Connect with us

Canada & Usa

The “Lone Star Cobra” Was Special But Didn’t Fulfill His Vast Potential

Published

on

Cobra

When Donald Curry, the “Lone Star Cobra,” was at his best, which was exceptionally good, he gave no thought of someday being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame because no such place then existed. The IBHOF officially opened its doors on June 10, 1989, and its first induction class was enshrined exactly one year later, both momentous occasions in the picturesque, central New York village of Canastota predating Curry’s two world championship reigns.

But Curry is now 56, retired and largely forgotten, except as a wistful figure that stood on the precipice of greatness and, for reasons that make sense only to him, found a way to leave unfulfilled the vast potential that once portended sustained success.

On the very night of his career highlight, his two-round demolition of Milton McCrory in their welterweight unification showdown at the Las Vegas Hilton on Dec. 6, 1985, HBO analyst Larry Merchant spoke for many in predicting the brightest of futures for the WBA and IBF welterweight champion, who in short order would violently snatch McCrory’s WBC belt.

“Milton McCrory (then 27-0 with 22 KOs) is a champion, and champions are hard to beat,” Merchant told his HBO viewing audience. “And he’s unbeaten, and an unbeaten fighter is hard to beat. His hit-and-run tactics just might neutralize Curry. If he were to give Curry the fight of his life, it wouldn’t register on the Richter Scale as a major shock. Yet the bottom line on the (betting) line is this: McCrory is regarded as a good fighter. Curry is regarded as possibly a great fighter.”

Greatness seemed to be more than a mere possibility for Curry, a 24-year-old boxer-puncher from Fort Worth, Texas, as he swiftly demolished McCrory, a tall and gangly Kronk Gym stablemate and stylistic approximation of the more celebrated Thomas Hearns.

The first round wasn’t half-over when Curry wobbled and hurt McCrory with a ripping left hook that sent him reeling back into the ropes. Although McCrory somehow made it to the bell, his prospects of surviving long enough to make a real fight of it were quickly dashed. Curry went after his fellow 147-pound titlist as if he were a tiger pouncing on a slab of raw meat. Another left hook upstairs sent McCrory crashing to the canvas and, although he beat the count, he was like a man on the deck of a ship tossed on a turbulent sea. Seconds later Curry connected with a crushing overhand right to the jaw that put McCrory flat on his back, his eyes glazed and unfocused. Not that it was necessary, but referee Mills Lane went through the formality of a 10-count. He could have counted to 50 and McCrory still would have been prone.

With that scintillating performance, there were more than a few knowledgeable fight people who were prepared to anoint Donald Curry (then 26-0, 21 KOs) as the finest pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Truth be told, Curry held a similarly exalted opinion of himself.

But at the apex of a boxing life that seemed poised to take off like a NASA moon launch, Curry made the most basic and foolish of mistakes. He began imagining all the high-prestige, big-money fights that soon would be coming to him as his just due, instead of paying serious attention to any other truly dangerous opponents, if less renowned, he might face.

That reckoning would not be against Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Aaron Pryor or Hearns, all of whom Curry had envisioned as stepping stones on his way to ring immortality, not to mention the guaranteed seven-figure paydays he perceived as the most legitimate certification of superstardom. It would be against an undefeated Englishman by way of his native Jamaica who should not have been taken lightly, but whom Curry mistakenly thought of as a mere speed bump instead of the presumably more imposing hurdles he already had begun mentally preparing to clear.

After summarily disposing of the outclassed Eduardo Rodriguez in two rounds in his first post-McCrory title defense, Curry was next paired with top-ranked Lloyd Honeyghan (then 27-0, 17 KOs), in a bout scheduled to take place on Sept. 27, 1986, at Caesars Atlantic City. Some observers – mostly those from the United Kingdom – saw Honeyghan as a live underdog. A dismissive Curry figured otherwise.

“I fought off of motivation,” Curry said when contacted for this story. “If I thought that you were a real threat to my career, I’m going to work my butt off to get ready to fight you. That guy, all I knew is that he was named Honey something. I didn’t really know who he was. After the Milton McCrory fight, I was looking for something bigger and better. That was my attitude.

“They told me he was ranked No. 1 (by the WBC), but I didn’t really follow the ratings. His name didn’t ring any bells with me. My idea was to defend my title against him and move on to that really big fight I wanted. I wasn’t mentally ready that night. If I had been, beating that Honey guy would have been no problem.”

Curry’s lack of focus in his preparations for the Honeyghan fight was exacerbated by the death of his beloved grandfather. Not only that, but he was embroiled in a managerial dispute with David Gorman, whose contract with Curry was to expire three days after the fight with Honeyghan. But Curry’s choice as his new manager, Akbar Muhammad, wanted Gorman to remain involved as the co-manager, and although Gorman declined to share those duties, he consented to be part of Curry’s corner team.

It was an uncomfortable situation all around, and may have contributed to an undertrained, admittedly distracted Curry needing to lose 11 pounds three days before the fight. Although some sports books had pegged Curry such a prohibitive favorite that they would not post a betting line, one that did accepted a $5,000 wager Honeyghan made on himself at 5-1 odds.

“I’m going to smash his face in,” Honeyghan said of the undisputed welterweight champion who had shown him so little respect.

By the fifth round, a “weak and sluggish” (his words) Curry was running on empty and, late in round six, an accidental head-butt opened a gash over his left eye. Returning to his corner, he advised his handlers that he was through, a message which was agreed to on medical grounds by two ring physicians whose recommendation to halt the proceedings was acted upon by referee Octavio Meyran.

Curry was through, all right, but in ways no one could then have imagined. The “Lone Star Cobra,” a legend in the making and still only 25, would never be quite the same fighter again.

“I had just recently beat, and easy, the top guy in the division (McCrory), so my thinking was, so who is this guy (Honeyghan)?” a reflective Curry said 31-plus years after the fact. “All right, so he was my mandatory. I should have prepared harder for him. But my feeling was that I’d get my mandatory in, no problem, and then go on to something bigger and better. If they had told me more about him, I know I would have been more ready to do what needed to be done.

“Looking back, I blame my management for what happened. But it is what it is. I had to move on, and I have. I’m good with it.”

Well … maybe he’s not all that good with the way things eventually played out. For a time Curry moved on well enough to remind fight fans of what he had been, and might again become. On July 8, 1988, he again claimed a world title when he wrested the WBC super welterweight belt from Gianfranco Rosi on Rosi’s home turf of San Remo, Italy. Rosi went down three times before he quit on his stool after the ninth round.

Curry was back on top, but at it turned out not for long. After a stay-busy fifth-round stoppage of Mike Sacchetti on Jan. 3, 1989, in New Orleans, he journeyed to Grenoble, France, to defend his 154-pound belt against Frenchman Rene Jacquot. But in a virtual replay of the Honeyghan disaster, Curry was listless and ineffective in a unanimous-decision loss. That fight was named The Ring magazine’s Upset of the Year, the second time Curry was on the wrong end of such a shocker, the first being his dethronement by Honeyghan.

This time there would be no redemptive, reputation-restoring comeback. In the three crossroads bouts during the remainder of his career, he was knocked out in 10 rounds by IBF middleweight champion Michael Nunn, in eight rounds by WBC super welterweight ruler Terry Norris and, finally, in seven rounds by Emmett Linton for the vacant and fringe IBA junior middleweight belt.

Curry has been on the IBHOF’s ballot for years, but despite a mostly impressive 34-6 record with 25 victories inside the distance, voters have seemingly determined that his prime was too abbreviated to have a plaque hung alongside those who had more staying power at the elite level. But it can be argued that there are Hall of Famers whose best work never quite approached the periodic masterpieces authored by Donald Curry.

“At the time he beat McCrory I believe he was just as good as Hearns and Leonard,” said Roy Foreman, George’s younger brother and a fellow Texan who believes Curry should receive more credit for however much time he did have as a premier practitioner of the pugilistic arts. “I think he was the absolute best that night.”

Speaking about the times he stubbed his toe against Honeyghan and Jacquot – and against Mike McCallum (to whom he lost twice), Nunn, Norris and Linton, for that matter – is not how Curry wishes to stroll down memory lane. His natural inclination is to keep revisiting his signature performance, when he took apart McCrory as a child might take apart a set of Lincoln logs.

“Knocking out Milton McCrory the way I did should have brought me immediate stardom,” he said. “Milton McCrory was a good fighter, a guy who had the WBC title and was unbeaten. He wasn’t no potato chip fighter. Milton could fight. When you did what I did against Milton McCrory, that’s when management needs to step up. When it doesn’t, it takes away from your spirit as a fighter.”

It is Curry’s contention that the McCrory victory should have vaulted him into a series of megafights that would have continuously fueled his occasionally flagging motivation, the first disappointment coming when he qualified to represent the United States in the 1980 Olympic Games, which the U.S. boycotted in retaliation for the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Excuses never play well with any listening audience, and it seems certain Curry will never ascribe any significant blame for his failure to live up to his early rave reviews by looking into a mirror.

As to what he is doing now, Curry (whose older brother, Bruce, was a WBC super lightweight champ who compiled a 34-8 record with 17 KOs) said, “I’m really just relaxing, resting my body, resting my mind. I think I understand boxing better now. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it.”

The emergence of another excellent welterweight from the Dallas Metroplex area, IBF champion Errol Spence Jr., has popularized boxing there again, and has Curry thinking that maybe it’s time to get involved in the sport he walked away from with the intention of never looking back.

“Toward the end of my career my motivation wasn’t really that high,” he said. “I was doing other things rather than just concentrating on boxing. I was ready to get on with the next stage of my life.

“Whenever I go out, I still get recognized, not that I go out that much anymore. I run sometimes at night. It’s not that I’m trying to hide from anything; I’m just trying to get my mind and body back in  fighting mode, so if I do go back, maybe as a trainer, I’ll be able to give young fighters what they need to be able to prosper.”

And if Curry ever does get a call from the IBHOF?

“I’d be ecstatic,” he said. “Every fighter would love to be in the Hall of Fame because it would make him feel that he did something special.”

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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

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