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The Fifty Greatest Bantamweights of All Time: Part 4, 20-11

I need to talk to you about George Dixon.

I placed him at number four on my featherweight list. He made double-figures for title defenses at this poundage and he conquered many excellent featherweights

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George Dixon

I need to talk to you about George Dixon.

I placed him at number four on my featherweight list. He made double-figures for title defenses at this poundage and he conquered many excellent featherweights in what was a stacked era. The weight limit is a confusing issue around this time as the featherweight and bantamweight limits seem almost interchangeable as various champions and promoters shuffle them in order that they might best fit the required physique, but whatever the defined limit in that era, I respect it.

At bantamweight, Dixon won exactly one title fight at the then limit.

Modern historians and writers have tended to subsume fighters into the modern rendering of weight classes. In other words, although Dixon was a career featherweight, they treat many of his fights as bantamweight contests for the purposes of their ranking of him. This makes his 1893 victory over Solly Smith, for example, a bantamweight contest when it was recognized, in its own time, as a featherweight clash.

Not so for this list. Here, Dixon is given recognition in keeping with his own era’s rules. So he is ranked among the very best featherweights in history but he does not appear on this bantamweight list.

He very nearly made an appearance at number fifty, but in the end, that would have been more about justifying my appraisal than presenting as legitimate top fifty as I could possibly manage. Charley Phil Rosenberg was just more deserving.

So forgive me this quick explanation.

Here’s the first part of the top twenty:

#20 – Jimmy Carruthers (1950-1962)

One of the greatest Australian fighters, Jimmy Carruthers (pictured) never lost a fight at bantamweight and retired the champion of the world at just twenty-five years old.

It would be an exaggeration to say he appeared out of nowhere to annex the championship, but probably not by much. Carruthers was already a sensation in his native country, but the opposition certainly did not justify the hype (Elley Bennett, a good fighter, notwithstanding). Nevertheless, when he departed his shores for the South African capital in 1952 with champion Vic Toweel on his mind, he appeared every inch the seasoned professional for the seventy seconds the fight lasted. He threw a reported 110 punches before lobbing the title-belt over his shoulder and going back to Australia. It was a phenomenal achievement, certainly the most shocking victory in a bantamweight championship fight since Terry McGovern.

He returned to the scene of the crime the following year and repeated the trick, albeit in a more respectful ten rounds.

Now relatively seasoned at 16-0, Carruthers (pictured on the right vs. the aforementioned Bennett) spent the few short months that remained him as a professional fighter beating some of the best in the world. His team tempted American and number five contender Henry Gault out to Australia where Carruthers out-pointed him at an apparent canter; fellow Australian Booby Sinn, ranked eighth, was his inevitable third challenger and once again Carruthers proved too much over the distance, by now adding a cleverness in timing and positioning to his whirlwind attack.

A final fascinating wrinkle to his championship reign presented itself when Chamroen Songkitrat’s promotional team put together a package that tempted Carruthers once again to leave home shores for foreign climes.

Songkitrat, the world’s number two bantamweight contender, had run Robert Cohen desperately close on home soil and his war with Carruthers proved even more dramatic. Such was the profoundness of the downpour that opened upon the ring that footwear became a hindrance rather than a necessity and this fight remains the only championship contest to be conducted barefoot. Carruthers edged home nonetheless.

Just one small measure of the intense drama he wedged into his short career.

#19 – Jeff Chandler (1976-1984)

Like Carruthers, Jeff Chandler was so inexperienced at the highest level as to be denoted green when he took on the undefeated Julian Solis for the bantamweight championship of the world in November of 1980. Having never been fifteen rounds, his capture of that of that title by fourteenth round knockout was even more impressive. Chandler followed it up with another exceptional performance, outpointing the superb Jorge Lujan over fifteen in a torrid affair which he dominated in two distinct phases. Winning rounds inside against the roughhouse Lujan early he re-took control of the fight after a mid-rounds surge from the former champion by using pure boxing. If he could be deemed inexperienced before these contests he was seasoned by the end of them.

Defeating back to back kings, one reigning, one recently former, suggested one of the great bantamweight careers was in the offing; in reality, his best work was behind him. It should be noted though that it was not Chandler’s fault that, for example, Lupe Pintor departed the division for 122lbs. That said, a fight with Alberto Davila would have been big and probably should have been made. This aside, Chandler staged no fewer than eight successful title defenses, including in a rematch against Solis which he won in just seven rounds. Gaby Canizales, Johnny Carter, Eijiro Murata (in a fascinating trilogy, the first of which, a desperate, turgid struggle, was justifiably rendered a draw out in Japan before Chandler won by KO once on either side of the world) and Oscar Muniz are the other men who form the backbone of a really good bantamweight resume.

Chandler was eventually beaten by the kind of pressure he had thrived upon as a younger man, by Richie Sandoval who stopped him in the fifteenth round of their title fight in 1984.

#18 – Sixto Escobar (1930-1940)

Sixto Escobar has become something of a polarizing figure. Depending upon the source you might find him ranked as the single best fighter ever to hail from the fight-mad Puerto Rico, or left languishing outside the top ten. I understand but disagree with both perspectives. The first, I’d suggest, is based upon a rose-tinted view of a bygone era dependent upon oft-repeated rarely proven legends for gas; the latter is about cold hard statistics and brief glances at the sites that house them.

Certainly Escobar’s paper record, a sorrowful 39-23-4, lends itself to doubt but Escobar was far more impressive at bantamweight than above. More, his boxing career blossomed when he began to pursue it full time which was also around the time he went to the U.S.

Between 1934 when he landed on American shores, and 1939 when he made the weight for the final time, Escobar lost precisely two contests at bantamweight, both against world class operators, both avenged. The first of these came against the deadly Lou Salica, who defeated him by the narrowest margin imaginable when the referee (who had scored the fight a draw) declared Salica the winner based upon his supposed superior physical condition at the bell. Escobar hit the canvas in the rematch three months later but clambered up to avenge himself by clear decision, a result he repeated when they met in a rubber match two years later.

The other man to pull the trick at 118lbs was Harry Jeffra. A fighter with a silken jab and quick feet, Jeffra dominated Escobar in a five fight series that stretched from 1936 to 1940, but most of his successes came up at featherweight – in the bantamweight division, Escobar went 1-1 with his nemesis.

The best bantamweight in the world from 1936 until 1939 (that rude interruption by Jeffra aside), Escobar married a quick, inquisitive left to a thumping right, married speed to strength. He rates 5-1 in legitimate title fights and gave up the championship to the scale rather than relinquish it in the ring. That said, he lost a number of non-title fights just above the bantamweight limit; this combined with a hideous paper record exercises some drag on his all-time standing.

#17 – Terry McGovern (1897-1908)

Terry McGovern made weight then sat still, vanished in the day’s newspapers, waiting for the moment when the invisible chain would be removed and the most devastating motion of his era, perhaps any era, would be unbound.   A runaway moon of a fighter, he bore himself bodily into even the best opposition unwinding the days and weeks spent in careful preparation for the most hideous assault the ring has ever seen.

One of the greatest fighters ever to have walked the earth, bantamweight was where McGovern immolated his first champion, Pedlar Palmer, “Box o Tricks”, a fighter so excellent that the newspapermen of the time wore their bemusement at McGovern being installed as a favorite over him for their September 1899 title fight in confounded ink. McGovern dismembered him. This terrifying knockout over a world class fighter is where McGovern’s legacy at the poundage rests and he departed the division shortly thereafter.

That, then, explains McGovern’s lowly ranking. One of the greatest ever pound-for-pound, he spread himself too thin and across too many weights to make a top-ten mark at any one of them and bantamweight was where he shook out the last of his learning (he needed three attempts to best the excellent Tim Callahan for example).

His eventually mastery of Callahan and his destruction of Palmer aside, his standout victory was probably over future bantamweight champion Harry Forbes.

Forbes was viewed as “well-nigh invincible” by the time of his 1898 meeting with McGovern. A favorite at the bell, he was undone by as vicious a body attack as can be imagined before McGovern disassociated him from his “air of invincibility” with a right-cross in the fifteenth.

Brutal and brilliant at the poundage, bigger money called him to bigger divisions. What he might have achieved had he remained a bantamweight is a thought in and of itself.

#16 – Lou Salica (1932-1944)

Every time I do one of these lists I come across a fighter who delights and surprises in the depth of his achievement, a fighter who, though known to me at the beginning of the process, was not properly understood by me and whose standing ends in great excess of what I expected it to be.

Lou Salica is that bantamweight and I make no apologies for what is therefore a lengthy entry.

One of fourteen children born in America to Italian immigrants, Salica never received schooling past the age of twelve; for him, it was to be fighting or poverty. A golden gloves victory at 112lbs confirmed that it would be fighting.

I’d suggest that his 1934 victory over the iron-chinned Korean contender Joe Tei Ken was where it all began, but, while he was already scrappy (Salica dropped Ken in the eighth) nobody could have predicted the criminality that Salica was about to perpetrate against the massed ranks of the bantamweight division.  The highly ranked “Young” Tommy went next, again out-pointed over ten, this time in something of a surprise, before Speedy Dado put an (unavenged) speed bump in the road. This was understandable; when he out-pointed Indian Quintana in December he had matched his fourth name bantamweight in as many months. Just 23-2-2 he was ushered, probably prematurely, into an alphabet strap contest with the legendary Midget Wolgast.

Wolgast, one of the very greatest flyweights in history, had already defeated a green Salica but that had been the year before. In 1935 the real Salica emerged.  He found Wolgast in the sixth, hammered him, dropped him, and took the fight by a shade. He was now ranked the #2 bantamweight contender in the world and would spend an astonishing decade among the top four.

Salica was only champion as seen by California; Baltasar Sangchili was the real champion. When strapholders milk their belt for cash at low risk, it reveals the paper champion for what he is and the “title” he holds for what it is. But Salica, instead, fought the best in the world. Pablo Dano, then among the three best fighters in the world went first; Salica, as was by then almost his habit, outboxed him over ten, separating himself from his game challenger by dropping him in the ninth. Finding a tougher challenge would be hard, but Salica managed it – he outpointed Sixto Escobar in a fight so desperately narrow a pinhead could barely pass between.

Escobar won a pair of rematches, and then Salica won the legitimate championship of the world. Already sporting an entire career under his belt it is arguably the case that he only now got started in earnest. Contenders continued to fall away from him, and then he ran up against a youthful Manuel Ortiz, who appears in the top five of this list.  Salica shaded him.

After picking up the vacant lineal championship in a unification fight with Georgie Pace, Salica fought a trilogy with the top contender, Tommy Forte, going 2-1, at which point he began to slip. Successful defenses of his titles followed but the fully fledged Manuel Ortiz was far too much for him and defeated him rather easily in 1942. In the rematch in 1943, Salica suffered the only stoppage loss of his career.

By the end of that career he was known less for scrappy persistence and more for generalship, smarts and good feet.  More than the sum of his parts, he was perhaps never a legitimately great bantamweight but he was as special as could be without his being named as such.

Either way, there is no better win resume outside the top ten.

#15 – Chucho Castillo (1962-1975)

Full disclosure: Chucho Castillo is my favorite bantamweight.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t good for his spot. This blank-faced box-punching genius mixed with a level of competition equal of any who appear on this list.

He served a desperate apprenticeship among the massed banditry of the exceptional and crowded bantamweight ranks in 1960s Mexico, breaking out in 1967 and winning the Mexican bantamweight title. This was no normal national level belt and was held at that time by none other than Jose Medel. Castillo, had now broken onto the world scene, but and continued to duke it out with the best on the Mexican scene even as his assault upon the world championship began.

“He would fight a bull with a fork,” as one promoter put it, and truly, Castillo left no stone unturned in his mission to become the world’s best.

Before he could reach the champion he needed to best the division’s boogeyman, Jesus Pimentel.  This, he did, upsetting the odds and wowing a big crowd at the The Forum in Los Angeles on his American debut, handing Pimentel a one-sided “pummeling” said the LA Sun. The great Lionel Rose held the title and, once more at the Forum where he had succeeded in making himself something of a fan favorite, Castillo got his shot.

Ringside reporters were, according to The Press-Courier, split evenly as to the winner; the judges, too, were split, but the heavy end of the decision went to Rose. The LA crowd rioted and two-hundred police officers were dispatched to place them under control. Castillo continued to riot, too.  Just four months after his failed title shot he knocked out the all-time great Rafael Herrera, as though he were nothing, in just three rounds. Another title shot, then, was inevitable. To take the championship, all Castillo had to do was defeat perhaps the single best bantamweight ever to have boxed.

Ruben Olivares was riding a thirty fight knockout streak but found himself on the ground looking up after just three rounds against Castillo. Olivares was very far from being a fighter reliant upon his power, however, and he ground down Castillo for the decision.

In the rematch, he dropped Olivares again his right hand, by now perfected, the best in the division’s history for me, and it makes him a technician of the highest order as well as the tank he is reputed to be. Olivares was stopped on a cut, a single point behind on a single card, in the fourteenth round.  Castillo was the champion.

Not a great champion, he was one of the greatest contenders in the division’s history.

#14 – Johnny Coulon (1905-1920)

Johnny Coulon emerged out of the old paperweight division to lift the bantamweight title against Frankie Conley in 1911. Issues with counter-claims were terminated in 1912 when he beat Harry Forbes for a second time and the lethal perpetual contender Frankie Burns. Burns was an old foe from his paperweight days and their first title fight was an epic affair of nip-and-tuck decided in a frantic final round. Their rematch was even closer, a draw, at which point Burns gave up on Coulon leaving him to stand astride the division like a colossus.

Coulon’s emergence directly after the collapses of the paperweight title and directly before the emergence of the golden generation of 1920s bantamweights may have rendered him something of a curiosity for the more modern boxing fan but to the old-timers he was catnip. He is one of the few fighters that Charley Rose, Nat Fleischer and Herb Goldman all believe belong in the top ten at bantamweight.

For me, there is an argument. Coulon’s title reign runs through thirteen defenses before he lost it to the all-time great Kid Williams in 1912. That is a huge number. The flip side of this coin is that Coulon boxed a lot of no contests, that is, fights where he had to lose by knockout to be separated from the championship as no official decision was being rendered, and he lost two of them according to ringsiders.

Now, that isn’t as disastrous for his legacy as it sounds. In those situations, everyone involved knows what is at risk and how the fight is working. Nobody is being “cheated”. Coulon also staged “real” defenses where decisions could be rendered, but in the no contests he knew, as champion, that getting to the final bell was his only real job. So did his opponents.

For this reason, his “losing” a six-round no decision to a middling fighter was of no real consequence in his own era, and when he “lost” a ten round fight to Kid Williams he rewarded him with a legitimate title shot. Williams stopped him in three, ending his title reign.

Perhaps a sliver ahead of his time in the way he used his jab to set opponents up for bodywork, Coulon comes across as a smart, durable, quick-handed fighter who might have reigned in any era.

#13 – Joe Lynch (1915-1926)

Joe Lynch is our first introduction to a true monster of a true golden age of the bantamweights, a series of champions and contenders that made for the best division in all of boxing in and around the 1920s.

Despite the consistently high level of competition, Lynch was champion of the world not once, but twice, first taking the title from the immortal Pete Herman during Christmas of 1920 and then from the capable but less deadly Johnny Buff in the summer off 1922. His 1920 pass at the world championship may have been his best performance. Herman had suffered a ragged year and was likely past his absolute peak but he still had some exceptional nights before him.  Tall, rangy, slender, Lynch was blessed with perhaps the best one-two in an era stuffed with technicians. An underdog, he landed enough of these punches to win as many as ten of the fifteen rounds.

Lynch, who struggled at the weight, nevertheless spent around a decade at bantamweight and used similar tactics to build one of the single best win resumes in the history of the division. He defeated Frankie Burns, Memphis Pal Moore, Abe Goldstein, Charles LeDoux, Young Montreal, Joe Burman, Jack Wolfe and many more noted men of an era as stacked as any that has ever existed at any weight.

Taken in tandem with two stints as world champion it has resulted in his being ranked at #4 at the weight by Nat Fleischer, and #11 by the IBRO; here, he appears further down.

Why?

In short, it is because while he defeated numerous excellent bantamweights, he only rarely won a series with one.  The great bantamweights of the 1910s and 20s fought each other over and over again, and an impressive 1-0-1 tally against Kid Williams aside, Lynch did not impress. He lost three of five to Pete Herman (including a rematch to that wonderful title-winning effort), went 3-4-2 with Memphis Pal Moore (whom he tends to rank in front of on “classic” bantamweight lists), dropped two of a trilogy to Frankie Burns and split a pair with Abe Goldstein. Luck went for and against him across these wonderful series – but he was never the proven man.

He was able to beat some lesser fighters in extended series, but here is a fact where Lynch is concerned: great fighters usually got the better of him in protracted series.

A great bantamweight – a bantamweight capable of beating literally any 118lb fighter who ever has lived – but just a little bit shy of the ten.

#12 – Bud Taylor (1920-1931)

Bud Taylor was never the lineal champion at bantamweight, but he did prove himself the inherent superior of two of the major kings of that period in Charley Goldstein and Charley Phil Rosenberg.

Taylor crushed an admittedly pre-prime Rosenberg in 1923, two years before he came to the title, but his superiority over Abe Goldstein was much more marked.  Taylor defeated him three times between 1925 and 1927, each time by points, and on the first two occasions having a decided advantage. Taylor was better than Goldstein and better than Rosenberg.

So no lineal title, but there was a strap, the vacant NBA strap, and to obtain it, Taylor had to overcome no lesser a personage than Tony Canzoneri.  Canzoneri, one of the very best ever to box, did not achieve excellence at bantamweight in the same way he did further up the scale and Taylor was the reason. The two met for the vacant NBA title in March of 1927; Taylor dominated – Canzoneri did what Canzoneri almost always did and pulled off a spectacular rally in the tenth and final round to rescue a draw. Between that contest and their June rematch, Taylor found time to make four separate engagements, keeping up his breakneck schedule, remarkable even for the time, despite title honors looming. Goldstein and the ranked Young Nationalista were included among his victims.

He appeared the fresher man in the rematch, however. Taylor had won spells of their first fight with pressure and in the second he was relentless; this was Taylor distilled. An aggressive juggernaut who surrounded foes with leather and bad intentions.

He was also beloved of old time historians who, again, consistently ranked him higher than I have here. Nat Fleischer had him #5 all time; Charley Rose #9.  I understand why. He would fight anyone and he beat most of them – but not all of them. In four pokes at Memphis Pal Moore he could not get the better of him once; more disturbingly he dropped a series with the undersized (though brilliant) Pancho Villa.

#11 – Rafael Herrera (1963-1986)

In 1969, Chucho Castillo stopped Rafel Herrera in three; in 1971 Herrera secured the rematch and avenged it but in the narrowest of narrow decisions. As fine a fight as was ever contested at bantamweight was what these two engaged in at the Forum and when they went to war in the twelfth, for a second time after the desperate and vicious fourth, it was for all the marbles. Herrera got home by a split decision.

Castillo and Herrera were contemporaries and for me they have always come as a pair. Technically wonderful, craftsmen both, as tough as Mexican bantamweights should be, as drilled and both, briefly, were champions. They met twice, and it was Castillo who got the better of that pair, winning by knockout where Herrera squeaked home in an arguable decision, but they are separated by more pressing matters than their own rivalry.

In 1972 Herrera met Ruben Olivares for the world title. Olivares had been beaten in 1970 by Castillo but since then had reclaimed his title in a rematch and blasted out several excellent fighters, including the murderous Jesus Pimentel. Herrera harried and harassed him, pressuring him with jabs and a disciplined guard, countering to the body, he systematically deconstructed him. In the course of the eighth he put two right hands through the champion then, later, caught him with an almost incidental looking hook; Olivares went down face first and rose at eleven.  Herrera then apologized to the legend he had mortalized.

Herrera lost the championship in his very first defense, against Enrique Pinder  but he picked up another piece of the title and rounded off an absolutely beautiful resume in style. In addition to Olivares and Castillo he defeated Romeo Anaya, the wonderful ex-flyweight Venice Borkhorsor, Rodolfo Martinez, all of whom were among the very best bantamweights in the world when he took them. Add supplementary wins over the likes of Octavio Gomez and he crafted a resume nearly almost good enough see him named among the ten greatest bantamweights in history.

Almost, but not quite.

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Argentina

The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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Canada & Usa

In Boxing, the Last Weekend of July was Chock Full of Surprises

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

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The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated Nick Webb (12-0, 10 KOs) in the fourth round. Allen said that he intended this to be his final fight, but will now hang around awhile.

In hindsight, this was an omen. Before the show was over, upsets – albeit mild upsets – were registered in both featured bouts. Dereck Chisora, trailing on the scorecards, stopped Carlos Takam in the eighth. Dillian Whyte outpointed Joseph Parker. And later that same day, in Kissimmee, Florida, Japanese import Masayuki Ito made a big splash in his U.S. debut, beating up highly touted Christopher Diaz.

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Joseph Parker is quite the gentleman. Following his loss to Dillian Whyte, Parker was gracious in defeat: “I say congratulations to Dillian. I gave it my best. The better man won.”

In case you missed it, Whyte survived a hoary moment in the final round to win a unanimous decision. Most everyone agreed that the decision was fair but there were a few dissenters. Well known U.K. boxing pundit Steve Bunce said, “I thought Parker deserved a draw.” Bunce noted that the scribes sitting near him were in complete accord that the most lopsided score (115-110) was far too wide.

We’ve seen fighters grouse that they were robbed after fights that were far less competitive. Parker’s post-fight amiability was all the more puzzling considering that he had a legitimate beef that referee Ian John Lewis was too lax, enabling Whyte to turn the contest into a street fight.

Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry was all on board with the selection of Lewis. “He’s a very highly qualified guy who I think is the best British referee,” he said. But Barry changed his tune after the fight, saying that there were at least two occasions when Lewis should have deducted a point from Whyte.

Veteran Australian boxing writer Anthony Cocks said that going forward, Parker, a soft spoken, mild mannered man, needs to have more of a mongrel in him. Cocks noted that when Whyte transgressed, Parker’s response was to look at the ref with a bemused expression. The first time that Whyte bent the rules, opined Cocks, Parker should have hit him in the balls.

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Top Rank hasn’t had much luck with their Puerto Rican fighters lately. First there was Felix Verdejo. Hyped as the next Felix Trinidad, the 2012 Olympian was 22-0 when his career was interrupted by a motorcycle accident. He won his first fight back in Puerto Rico, but was then exposed by Tijuana’s unheralded Antonio Lozada Jr. who stopped him in the 10th round at the Theater of Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day, 2018.

More recently, Top Rank gave a big build-up to Christopher Diaz, but Diaz, the 2016 ESPN Deportes Prospect of The Year, also hit the skids after starting his pro career 23-0. Diaz was upset on Saturday by Masayuki Ito in a match sanctioned for the vacant WBO 130-pound title.

Unlike Verdejo, Diaz was still standing at the final bell, but he was taken to the cleaners by his Japanese opponent who won comfortably on the scorecards.

– – – –

Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin made his pro debut on the Diaz-Ito undercard. Nikitin won every round of a 6-round contest.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, this is the guy who defeated top seed Michael Conlan in a quarterfinal bantamweight match at the Rio Olympics. The decision, which Conlan greeted with a middle finger salute to the judges, was widely seen as a heist.

In signing new prospects, Top Rank honcho Bob Arum likes to gather up fighters who compete in the same weight class as fighters that he already controls. This sets up a scenario where he can double dip, extracting a commission from the purse of both principals.

The cluster is most pronounced in the lower weight classes. These fighters, listed alphabetically, are currently promoted or co-promoted by Top Rank: junior bantamweight Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-1), junior featherweight Michael Conlan (8-0), featherweight Christopher Diaz (23-1), super bantamweight Isaac Dogboe (19-0), super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno (25-1), super bantamweight Jean Rivera (14-0), featherweight Genesis Servania (31-1), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (7-0), bantamweight Antonio Vargas (7-0), featherweight Nicholas Walters (26-1-1).

The aforementioned Nikitin launched his pro career as a featherweight.

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In July of 2004, Danny Williams knocked out Mike Tyson in the fourth round at Louisville. Iron Mike had one more fight and then wisely called it quits. Williams had 48 more fights, the most recent coming last weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Williams was stopped in the 10th round by a local man, 35-year-old Lee McAllister, whose last documented fight had come in 2013. In that bout, McAllister, carrying 140 pounds, outpointed a Slovakian slug in a 6-round fight. During his hiatus from boxing, McAllister (that’s him in the red and white trunks), served a 9-month prison sentence for assaulting a patron while working in an Aberdeen kebab shop.

Danny Williams’ weight wasn’t announced, but in his three fights prior to fighting McAllister he came in a tad north of 270 pounds. He reportedly out-weighed McAllister by 4 stone (56 pounds), likely a loose approximation.

Williams is a product of Brixton, the hardscrabble Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in South London that also spawned Dillian Whyte. But he has no intention of going back there. After the McAllister fight, in which he was knocked down three times, he said he was retiring to Nigeria where he had a job waiting for him as a bodyguard.

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The ink was barely dry on the weekend’s events when news arrived that Tyson Fury was close to signing for a December bout with WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. On social media, Fury said the deal was almost done and Fury’s promoter Frank Warren confirmed it while saying that it was conditional on Fury looking good when he opposes Francesco Pianeta on Aug. 18 at the Windsor Park soccer stadium in Belfast. Fury vs. Pianeta underpins Carl Frampton’s WBO featherweight title defense against Luke Jackson.

As to whether he would be ready to defeat Wilder after only two comeback fights, Fury, who turns 30 this month, said he was ready to beat Wilder on the day he was born.

Deontay Wilder is disappointed that his dream match with Anthony Joshua won’t happen until next spring at the earliest, but there are plenty of options out there for him and more of them for him to ponder after this past weekend’s events.

Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz looked good against Razvan Cojanu, dismissing his hapless Romanian adversary in the second round on the Garcia-Easter card in Los Angeles.

After the bout, WBC prexy Mauricio Suliaman gave Wilder his blessing to skirt his mandatory against Dominic Breazeale for a rematch with Ortiz.

Presumably that also applies if Wilder accepts promoter Eddie Hearn’s offer for a match with Dillian Whyte. The WBC now lists Whyte as their “silver” champion and has bumped him ahead of Breazeale into the #1 slot in their rankings. And then there’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller who has an Eddie Hearn connection and is a more interesting opponent than Breazeale.

If Wilder vs. Fury is a go, say Fury and Warren, it will be held in December in New York or Las Vegas. We make New York the favorite. The only good date in Las Vegas in December for an event of this magnitude is Dec. 1 and that’s only because Thanksgiving arrives early this year. The National Finals Rodeo, a 10-day event which fills up the town, arrives on Dec. 6, eliminating the next two weekends. And when the rodeo leaves, Christmas is right around the corner. Historically, boxing promoters shy away from putting on a big show right before Christmas on the theory that fight fans have the “shorts,” having exhausted their discretionary income on Christmas gifts.

There are some interesting fighters competing in the upper tier of the heavyweight division and a slew of intriguing prospects coming up the ladder. The division hasn’t been this exciting since the Golden Age of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, et al. Enjoy.

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Les Moonves, Hero of Mayweather-Pacquiao Deal, Now Cast as a Villain

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing

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Moonves

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has taken on a more sordid connotation in light of the avalanche of accusations of sexual impropriety that have thrust the 68-year-old Moonves into the unwelcome company of such accused high-visibility miscreants as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer.

But while the other aforementioned power players have been fired or indicted, their reputations in tatters, Moonves remains on the job as one of the most influential and highest paid (a reported $70 million in 2017) media executives in the United States. Despite a damning article authored by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker that details numerous instances of bad behavior ranging from merely dubious to criminally actionable, and to which Moonves himself has admitted to some extent, CBS on Monday issued a statement of support that seemed to catch the editors of Variety somewhat off-guard. The entertainment publication’s opening paragraph reads thusly: “In a surprise move, CBS’ board of directors is keeping Leslie Moonves as chairman-CEO even as it launches a probe of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by six women in a New Yorker expose.”

Why should still another story of alleged sexual misconduct by an older man seeking to exert improper control over younger women be of any significance to a fight audience? Well, normally it wouldn’t, except for Moonves’ position, which includes a say in the direction of Showtime’s increasingly important boxing operation if he so chooses. When negotiations for Mayweather-Pacquiao, a pay-per-view event which was to be co-produced by Showtime and HBO, hit a snag, Moonves insinuated himself into the discussion because it made financial and logistic sense for him to do so. CBS/Showtime had entered into a six-bout, $250 million deal with Mayweather, and three of the four fights held to that point had underperformed. Subsequently, the prevailing belief in CBS/Showtime’s executive offices was that Mayweather’s long-delayed showdown with Pacquiao was not only advisable, but absolutely necessary to stanch the flow of red ink.

“Without Les Moonves, this fight wouldn’t have had a prayer of happening,” Top Rank chairman and CEO Bob Arum, a longtime friend of Moonves, said after the last “i” had been dotted and the last “t” crossed. “The real hero in getting this done is Les Moonves.”

And this from Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, tossing another verbal bouquet to his boss: “One of the main reasons this deal got done, when maybe other ones didn’t, was having Les Moonves as part of the process. He was deeply committed to making this deal. He is someone that all parties in this negotiation respected. He was really the catalyst for seeing this through. He refused to take `no’ for an answer from any side. He was there making sure that the parties came together in a successful and cooperative manner.”

But while the high-level wheeling and dealing to finalize Mayweather-Pacquiao was done behind closed doors, so too were those instances when Moonves was attempting to arrange a private deal with a female subordinate whose career he could either advance or stymie. One such occasion allegedly involved writer-actress Ileana Douglas, who was summoned to Moonves’ office to discuss matters involving a television project in which she was to have starred. The New Yorker story quotes Douglas’ heightening discomfort as Moonves made coarse and physical advances toward her.

“At that point, you’re a trapped animal,” Douglas said of the incident. “Your life is flashing before your eyes. It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”

After The New Yorker story came out, Moonves apologized, sort of, to the six women who told Farrow that the CBS bigwig had sexually harassed them. All claimed he became cold and hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.

In a statement, Moonves said, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected – and abided by the principle – that `no’ means `no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career … We at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

What makes the furor that has suddenly swirled up around Moonves all the more curious is his prominent support for the #MeToo movement and other feminist causes. In December, he helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. A month prior to that, at a conference in November, he said, “I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for (sexual harassment). And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”

There’s a lot we didn’t know? Oh, for sure. We didn’t know for a very long time that TV’s favorite father figure, now-81-year-old Bill Cosby, would be classified as a sexually violent predator by a Pennsylvania court. Cosby is due to be sentenced Sept. 24 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and his alma mater, Temple University, rescinded the honorary Ph.D. it conferred upon him in 1991. The Cos resigned his spot on Temple’s  Board of Trustees in 2014, after 32 years, amid accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades.

We also didn’t know that Harvey Weinstein, 66, the co-founder of Miramax, would be dismissed from the company and be expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the New York Times ran a story on Oct, 5, 2017, detailing decades of allegations against him by over 80 women. It would seem that the most important piece of furniture in Weinstein’s office was not his desk, but the proverbial casting couch.

One of the more intriguing developments in the widening scandal involved TV newsmen Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer. In September 2017, O’Reilly, fired by Fox News for a series of alleged sexual improprieties, appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today show, where he told host Matt Lauer that his dismissal was “a hit job – a political and financial hit job.” Two months later, Lauer was canned by NBCUniversal after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another much more junior NBC employee. Three additional women subsequently made complaints against Lauer.

Boxing is a physical sport, maybe the most physical there is, and in most cases the transgressions committed were by fighters who resorted to brute force, the fastest way to bring cops and attorneys into the equation. Think Tony Ayala Jr. spending 17 years behind bars for rape, a conviction that came on the heels of a previous incident in which he broke a teenage girl’s jaw after he made unwanted advances toward her in the restroom of a drive-in theater. But it might be argued that those who seek to have their way with women by exercising a different kind of power are just as much or even more reprehensible, an affront not only to the females they view as disposable objects but to any man who would not want to see his mother, wife or daughter treated so shabbily.

According to CBS, there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. He deserves, as everyone does under the American system of jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence. But given the current landscape befouled by others who apparently felt that they could do whatever they wanted because they always had gotten away with it, sticking with the status quo might send the wrong message.

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