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The Strange Tale of Marvis Frazier, Bikers and Hot Dogs in the Ring

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strange stuff

If you cover boxing long enough, you’re apt to see a lot of strange stuff, and I have. A riot following a foul-filled disqualification where tensions between the opposing fan bases ran high (the first of two Riddick Bowe-Andrew Golota bouts, on July 11, 1996, in Madison Square Garden). A motorized white parachutist nearly landing in the ring and then being pummeled by walkie-talkie-wielding bodyguards for Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan during a heavyweight title bout (the middle episode of the three-fight Bowe-Evander Holyfield trilogy, on Nov. 6, 1993, at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace). And, perhaps most notably, a part of a heavyweight champion’s ear being gnawed off by his toothy opponent (the infamous “pay-per-chew” bout where an enraged and unhinged Mike Tyson went after Holyfield’s ear as if it were a filet mignon in their June 28, 1997, rematch at the MGM Grand in Vegas).

But there are other, less-high profile matches where the sights and sounds would seem to come straight out of the fertile imagination of Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone. Some of them I was able to chronicle for readers of my media outlet of the moment. But one, I wasn’t. Until now.

Inspired by the side journeys taken by my TSS colleague, Ted Sares, down some of boxing’s darker streets, the most recent being his mesmerizing profile of fighter-turned-Mafioso hit man Joe Barboza, I figure it’s time to finally tell the story of the last professional fight of the son of a renowned  heavyweight champion, a group of peeved and tattooed bikers, a beer-and-mustard-splashed television cameraman and a harried referee trying to kick hot dogs out of the ring even as the principals continued to pound away at one another amid the edible debris.

It all really happened the night of Oct. 27, 1988, in the sparsely attended Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Ariz. I would have loved to have written about it, too, for the amusement and edification of readers of my newspaper, the Philadelphia Daily News, except for a directive from the sports desk back in Philly to under no circumstances write more than my allotted 14 column inches because of space limitations. Faced with a quandary of choosing which way to go – telling the tale of the bikers, beer-soaked cameraman, hot dogs frantically kicked away by referee Ron Meyers and, oh, yes, round card girl who had ducked underneath the press table and nearly had her chin in my lap – I decided to devote those 14 inches to a straight report of what proved to be the final ring appearance by Marvis Frazier, son of the great “Smokin’” Joe Frazier (his trainer and chief cornerman), in which Marvis won a close and somewhat uneventful 10-round unanimous decision over Philipp Brown, a decently skilled journeyman with an impressive record.

To this day, I continue to wonder if I made the right call. But like Ted Sares, able to rummage through the attic of a lifetime of memories and come up with dusty gems like the one on Barboza, a good and true yarn told late is better than one never told at all.

Marvis Frazier, who turns 57 on Sept. 10, has unfortunately and unfairly been given short shrift as a boxer because he bore the heavy burden of forever being compared to his legendary father. But Marvis was the best and most accomplished male descendant of the fighting Fraziers’ family tree, a list that includes heavyweight Rodney Frazier, son of Joe’s sister Rebecca; super middleweight Mark Frazier, son of Joe’s brother Tom, and junior welterweight Hector Frazier, another of Joe’s sons who campaigned as “Joe Frazier Jr.” And although he was not a blood relative, some might recall that Tyrone Mitchell Frazier, a protégé of Smokin’ Joe who claimed  to be the great man’s nephew (with his tacit approval), once traveled to Bismarck, North Dakota, to challenge WBA light heavyweight titlist Virgil Hill. Although he lost a wide unanimous decision, the faux Frazier kin managed to go the distance. Also trying her hand at her dad’s demanding profession was Joe’s daughter, Jacqui “Sister Smoke” Frazier-Lyde, who went 13-1 with nine KOs and whose only loss was a majority decision against fellow celebrity daughter Laila Ali. Frazier-Lyde is now a municipal court judge in Philadelphia.

As an amateur trained by future Hall of Famer George Benton and Val Colbert, Marvis compiled an impressive 56-2 record, winning the 1999 National Golden Gloves title as a heavyweight. A bit taller than Joe at 6-0½, he was the spitting image of his father with one notable exception – he was more of a technician, a strong jabber with a solid defense, his more conservative style reflecting the values espoused by Benton, whose pupils included such accomplished champions as Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker and Meldrick Taylor.

Upon turning pro, however, Marvis – whose devotion to Joe was absolute, with that deep and abiding affection clearly returned in kind – turned his career over to his pop, whose method of training was to instruct all of his fighters to fight just as he had, always boring in and firing left hooks. The only problem was that Marvis might have had the right genes for such a sudden transformation, but was otherwise a poor fit to undergo a radical makeover.

Although Marvis earned a world rating, went 19-2 with eight victories inside the distance, several of his successes coming against such accomplished heavyweights as James Broad, Joe Bugner, Bernard Benton, James “Quick” Tillis and future WBA heavyweight champ James “Bonecrusher” Smith, he is best known for his two defeats – one-round blowouts against WBC heavyweight king Larry Holmes (Marvis was just 10-0 when he got a title shot he clearly was unprepared for) on Nov. 25, 1983, and a fast-rising force of nature in the big-man division, Mike Tyson, on July 26, 1986, in Glen Falls, N.Y. Tyson nearly decapitated the younger Frazier with a ripping right uppercut in the opening seconds of that bout, and connected with a couple of unnecessary follow-up shots as Marvis was sliding to the canvas. Elapsed time: 31 seconds, the fastest win recorded by Tyson in a career liberally dotted with quickies.

Prior to Marvis’ ill-fated go at Tyson, observer Lou Duva told New York Times boxing writer Phil Berger how and why he expected Frazier the Younger to fail.

“He’s a stubborn, opinionated guy. But a good guy,” Duva said of Joe. “But the question is does he book his fighters’ matchers from here (tapping his heart) or here (tapping his head). Who’s fighting the fight: Joe Frazier or his fighter? He’d like them to fight as good as Joe Frazier could. But there’s only one Joe Frazier.”

It appeared that the creeping realization he could never quite fill his Pop’s shoes that made Marvis’ fight against the 6-3, 218¼-pound Brown (Marvis actually outweighed the taller man by three-quarters of a pound) of special interest to followers of both Fraziers. Rumors already were beginning to circulate that Marvis’ heart had gone out of his impossible quest to join Joe at the top of the heavyweight mountain, and that the Brown fight might be his final appearance in the ring.

I was already booked for a somewhat extended trip out West – Thomas Hearns was to square off against James “The Heat” Kinchen for the vacant WBO super middleweight crown on Nov. 4, at the Las Vegas Hilton, with Sugar Ray Leonard taking on Donny Lalonde for Lalonde’s WBC light heavyweight title as well as the vacant WBC super middleweight belt three days later at Caesars Palace – so why not, I suggested to my executive sports editor, Mike Rathet, let me head to Tucson a few days earlier for Frazier-Brown, which could have significant implications for the Philadelphia fight scene? Rathet said OK, so off I went

Frazier-Brown was not the main event – former WBC featherweight champion Juan LaPorte’s defense of his NABF super featherweight belt against Lupe Miranda was – but Marvis’ fight was the opening half of a regionally televised doubleheader. It was the delayed arrival of a determined and hardy cameraman that set the stage for the (mostly) off-TV drama that helped nudge Frazier-Brown, at least to on-site spectators who knew what was going on, into a production of the theater of the absurd.

Seated directly behind one of the neutral corners were several biker types, perhaps mistakenly identified as such by their full beards, bandanas, wide array of tattoos and apparel that suggested all were members of the same motorcycle club. They were obviously fight fans, and no one could dispute that they were enjoying the action during the non-televised undercard bouts. But their collective mood grew surlier as the cameraman mounted the ring apron for Frazier-Brown, blocking their view. And by the time two of their buddies returned from the concession stand with cardboard trays laden with cups of beer and hot dogs, the situation seemingly was heading toward critical mass. Concession items don’t come cheaply, but that didn’t stop the biker guys from dousing the cameraman with beer and pelting him with frankfurters. The poor guy had mustard in his hair and he smelled like a brewery. All this happened just a few yards away from where I was sitting as one of just two members on press row (the other was a young guy from the Arizona Daily Star) and the round-card girls, who weren’t digging developments.

Apparently unaware of what was going on outside the ropes,Marvis and Brown were fighting their way toward the problem area. Across the way, a phalanx of rent-a-cops (arena security guards, not regular police) was forming to confront the bikers. One of the round-card girls, anticipating Armageddon, had crawled under the press table without properly introducing herself to me despite our sudden proximity. The referee, Meyers, had the unenviable task of trying to follow the give-and-take between Marvis and Brown while kicking the hot dogs away, as if he were practicing field goals. When I watched the YouTube replay of the fight on Thursday night, Meyers’ fancy footwork is clearly visible, although the TV commentators chose not to mention why hot dogs had made their way onto the canvas or why the cameraman appeared to have shampooed with yellow mustard.

Fortunately, because of the far-from-capacity crowd, an arena official offered to move the biker guys to comparable seats where their view would be unobstructed. They agreed to move, avoiding a confrontation that the rent-a-cops and at least one round-card girl were fervently hoping would never advance beyond the theoretical.

The postfight interviews – Marvis prevailed on the scorecards by margins of 96-94 (despite being docked a point in the sixth round by Meyers for low blows), 96-95 and 95-94 – stuck to the straight and narrow. “He ain’t bruised, he ain’t bumped, so let’s go,” said Joe, who seemingly was anxious for Marvis to fight again as soon as possible. “This game is for hit men only. What Marvis needs is to get right back to the gym. If he’s going to fight, he needs to fight.”

For his part, Marvis expressed the same eagerness to keep on keeping on. “I need the work,” he said. “If it was up to me, I’d fight every three or four weeks … enough to get my sharpness back.”

Seven months after edging Brown, Marvis had yet to fight again, although he never did get around to formally announcing a retirement. It wasn’t until many years later, long past the point where he might have considered a comeback, that he acknowledged the obvious. “Pop said when it starts feeling like a job, do something else,” he said. “It started feeling like a job. You got to know when to get out of the game. It didn’t feel like I was there. The spirit left me.”

At various times, Marvis also repeated the mantra that had originated with Joe about why the fight game isn’t for everybody, and shouldn’t be unless there is a full commitment to the demanding task at hand. “You can get your brain shook, your money took and your name in the undertaker’s book,” both Fraziers noted.

Joe, beset with physical problems, was 67 when passed away on Nov. 7, 2011. His memorial service was attended by 3,500 admirers, including Muhammad Ali, Don King, Jesse Jackson and other notables. Marvis became an ordained preacher, ministering to prison inmates and also working as a security guard. Forever the dutiful son, he never questioned the wisdom, or lack thereof, of Joe’s tinkering with the style that had made him so successful in the amateur ranks. Few fighters have lived their lives with as much class and dignity as he has.

I couldn’t track down Meyers for his memories of what had to be the most unusual in his abbreviated, 20-bout refereeing career. He worked only one more bout after Frazier-Brown. And speaking of Brown, who entered the ring that night in Tucson with a 31-2-2 (18) record, the loss to Marvis was the first in a streak of 10 consecutive defeats to close out his career, although no one can accuse him of looking for soft touches; some of the guys who beat him down the stretch included Riddick Bowe, Jorge Luis Gonzalez, Mike “Hercules” Weaver, Johnny Du Plooy, Pierre Coetzer, James Broad and Joe Hipp. The attractive round-card girl who crawled under the press table very well might be a grandma by now, telling the kiddies her own version of what happened the night of Oct. 22, 1988, and the bikers’ beards likely have gone gray as they now park their posteriors in rocking chairs instead of on the seats of Harley-Davidsons.

Boxing, like life, rolls on like a river to the sea. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something comes along that breaks new ground. Sometimes, that ground even is covered with hot dogs.

Editor’s Note: Joe Frazier stands between Marvis Frazier and the late James Shuler in this 1980 photo.

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

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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.

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

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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.

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