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The Fifty Greatest Bantamweights of All Time: Part Two, 40-31

Most fascinating to me about Part Two is the rude intrusion of no fewer than four great flyweights into the bantamweight mix.

At first, I was surprised, and even a little alarmed by this, as though their grouping was part of some unconscious

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Most fascinating to me about Part Two is the rude intrusion of no fewer than four great flyweights into the bantamweight mix.

At first, I was surprised, and even a little alarmed by this, as though their grouping was part of some unconscious bias either for or against them, but in fact their bunching together like this makes sense. Each of these men did the most serious damage of his career down at flyweight and for a variety of reasons was limited as to the years he spent at the higher weight.

I have always thought of the leap from bantamweight to featherweight was physically the most difficult in old-school boxing, with flyweight to bantamweight a close second, so these men are to be admired for the mark they made at the poundage.

There was, after all, some stiff competition.

#40 – Alan Rudkin (1962-1972)

“It is widely believed,” states the Merseyside Former Boxers Association’s website, “that Alan Rudkin would have become a champion had any of his [title] fights been on home soil.”

This is not quite accurate, but you do know what they mean.

It’s unlikely that home soil would have made a lick of difference for his third and final tilt at the title against Ruben Olivares in December of 1969. As was his wont, Olivares obliterated the Brit, without difficulty and in less than two rounds. Rudkin did good work in the short time he remained a professional after this brutal destruction, but he would never again fight for the world championship.

Rudkin’s first title fight was a different matter. Back in 1965 he travelled to Japan for a meeting with perhaps the single greatest swarming boxer in history, Fighting Harada. In terms of territory and opposition, things could hardly be tougher.

Rudkin fought with all the desire of a man fleeing the Liverpool docks where his professional life might have taken him had he not been so blessed. He stayed right with Harada throughout. I have never seen so many arguable rounds in a fifteen round contest.  In the end though, Harada was busier and a little quicker and that was enough. The MFA probably have an argument here though; there were so many tight rounds that a reasonable scorecard could probably be produced for the Englishman.

His second title fight came against the wonderful Lionel Rose out in Australia and he may have run the champion even closer on this occasion, staging a wonderful rally in the final rounds but dropping a split decision to the Australian fighter. I’m going to go ahead and guess that Rudkin would have received the nod in Liverpool.

But it was not to be. Such was Rudkin’s quality that he earned three title shots in his career. Such was his luck that he had to contest them with Harada, Rose and Olivares. The bantamweights who could have earned the championship in such circumstances can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.

A victory over a handful of top contenders in combination with this hard luck story sees him crack the top 40.

#39 – Joe Bowker (1899-1919)

Joe Bowker, one of Britain’s best unheralded titlists, got his start in boxing at a time when gumshields were buried in the distant future and the gloves he wore to protect his hands were around the same weight as the ones you use when the weather is chilly. So let’s just agree that he was tough and move on.

But Bowker also reads as a brilliant pugilist. Harry Harris named him cleverer than even the famous “Box O Tricks”, Pedlar Palmer; when the two met, so it proved to be, the young Bowker tracking down and stopping his more senior peer in 1905 in twelve rounds up at featherweight.

This combination of toughs and smarts were what Bowker relied upon to bring him a version of the world title in 1903 when he crushed Al Fellows with a steady stream of abuse which culminated in a ninth round stoppage. He turned away a young Owen Moran the following year, proving himself the best bantamweight on these British Isles and after staging one more defense began his dalliance with featherweight.

He did return to the division in 1910 to become European champion, but a second claim for the world title was halted by Digger Stanley. Unquestionably the best of a very good crop of English bantams, Bowker never achieved true recognition as some less impressive fighters passed the true title between them over the Atlantic. Sadly, by the time Bowker visited America it was as a small featherweight rather than as an elite bantamweight.

#38 – Newsboy Brown (1921-1933)

The wonderful Newsboy Brown was born in Russia and arrived on American shores while still in his crib.  LA became his base of operations for assaults on the flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight world titles.

At bantamweight, he met with limited success. He held no world championship, a feat he accomplished at flyweight, was served no title shot, a reward he was justly granted at featherweight, but he did beat a world champion, and one of the great ones.

An underdog, the smaller man, fouled throughout by a master of the dark arts, Newsboy Brown took the fight to Panama Al Brown in the tenth and final round of their 1931 non-title fight. It was enough to gain him the decision and to see him installed as the #1 contender to the title.

But Newsboy Brown let it all slip. Just forty days later he matched Young Tommy, an excellent bantamweight who he had previously defeated over ten in LA. In their second encounter, Brown was thrashed – some sources have him losing all ten rounds the two contested.  It is tempting to accuse Panama Al Brown of ducking Newsboy, but it was easy for the champion to sidestep him given the depths of his performance against Tommy.

And therein lies the rub with Brown. He was inconsistent at the highest level, at flyweight and at bantamweight.  He went 1-1 with Speedy Dado, he went 1-1 with Eugene Huat, and he went 1-1 with Tommy; the only ranked contender he proved himself the inarguable superior of was Archie Bell.

Scrappy, skilled, aggressive, with a fiery body attack, he could be found by quality opposition, and sometimes he stayed found.

#37 – Abe Goldstein (1916-1927)

Just like Newsboy, key to New Yorker Abe Goldstein’s legacy was a victory over Panama Al Brown. It is perhaps a little unfair to deduce too much as regards Brown as he was just another ranked fighter at this point in his career, yet to make his legend. On the other hand, Goldstein appeared washed up having won just three of his last ten and none of his last four.

So this was a delicious late-career rally. Out-reached by a taller, faster, longer fighter he nevertheless out-boxed him from distance, “fairly easily” according to the Brooklyn Eagle which also made a point of referring to him as “the handsome Abe Goldstein.”

Those matinee looks did Goldstein no harm but far more crucial was his skill as a sharpshooter. He was no runner, but closed with opponents and looked to out-pick them. The combination of his good looks, Jewish background and direct but cultured style made him something of a fan-favorite for a spell and catapulted him into a strange title shot on very short notice in 1923. Champion Joe Lynch was stripped of his crown when he pulled out of a fight with Joe Burman on the very day of the contest; Goldstein stepped in and put on a wonderful display of right-hand punching, whereupon he was awarded the decision and the title.

This raised a question: did Lynch remain the lineal champion, or should Goldstein now be recognized?

Goldstein did the right thing and at the beginning of 1924 matched Lynch, winning another fifteen round decision. He rode a bolt of lucky lightning in grasping fistic immortality but screwed down on his position in his first defense; two further defenses followed against strong opposition before Eddie Martin outpointed him at the Garden at which point Goldstein’s form dropped off a cliff – barring that wonderful victory over Brown.

Goldstein was clearly brilliant but was often criticized for perceived timidity. Certainly he failed to make the fight in his 1922 fight with Pancho Villa, a damaging fifteen round loss.  Even in their first fight, earlier that same year, a win, there were question marks over his aggression and his stomach for a hard fight.

Still, his being 4-1 in legitimate world title fights guarantees the man Ray Arcel called “my first and favorite champion” a spot.

#36 – Rodolfo Martinez (1965-1979)

There are several Mexicans in this installment and there are also many fighters who were inconsistent at the highest level – capable of beating world class opposition but not consistently.

Rodolfo Martinez was both.  And he never gave up.

He got his first tilt at the great bantamweight champion Rafael Herrera in 1971 when both were just ranked contenders. The fight was desperately close, ending in a majority decision for Herrera. A flash knockdown in the second was the difference between them but it was enough to send Herrera on the road to championship honours whilst Martinez continued to toil in a desperate pack of well matched contenders.  Herrera gave his old foe a rematch in 1973 with title honors on the line.  By this time, Herrera had summitted and although cut, bleeding from the nose, occasionally battered by his endlessly persistent countryman, he achieved victory over Martinez by way of twelfth round stoppage.

Still Martinez did not give up the chase, cornering his nemesis one more time in 1974. Herrera had by this time dropped his titles to Enrique Pinder and was, perhaps, past his absolute prime.  Martinez took full advantage, scoring something of a controversial stoppage in the fourth. If there was an element of luck to this great victory, he had earned it.

Martinez collected scalps around his three fight war with Herrera, chief among them Kazuyoshi Kanazawa, the number four contender who he stopped in four rounds, and Venice Borkhorser, the formidable former flyweight kingpin with whom he shared a desperate fifteen round encounter in 1976.

One of many fighters to be completely unmanned by Carlos Zarate he bled out his best in that torrid fight. A beltholder rather than a true champion, he was one of the best contenders in one of the most heavily stacked bantamweight divisions in history.

#35- Jimmy Wilde (1911-1923)

It surprised me that Jimmy Wilde, “The Mighty Atom” is placed third of the four career flyweights that have gatecrashed the top forty at bantamweight, but Wilde’s pound-for-pound greatness is perhaps built more upon his tremendous surge from the modern minimumweight all the way to featherweight.  That said, the little genius made a significant dent at bantamweight, too, most especially in 1919, Wilde’s peak year, when two all-time greats were imported from America to test him – madness, that Wilde even made these matches was madness – and he achieved decisions over both of them.

Joe Lynch went first, in March. The New Yorker was approaching his pomp, just six months away from a newspaper decision over Pete Herman. Members of the British Royal Family sat at ringside, royalty, too, in the ring, as the rain lashed down and Wilde, the smaller man by fifteen pounds and yet the aggressor, got home to win the narrowest of decisions.

Four months later, “Memphis” Pal Moore arrived on British shores. Wilde was “as a boy” next to the Tennessean and in the middle portion of their twenty round contest, disaster nearly struck, culminating in the sixteenth when it seemed he might fold. The Welshman rallied and battled through to a decision.

It is possible to find dissenting voices concerning both decisions. Against Lynch, Wilde may have benefited from the referee’s apparent distaste for the American’s tendency to hold. It is also probable that the chances of Wilde losing with the future British King ringside were minimal. Against “Memphis”, Wilde again seems to have benefited, this time from Moore’s hitting with the open glove, for which he was warned. It is possible that these decisions would have been reversed on US soil; my read, though, is that they were those kinds of fights – close and open to interpretation.

Taken in tandem with some decent British scalps, Wilde is good for his spot.

#34 – Enrique Pinder (1966-1973)

Enrique Pinder lost to several contenders but defeated two of the very finest bantamweights ever to grace the ring.

A sound if uninspiring collection of wins in 1971 and 1972 bought him a regional and national bantamweight championship and an unlikely shot at the title, held in 1972 by the wonderful Rafael Herrera. Herrera had taken the title from none other than the immortal Ruben Olivares just four months earlier and was on a ten fight winning streak that had also included the likes of Chucho Castillo and Rodolfo Martinez. To say Pinder was rated an underdog is an understatement.

The Panamanian defied the odds and lifted the true bantamweight championship of the world in a fifteen round decision over one the finest exponents of boxing at the weight. A quick and powerful stylist, his hard punches discouraged aggression and his speed, though not prohibitive, was enough to see him take the title from the ageing champion.

Pinder would drop that title in devastating fashion in his first defense against Romeo Anaya; but before he did, he fought a non-title fight with the immortal Chucho Castillo. Castillo had also defeated Olivares, turning the trick in 1970, and although he had lost the rematch he was not yet far removed from his prime.  Pinder once again utilized a sprightly left hand and quick feet to take a ten round decision by the narrowest of margins.

The ninth round, a disastrous one for the Panamanian, was survived by guile and heart and Pinder had a pair of wins that perhaps only Olivares and Castillo and Harrera themselves could match.

Sadly, he added nothing more of note, burning with a bright savagery in the early seventies before toppling of a cliff and into fistic oblivion, leaving us to wonder quite what to make of so mercurial a fighter. #34 is where he has washed up.

#33 – Pancho Villa (1919-1925)

Pancho Villa (pictured) knocked out Jimmy Wilde at flyweight in 1923 and immediately packed up his terrifying combination of speed, power and aggression and invaded the bantamweight division. Like a poker player holding a middle pair he set out to find out exactly what the other players at this new table had with a big bet, boxing the monstrous Kid Williams. Williams was past his best but still a livid nightmare for a fighter moving up. The headline for the wire report, “Pancho Villa Easily Defeats Kid Williams” was as clear a warning bell as could be sounded for the division.

Villa, never anything but fearless, then lined up Bud Taylor and the two boxed a no-decision in September; Villa won almost every round and presented himself ring-center at the beginning of the ninth to out-punch the bigger man toe-to-toe. It was an impressive performance, but early in 1924, Taylor avenged himself. He had won the fifth round of the first fight using his left jab and hook. These were the punches that brought him vengeance.

So the two fought a rubber match in June, in a decision bout where an official victor would be named.  Villa triumphed, and in doing so had earned himself a trilogy win over a legitimately great bantamweight. Speculation mounted that he would depart the flyweight division for bantamweight permanently; a year later the fearless Filipino, not yet twenty-four years old, would be dead.

Had Villa lived we would likely be talking about a top thirty bantamweight. He was that special. As it was, the key victories over Taylor and Williams are barracked by a split pair against the excellent Abe Goldstein, and the gathering of some lesser contenders, Young Montreal and Abe Friedman among them.

#32 – Midget Wolgast (1925-1940)

Midget Wolgast had the face of a killer and the boxing style of a fallen angel. There has quite possibly never been a more fascinating fighter in all of boxing’s rich history.

He was also one of those men with an attitude that brought glory and suffering in equal portions, that rarest and most beautiful of pugilists, a man who would fight anybody. This led to his building a very, very respectable bantamweight ledger. His ludicrous, lashing, dancing style probably allowed him to get away with making matches that would have sent most flyweights spinning sideways.

Included are two men from this list, namely Pete Sanstol, who he befuddled, back-handed, and dominated in 1933, by then approaching the end of his prime, and Lou Salica.

Salica, who we haven’t met yet, was just as green as grass when Wolgast put a terrible hurting on him over eight one-sided rounds in 1934. Interestingly, the two fought a rematch three months later and Salica earned a draw, in the main due to a persuasive body attack. This paved the way for Wolgast’s only shot at a strap, his 1935 rubber match with Salica. Their fight was close, but the naturally bigger man dropped and harried Wolgast in the sixth round and took a decision over ten.

So no title for Wolgast, but he did best a slew of good bantamweights, from title challenger Archie Bell to the excellent contender Young Tommy with whom he took the heavy end of a trilogy; Speedy Dado, Ernie Maurer, Lew Farber and Bobby Leithman round out a resume as strong as anyone in this entry.

#31 – Robert Cohen (1951-1959)

Robert Cohen wore the perma-scowl of a 1950s Hollywood villain and the physique of a Greek God.  Needless to say, although he was originally from Algeria, he was popular in his adopted home of France.  The crowds got even bigger when he took his show on the road; 20,000 saw him knock European bantamweight champion John Kelly, one of the most respected contenders in the world, brutally unconscious in Belfast. That was 1954. By this time Cohen had already established himself as the foremost bantamweight contender of the decade, having twice defeated his only true rival for the hearts of French at the poundage, world number two Maurice Sandeyron. His pull in the wake of these results was such that French promoters were able to tempt one of the top American’s of that time, Henry Gault, out to Paris; he did not do better than Sandeyron.

After stopping Kelly, Cohen was ready for his shot at champion Jimmy Carruthers. Carruthers, though, retired, leaving Cohen to contest the new lineage with two other outstanding contenders, Thai hero Chamrooen Songkitrat and the wonderful Italian, Mario D’Agata.

These three were so closely matched that an overall victor seemed unlikely, but that is what boxing got in the shape of Robert Cohen. He bested D’Agata out in Tunisia over ten rounds in a desperate fight that saw Cohen drop his man in the penultimate round to squeak home with a narrow and unpopular decision; then he traveled to Thailand where he and Songkitrat put on an equally trying and close contest, that saw both men injured in a bitter contest in which Cohen took the split.

Cohen was not a great champion, posting a draw out in South Africa before losing the title to Cherif Hamia back in Paris, but he was an exceptional contender and one who built a genuinely impressive resume on his way to the title. Sadly, bantamweights who twice beat the best fighter in the world excepting themselves are extremely rare and Cohen, given the date of Carruthers’ final fight, is one of them.

It enhances his standing and brings him to the very precipice of the top thirty.

Next week we arrive at the very precipice of the top twenty.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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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.

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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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