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The Hauser Report: “Big Baby” Takes a Baby Step Forward

are at the top. After that, it’s anyone’s ballgame. Twenty-nine-year-old Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (now 20-0-1, 18 KOs) wants the ball.

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Jarrell

Boxing’s heavyweight division is wide open. Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder – two exciting but flawed fighters – are at the top. After that, it’s anyone’s ballgame. Twenty-nine-year-old Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (now 20-0-1, 18 KOs) wants the ball.

Miller has a massive torso, huge arms, and thighs that conjure up images of giant oak trees. Fast twitch muscle fiber isn’t his thing. Think clubbing heavy-handed blows.

Miller projects BIG. Big personality, big mouth, 6-feet-4-inches, close to 300 pounds of big. Two years ago, he was fighting at 255 pounds. On July 29 of this year, he weighed in at 299 to fight Gerald Washington (KO 8).

Jarrell’s frame hasn’t filled out as much as it’s overflowing. He’s built more like an NFL offensive lineman than what we’re accustomed to seeing in an elite fighter. But viewers don’t walk away from the TV screen and go to the kitchen to make a sandwich when Miller is fighting. He has charisma. He hits and gets hit. He’s making noise in boxing, not just with his mouth but with his fists.

On November 11, Miller fought Mariusz Wach (33-2, 17 KOs) in the middle bout of an HBO tripleheader at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Eddie Hearn, who promotes Joshua and has built inflatable slip and slide Matchroom Boxing into the most powerful promotional company in the United Kingdom, was the man in charge. Hearn is planning to open an office in New York with a dozen employees in 2018. This was a trial run of sorts.

Danny Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) vs. Luis Arias (18-0, 9 KOs) was styled as the main event. At the start of this year, Jacobs was defined by two fights in the ring and one out of it. The larger battle was a successful struggle in 2011 against osteosarcoma, a life-threatening form of bone cancer that had wrapped a tumor around his spine. The in-ring battles were a July 31, 2010, knockout defeat at the hands of Dmitry Pirog and a first-round KO of Peter Quillin on December 5, 2015.

Then, at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2017, Jacobs came out on the short end of a razor-thin decision in a middleweight championship bout against Gennady Golovkin. One should be wary of over-evaluating fighters based on a loss. But in losing to Golovkin, Jacobs forced a reevaluation of his skills and chin, which had been questioned since the loss to Pirog.

Arias, an 8-to-1 underdog, worked hard in the pre-fight promotion to raise his profile above that of a fungible opponent.

“I’m the young kid from Wisconsin that nobody knows,” Arias told the media. “Everyone thinks I’m coming in to lose. But if you look at his record, there’s nobody there that he beat. You can build a fighter up and make him look a lot better than he really is. You keep him away from punchers. You keep him away from boxers. You keep him away from legitimate threats. The tough fights that I see, he lost. This is a mixture of me being underrated and him being overrated. Daniel Jacobs is going to be in a dogfight, a very hard fight. I’m going to rough him up and be in his face all night. I want a war.”

“It’s kind of hard to listen to him,” Jacobs said in response. “He can talk a good one. But at the end of the day, it’s about what you do inside the ring. People aren’t praising me for going twelve rounds with Gennady Golovkin. Let’s not get that confused. If they’re praising me, they’re praising me for the fact that they believe that I won the fight. Talk outside the ring is good for promotion. But then the fight starts and there are levels to this game. I’m on a much higher level than Arias.”

Meanwhile, Miller-Wach shaped up as the most intriguing fight of the night.

Miller has lived most of his life in Brooklyn, which has led him to proclaim, “Brooklyn has a pedigree, the homestead for some of the world’s greatest heavyweight boxers. You’ve seen Riddick Bowe. You’ve seen Mike Tyson. You’ve seen Shannon Briggs. I’m next in line.”

Jarrell also advised the media, “I’m the Big Baby, but I’m going to give Wach the pacifier and put him in the crib. There is nothing like Big Baby. No one throws as many punches, and I knock people out. Trust me, I’m not worried about him. I’ll make it easy on him and get him out quick. Wach is going to be just another guy that I crush.”

That said, Wach was a good measuring stick for Miller. Mariusz’s only losses were a decision defeat at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko in 2012 and a stoppage on cuts against Alexander Povetkin in 2015. He’s not a big puncher, but he’s big (268 pounds), tall (6-feet-7-inches), and durable.

“This is a big night in Jarrell Miller’s career,” Eddie Hearn said two days before the fight. “If he beats Wach, he can be a world-class heavyweight. If he destroys Wach, he can be an elite heavyweight. We’ll see what’s real and not real on Saturday night.”

Dressed in black, Jarrell Miller entered his dressing room at Nassau Coliseum on fight night at 7:50 pm.

The room was small and irregularly shaped, fifteen feet wide and a bit longer. It looked more like a renovated studio apartment than a fighter’s dressing room.

Four cushioned folding metal chairs were lined up on a finely-sanded hardwood floor. Two formica-topped credenzas would serve as seats for Jarrell and most of his team in the hours ahead. There was a small sink, a refrigerator, faux fireplace, and large TV monitor. Several framed lithographs graced the light-gray walls. A large mirror was mounted above a faux marble vanity table at the far end of the room.

Jarrell posed for smartphone photos with several team members, sat on top of one of the credenzas, and opened a bottle of Muscle Milk protein shake.

Then he began texting.

The HBO telecast was scheduled to start at ten o’clock with Cletus Seldin vs. Roberto Ortiz in the opening bout. Miller had been told to be ready to walk by 10:15 in the event of a quick knockout.

A New York State Athletic Commission inspector led Jarrell from the dressing room to a medical tent for his final pre-fight physical. While the fighter was gone, rap artist Leonard Grant (better known as Uncle Murda) entered and took a seat. Later, he would lead Jarrell to the ring.

Jarrell returned, sat on the credenza, and resumed texting.

Trainer Harry Keitt left to watch Wach’s hands being wrapped.

There was quiet conversation. Music played intermittently depending on Jarrell’s mood of the moment. Occasionally, he sipped from a bottle of water. Just before nine o’clock, he lay down on the credenza using his leather groin protector as a pillow and closed his eyes.

Keitt returned.

Jarrell rose from the credenza and sat on one of the folding chairs. Assistant trainer Aureliano Sosa began taping his hands, right hand first. Ten minutes later, the task was done. Jarrell lay down on the credenza again, alternately texting and relaxing with his eyes closed.

David Fields, who would referee Miller-Wach, came in to give Jarrell his pre-fight instructions.

Eddie Hearn and Dmitriy Salita (Miller’s co-promoter) paid their respects.

At 9:40, Jarrell rose from the credenza like a man getting out of bed, took off his black track suit, and put on his boxing shoes.

Curtis Jackson (a/k/a 50 Cent) entered. Jarrell jumped to his feet and embraced the rap impressario. Then, as long as he was on his feet, he shadow-boxed for thirty seconds before sitting down on the credenza again. Shortly before ten o’clock, he stretched briefly on the floor with the aid of a team member before putting on his groin protector and trunks.

Harry Keitt gloved him up.

Jarrell hit the pads briefly with Aureliano Sosa, shouting as he punched.

“Nobody beats me!”

“No chance!” the chorus responded.

“Nobody beats me!”

“No chance!”

“What time is it?” Keitt demanded.

“Miller time!”

“What time is it?”

“Miller time.”

Seldin-Ortiz ended on a third-round stoppage.

Jarrell’s friend and publicist Alvina Alston led the group in prayer.

Miller put on his robe, walked the length of the room, and examined his image in the mirror above the vanity table.

It was time.

The fight itself was a disappointment for Miller’s partisans. Jarrell had weighed in at 283.4 pounds, which led them to believe that he was in better shape than he’d been for his knockout victory over Gerald Washington fifteen weeks earlier. But he didn’t look like an elite heavyweight.

Wach gave away his advantage in reach and height, allowing Miller to fight at close quarters for most of the bout. Jarrell went to the body throughout, which is a commitment he usually makes. But Mariusz takes a good punch. And Jarrell has clubbing power, not one-punch knockout power, which enabled Wach to stay on his feet.

As in past fights, Miller’s defense was flawed. But he showed a good chin. And when Wach landed, Mariusz didn’t have the power to exploit Jarrell’s defensive liabilities.

Midway through the bout, Wach injured his right hand. From round seven on, he was a one-handed fighter. One minute into round nine, NYSAC chief medical officer Nitin Sethi appropriately intervened to stop the fight. Miller outlanded Wach in every round en route to a 204-to-95 CompuBox advantage.

After the bout, much of the attention in Jarrell’s dressing room was focused on the TV monitor that showed Danny Jacobs doing battle against Luis Arias. On paper, Arias hadn’t posed much of a threat to Jacobs. He didn’t in the ring either. Jacobs cruised to a unanimous-decision triumph.

“I expected more from Jarrell tonight,” Harry Keitt said. “But he did what he had to do.”

Miller’s self-evaluation was similar.

“Nobody looks good against Wach,” Jarrell offered. “And I didn’t either. I was a little sloppy in there; I know that. I never really found my rhythm. And I hurt my elbow in training camp so it was hard for me to snap my jab. It is what it is. A win is a win.”

As for what comes next; Miller-Wach was part of a two-fight HBO deal for Jarrell with the network having a right of first negotiation and last refusal on a third bout. It’s expected that Miller and Jacobs will fight next on another HBO card in March or April 2018, most likely at Barclays Center. After that, who knows?

Prior to the final pre-fight press conference for the November 11 fight card, Eddie Hearn was besieged with questions from reporters, none of whom asked about Miller or Jacobs. All of the inquiries were about the possibility of a showdown between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

Joshua may or may not want to fight Wilder. And even if he does, Deontay’s team might price themselves out of the negotiations. WBO belt-holder Joseph Parker could too.

“Parker wants crazy money,” Hearn noted. “For that fight to be made, we have to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. Parker has virtually no value outside of New Zealand and Australia, but the belt does. You have to overpay because he has a belt. The question is, by how much?”

Also, depending on how the chips fall in the next six months, there’s easy money for Joshua to make by fighting Tyson Fury or David Haye in the United Kingdom.

Within that framework, Miller’s most likely route to facing Joshua would be a spring 2018 fight against Dillian Whyte (also promoted by Eddie Hearn).

How will Jarrell do when he steps up in class? There are things he has to improve upon, and it’s no secret what they are.

Jarrell is slow. There’s not much he can do about that. He can be outslicked. As he moves up in class, his success will depend to a great degree on his ability to take punches. Big ones and the accumulation of small blows. But he has to do a better job of protecting his chin.

Deontay Wilder might not have a good chin. But he protects it better than Miller does.

Also, Jarrell doesn’t get maximum leverage on his punches or put his weight into them as effectively as he might. And while he’s a huge strong guy, he’s not physical enough on the inside. When Miller gets inside, he should be leaning on opponents, shaking them, tugging at them, wearing them down.

Some boxing insiders have compared Jarrell to Riddick Bowe, which would be a compliment were it not followed by, “He’s the laziest fighter with talent I’ve seen since Bowe.”

Miller weighed in fifteen pounds lighter for Wach than he had for his previous fight. And he made a point of telling the media, “I haven’t had a cheeseburger in two months.” But that didn’t mean he was in better shape.

There’s a level of preparation that involves sophisticated nutritional monitoring and grueling, carefully-calibrated physical conditioning that can transform a fighter’s body into a more effective delivery system for the skills he has. Jarrell has to take himself there.

In that regard, it wasn’t reassuring that, in the dressing room after the Wach fight, Miller declared, “I felt I was stronger and performed better when I was heavier.”

There’s a line that separates confidence from complacency and foolishness.

And finally, there’s a nagging issue that dates back to 2014 when Miller was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for methylhexaneamine following a Glory 17 kickboxing event. More recently, he was removed from the WBC rankings because of his refusal to participate in the WBC’s VADA-supervised Clean Boxing Program. The WBA now appears poised to institute its own drug-testing program with VADA, which could endanger Jarrell’s top-ten ranking with that organization.

At the kick-off press conference for Miller-Wach, Jarrell told the assembled media, “If you know anything about the streets and boxing, you know it takes a long time to get to where I’m at.”

It would be foolish for Jarrell to blow things now by giving less than his best effort when he’s so close to success.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – There Will Always Be Boxing  – was just published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

Check out more boxing news and features at The Sweet Science

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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).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 

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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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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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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