In 1972, while being interviewed about the much admired Ken Buchanan, Ray Arcel spoke briefly about a fighter named Yanger, a smooth-boxing Chicagoan who retired in 1910.  Arcel was asked if Buchanan was “another Yanger.”

“No,” he replied firmly. “Yanger knew everything there was to know about boxing.”

Yanger was yet to finish his education when he met the future featherweight champion of the world Abe Attell in 1902 but it is unlikely he had many lessons left to learn when Attell’s condition forced police intervention in the nineteenth of twenty rounds.  According to Ken Blady’s “The Jewish Boxer’s Hall of Fame”, Yanger “opened up a cut that didn’t stop bleeding until the end of the fight…both men emerged for the 19th covered in blood.”

The fight had been billed in some quarters as being fought for the featherweight championship but Yanger’s claim never stuck; by the time Attell came to the title just over a year later, “The Tipton Slasher’s” frame had filled out to such a degree that the then limit was not easy for him to meet. Attell, perhaps understandably, did not pursue a rematch. Yanger would never be champion.

The year before, Yanger’s education had received a further enhancement when he met the ancient George Dixon, one of the greatest boxers ever to have lived. Yanger gave him the same medicine everyone else was handing out to Dixon at that time, pounding out a fifteen round decision.

The final great featherweight Yanger bested was Young Corbett II, who he first met in April of 1900. Yanger put on a silken left-handed exhibition for the first seven rounds before finally turning to his right in the eighth, thrice dropping Corbett before he agreed to a ten count. In the rematch seven months later Corbett dominated and Yanger may have been lucky to escape with a draw.

All that said, why no place in the top twenty for Benny? After all, there are few fighters to have bested three lineal featherweight champions. But it must be considered that all three men were suffering from weak moments when Yanger got to them – Attell had not yet manifested as the great champion he would become; for Dixon that time had come and gone; Corbett would improve and indeed proved it in a rematch.

All wins, though, are worth something and these are worth more than most, so he’s firmly ensconced within the top thirty. It is advisable to avoid arguing with Ray Arcel, where possible.

27 – Azumah Nelson (39-6-2)

Azumah Nelson, out of Ghana, did much of his best work at 130lbs, remaining a featherweight for only twenty fights. It was time enough to make his mark.

This is due in part to the bravery of his management. Nelson was thrust into the lion’s den early and he emerged adorned with pelts and teeth. He fought for the commonwealth title in just his fifth fight, an assured performance followed by assured defenses before he tossed that belt aside to fight for the gold – against one of the greatest featherweights of all time, Salvador Sanchez. The fight is legendary and although he was eventually stopped in the fifteenth round, it was a losing effort which gilded the prospect and made him a contender. Unfortunately, he was then matched with another of one of the greatest fighters in history, Wilfredo Gomez. But any lessons Nelson had to learn were learned in the Sanchez bout.

Gomez’s best years were behind him but he knew every trick in the book. He was deadly. He circled, he won the battle of the jabs, and then in the second he uncorked his left hook to the body, in the middle rounds, a left-hook to the head. The fight looks close to me, but behind on all cards at the bell to begin round eleven, Nelson might have felt his back pressed to the same wall to which Sanchez had maneuvered him. He had hurt Gomez in the fourth and he knew he could do it again. When his chance came he forced upon Gomez the most torrid round of his career; it ended with a technically brilliant show of sustained pressure and violence worthy of the victory.

The Gomez people tried to claim that their man had made a mistake, dominating with boxing before succumbing to the temptation to shoot it out in the eleventh but this is not accurate. Gomez happily made war in other rounds, especially the rip-tide seventh. The truth is that Nelson had just a bit too much for him at the weight. He was good at everything, strong and a good mover with a good defense and a good punch that he held late due to good stamina. He had no weaknesses, least of all his chin, which held Gomez’s prestigious shots with ease.

This was his finest moment at featherweight, though many more special nights followed at super-feather.

26 – Louis Kaplan (108-23-13; Newspaper Decisions 13-0-3)

Louis Kaplan was never stopped at featherweight and he relinquished the kingship undefeated, the higher poundage calling him as the struggle to push his diminutive but sturdy frame into 126lbs became prohibitive.

Throughout his outstanding fifteen year career he fought like a man possessed, fighting to a breakneck schedule despite his lunatic style. Kaplan was as aggressive a featherweight as has been in the ring, direct, tireless and impervious to punishment, a necessary quality because Kaplan fought with an abandon that relegated defense to a secondary concern.

It didn’t stop him mowing down a clutch of rough-house featherweights and lightweights through 1923 and 1924, action which put him right at the front of the queue to contest the throne abdicated by Johnny Dundee. An exciting trilogy of fights with the highly ranked Bobby Garcia, of which he won two and drew the other, put him in the ring with Joe Lombardo. Lombardo was more prospect than predator but he was the man unlucky enough to find himself in the ring with a title-match rumored for the winner; Kaplan blasted him apart in four. Danny Kramer then stood between Kaplan and the title and when, in the second round, a clash of heads sent fan-favorite Kaplan stuttering to the canvas, Madison Square Garden held her breath. Kaplan got up and laid such a hideous beating upon his opponent that the same crowd was calling for a stoppage during the eighth. In the ninth, the corner threw in the towel.

Kaplan was too big to wield the title effectively. He fought an incredible draw with Babe Herman, breaking his hand in the eighth round and contesting seven rounds at championship level without throwing the punch. It was a disaster for a fighter with his vicious heart and that he escaped with a draw is admirable; he gave Herman a rematch once his hand had healed and took the decision.

After one more defense against old dance partner Garcia, Kaplan departed for pastures new. Through the years he had spent more time fighting at 130lbs than at 126 but when he visited the division the result was carnage. With modern weight-making science on his side he would have turned the division into slaughterhouse.

25 – Owen Moran (52-16-6; Newspaper Decisions 18-3-2)

Owen Moran is perhaps the most challenging fighter to appear on this list from the point of view of placement.

On the one hand the Englishman is unquestionably storied having fought a wonderful career steeped in blood, his own, and that of the made men he tumbled against within the ring. Quick, difficult, awkward, fearless, if he had carried a true punch I suspect that Moran would have climbed to the absolute heights of boxing’s rich history; that said, is there a reason for a puncher to develop an art this nuanced? As the man once said, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

That aside, Moran lacks a signature win at featherweight. This is, in part, because the great achievements of his career were neatly trisected by bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight. The most astonishing run of his career, an unbeaten streak that stretched from September of 1904 until the end of 1909, straddled those three different divisions.

In that time, Moran did some impressive things but no incredible things. Most notably, he traded leather twice with the great world champion Abe Attell, both contests taking place in 1908. In their first meeting, Attell’s offense was sorely tested as he repeatedly failed to find “the vital spot” on a swarming, grabbing Moran who rushed behind his leads, cluttering the inside with a scrabbling attack.

Moran’s problem was that he couldn’t dominate the champion, instead swapping rounds with him in a fight that seems difficult to score. Referee Jim Jeffries saw it a draw, which was “received with approval except by violent partisans” according to The Salt Lake Tribune; the rematch, staged just three months later emerged in another draw despite Attell apparently winning more individual rounds, Moran’s aggressiveness the make-weight in keeping with the foibles of the era.

Both contests were rated disappointing affairs, not least due to Moran’s messy style, probably the correct strategic approach to these fights but not one that made it easy to crown him. Many of his other key wins from this time were achieved against lightweights like Matty Baldwin and Tommy Murphy; in pound-for-pound terms, then, Moran achieved much but at featherweight his resume is thin and his best results being draws (including one with Jim Driscoll), it is hard for me to see him any higher than the mid-twenties.

24 – Davey Moore (59-7-1)

As discussed above, Hogan Bassey’s title run ended when he met a better man who twice bested him; that man was Davey Moore (pictured with his left glove raised in his first meeting with Bassey).

Moore sneaked up on Bassey in the first fight, outclassed in the early rounds but landing a volley of left-hands in the sixth that turned the fight around. Badly cut and fighting in a fog of stinging jabs and hooks, Bassey was pulled by his corner after thirteen. Five months later Moore turned the trick again, this time after just ten, retiring Bassey in his corner for a second time. As the 1960s broke, the division had a new and worthy champion, “The Springfield Rifle.”

He kicked off the decade with some non-title affairs for walking around money which included a knockout of ranked man Sergio Caprari before taking on world number three Kazuo Takayama in Tokyo where he was made a clear winner behind a withering left jab to the body. Returning to Los Angeles for his next defense Moore pole-axed world number seven Danny Valdez with successive right hands in just a round. It was the first time Valdez had ever been stopped. Moore then went back out to Japan and repeated his domination of the game Takayama.

After one more defence against the under-qualified Olli Maki, Moore matched the superb Sugar Ramos. In lineal title fights, Moore was to go a wonderful 6-1. The “1” was to cost him; in his valiant defense of the title he lost his life inspiring a Bob Dylan song and many maudlin testimonies to his worthiness. He earned every one of them, not for the way he died but for the way he lived.

23 – Barry McGuigan (32-3)

Barry McGuigan was probably a couple of pounds north of natural at featherweight, most of his non-title contests creeping up towards 128lbs, but he had the discipline to make the 126lbs limit to fight for and defend the British title (2-0) and the European title (4-0) before making the move up in class to challenge for the legitimate world championship. The incumbent was Eusebio Pedroza, a god among feathers, a man who had amassed a record of 20-0 in alphabet title fights at the poundage. Pedroza travelled to London where McGuigan was already a hero to the British sporting public and to the fighting Irish both north and south of the border. Political trouble tore the Emerald Isle apart, but on fight night, a clear note of unity sounded among the discord. If ever a boxer carried the hopes and dreams of a nation to the ring with him on fight night it was McGuigan.

He did not let them down.

Pedroza’s plan was to get on his bike and jab but McGuigan brought pressure so fast and consistent that by the fourth, the champion is already being forced to stand and fight. Footwork, speed of thought and heart were the defining characteristics of McGuigan’s fight-plan, a fight which, by the beginning of the seventh, was on the edge of the knife. Pedroza opened brilliantly, dominating the action with a snaking jab, sound movement and a raking right to the body. But McGuigan was relentless and Pedroza was suddenly sleepwalking into his own corner, back to the ropes. McGuigan opened up his body and decked Pedroza with the best punch of his career.

The fight after that point was a series of thrilling rallies by the champion who was, nevertheless, unable to sustain three minutes of action. Always McGuigan was moving in on him, lashing rights to the body and, stunningly, holding his own in the battle of the jabs. The unanimous decision and the standing ovation he received in return was deserved.

Unbeaten American Bernard Taylor visited Belfast for McGuigan’s first defense and dominated early before the new champion’s brutal body-attack took its toll. Taylor failed to emerge for the ninth. His second defense was less impressive, an eventual stoppage of the inexperienced Danilo Cabrera before McGuigan lost his title to Steve Cruz out in the Las Vegas heat in 1986.

By then, he was already a legitimate British boxing legend; kick in pre-title wins over Juan Laporte and Jose Caba and you have a resume and skillset deserving of a top thirty placement.

22 – Battling Battalino (57-26-3)

Christopher Battaglia was born with a fine fighting name but apparently felt that it didn’t conjure up enough visions of mayhem for his purposes; and so he swapped it for the moniker Battling Battalino.  He earned that name, engendering enough chaos and savagery within the squared circle to justify his destructive appellation.

The result of that chaos was one of the finest win resumes in the history of the division. Battalino built that resume from 1929, beginning with a ten round win over former bantamweight king Panama Al Brown.  He continued to amass impressive victories for three bloody years, until disgrace and weight issues swept him from the division.

During his spell near the top he battered a total of four men who make this list and two who can be found in the top ten.  First up was Kid Chocolate in December of 1930, who he managed to maul out of his stride in taking a fifteen round decision.  Next was Fidel LaBarba in a fight in which he showed even greater control of a world class technician.  A third followed when he met the southpaw wonder that was Freddie Miller; Miller’s brilliant left-hand was lost in a blur of Battling leather.  Last was Earl Mastro, with whom he staged one of the great fights of the year 1931, the type of war he was born to win; he duly did so over ten vicious rounds.

Add made men like Bud Taylor and Andre Routis and it’s clear that Battalino has the makings of a top twenty resume: but he doesn’t quite make the top twenty.  This is because of an inconsistency at the poundage that saw him drop many losses, although it should be noted that most of these were at a higher weight than we would consider here.

Worse, he surrendered his strap tamely in what may have been an attempted fix from 1932, coming in hugely overweight and failing to give of his best in a rematch with Miller.

He was never allowed to fight for a championship again; a sad ending to one of the great mercurial careers.

21 – Prince Naseem Hamed (36-1)

The most pertinent question relating to the ranking of Prince Naseem Hamed is probably his position relative to Marco Antonio Barrera. Given that Barrera so brutalized Hamed, how can his ranking here be justified? The answer is simultaneously one of career path and consistency. To put it simply, Hamed beat more ranked contenders than Barrera beat featherweights.

Furthermore, despite suffering a great deal of criticism for his selected opposition, it is also a fact that Hamed did his business almost exclusively in the top five. His demolitions of Steve Robinson, Manuel Medina, Tom Johnson, Wilfredo Vazquez, Paul Ingle, Vuyani Bungu, his legendary war with Kevin Kelley and his clear decision over Cesar Soto were all conducted against opponents ranked in the divisional top five. He tore through more ranked opposition than anyone listed in this installment and possibly more top five ranked opposition than any featherweight, ever.

The dramatic style in which he did so, all low hands, jutting jaw and sudden, lunging, confounding punches, was almost hypnotic. Hamed is featherweight’s resident mongoose, stinging and hypnotizing his opposition into a disorganized demoralized rabble before descending upon them with a coup de grace as colorful and outlandish as his ridiculous ring entrances.

It’s true that he fell short when faced with the very best the sport had to offer him, but this is also true of one or two of the men ranked above him. While he dominated the division’s lesser lights he did so with the type of crackling electricity that manifests itself in the sport once in a generation.

There is a concentration of “once in a generation” talents next week in Part 4.

Argentina

The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Published

on

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).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 

Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

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

Published

on

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.”

DiBella

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 www.360promotions.us 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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

Published

on

retire

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 GMAnetwork.com’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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Trending