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Ten Intriguing Heavyweight Prospects

Right now, the United Kingdom’s heavyweight division is alive with exciting possibilities, but the following list is not a British list. Heavyweight is where

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Is there anything in boxing more exciting than the next Mike Tyson?

Right now, the United Kingdom’s heavyweight division is alive with exciting possibilities, but the following list is not a British list. Heavyweight is where the blurring of the lines laid down by nationalism become the most unsure. Jack Johnson was beloved by the French. Floyd Patterson was admired by the Swedish. The British were quite happy to adopt Lennox Lewis despite his Canadian accent and Jamaican heritage. The Americans frowned upon Jack Dempsey’s apparent draft-dodge and cheered Georges Carpentier to the ring.

I would argue that we haven’t yet had “the next Joe Louis” and that we’ve seen nothing near “the new Muhammad Ali” so the possibility that one of them is lurking on the list below is a heady one. Certainly it’s one that crosses the line laid down by jingoism and patriotism.

It’s not exhaustive – it’s not even a top ten, not really – but these are the ten most intriguing heavyweight prospects in the opinion of this reporter.

THE COLOSSUS: ARSLANBEK MAKHMUDOV

FROM: Russia HEIGHT: 6’5.5 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 250lbs AGE: 29 RECORD: 3-0 with 3 KOs

It sounds ridiculous given that he has only fought three contests, but Arslanbek Makhmudov isn’t being moved fast enough. Less than a year from his thirtieth birthday, this Russian giant is likely to test the adage that thirty is the new heavyweight twenty.

Nevertheless, the eight punch combination Makhmudov dropped on the legendary amateur Mihai “The Rock” Nistor in April 2014 stuck with me, and made so deep an impression that I covered his turning professional for The Sweet Science and sat back to await the carnage.

I was rewarded, in a sense, but what has been learned?

To be fair, Makhmudov is being extended further with each fight. Jaime Barajas managed twenty-four seconds in December 2017; Christian Larrondo forty-six seconds this April; and Elder Hernandez pushed him just past the minute mark in May.

The colossal Makhmudov has a genuinely dangerous winging right hand and right uppercut, prodigious strength, is physically robust but reasonably disorganized, and we knew all of that before he turned pro.  If he’s too old to improve, the division should breathe a collective sigh of relief. If he can put it together, things are going to get interesting.

SIX NINE: IVAN DYCHKO

FROM: Kazakhstan HEIGHT: 6’9 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 250lbs AGE: 27 RECORD: 5-0 with 5 KOs

Two-time Olympic bronze medal winner Ivan Dychko towers, at around six feet nine inches, over even this group of giants and he has a skyscraping ambition to match: a second tilt at the world’s number one heavyweight, Anthony Joshua.

Dychko met the world’s #1 heavyweight in the London 2012 Olympic Games and dropped the narrowest of decisions, one that Dychko thought was unjust. This, in part, prompted him to turn professional around the time of the Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko contest. That symbolism should be lost on nobody.

The Kazak turned pro with Australian management which sent him boxing in venues across the USA, a wonderful illustration of globalization in boxing. The big change required, though, is in transforming himself into a winner. He has undeniable talent and significant physical advantages but consistently failed to get across the winning hurdle as an amateur; a collection of silver and bronze marks him out but as a professional he needs to burnish those near victories into gold.

For a sense of whether or not this might be possible, track down his frightening knockout of Rodriguez Cade online and note that Dychko, at 5-0, has publicly complained about the quality of his opposition.  He is ready for something better.

THE QUIET ONE: DANIEL DUBOIS

FROM: Great Britain HEIGHT: 6’5 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 239lbs AGE: 20 RECORD: 7-0 with 3 KOs

Silent at press conferences and reticent in interviews, Daniel Dubois (pictured on the right alongside Filip Hrgovic) is a quiet, respectful young man making his way in a sport that rewards noise and bombast. It speaks of the devastation he has wrought with his fists that already that countenance, that sheer non-responsiveness, is slipping into something like mythology.

“You’re captivated,” wrote Boxing News earlier this month. “You’re captivated by the brooding silence and the simplicity of his movements.”

Only the most devastating heavyweights have that mythical aura surrounding not only what they do but what they don’t; Jim Jeffries, Joe Louis and George Foreman, too, were in some strange way admired for their silence and stillness.

Dubois has many miles of bad road to travel before he can be compared to the likes of those men, however. That said, aged just twenty, he is already boxing in contests scheduled for ten rounds, although nobody has been able to extend him to nine minutes. His most recent victim, undefeated fellow Englishman David Jones, set the record after capitulating in three this February. His next opponent is by far his most interesting though: former Filip Hrgovic opponent Tom Little. Little managed four rounds with Hrgovic and it will be interesting to see how Dubois compares.

Pretty well is my guess. He has legitimately heavy hands, is beautifully balanced for his age and experience and has good pressuring footwork.

I’m not entirely sold on him though for this reason: Dubois does not have elite handspeed, and his left, in particular, sometimes looks like it is traveling through syrup.

If and how he overcomes this disadvantage will probably determine the detail of his future.

THE BRUTE: SERGEY KUZMIN

FROM: Russia HEIGHT: 6’3.5 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 245lbs AGE: 30 RECORD: 12-0 with 9 KOs

Sergey Kuzmin is a pressure fighter with a stylistically stated preference for power-punches. He throws with bad intentions, sometimes wildly, while tucking his head into his chest and giving the impression that he would rather be smaller than bigger.

Kuzmin did not particularly impress me early in his professional career, nor, if I’m honest, his amateur career, although he did have some success. I had my eyes opened a little by his performance against the tough and experienced journeyman Malcolm Tann last June. Tann showed heart and Kuzmin showed patience in his destructive violence, seeing the American off in four with a brutal straight-right.

He had generated the requisite amount of heat for his tenth opponent, a good one in Amir Mansour.  Alas, an accidental clash of heads in the third resulted in a meaningless technical draw, later downgraded still further to a no-contest when Mansour tested positive for drugs. A knockout win over American Jeremiah Karpency in April got him back on track but at 12-0 and 30 years old, Kuzmin needs to be moved on now.

His major barrier to defeating world-class opposition is likely his reach, which is not that of a modern heavyweight. Skill, guile and an upgrade from good defensive discipline to genuinely dynamic slipping and sliding will be required.

THE AMERICAN: DARMANI ROCK

FROM: USA HEIGHT: 6’5 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 240lbs AGE: 22 RECORD: 11-0 with 7 KOs

Big, young, strong, a storied amateur armed with a cool sounding name and an 11-0 record, the silence surrounding Darmani Rock is as curious as the one emanating from Daniel Dubois. Perhaps the arrival of Deontay Wilder has satisfied America’s once endless demand for top heavyweights.

Whether he is eventually to be named “Rocky” or “The Rock” only time will tell, but certainly the Philadelphian – Sweet Science aficionados will know what that address can mean – has made the right kind of start on his road to riches. Quick, with an ability to improvise evident from his very first night in a professional ring, Rocky hits with decent power, boxes with good sense and not inconsiderable skill  – but has no Wikipedia page in English nor the rabid online following expected of a heavyweight prospect from the States.

Delightful off-center positioning might help make a mockery of the lack of interest – or his continual and familiar problems with excessive weight gain may sabotage it. Time will tell.

MY FAVORITE: FILIP HRGOVIC

FROM: Croatia HEIGHT: 6’6 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 230lbs AGE: 26 RECORD: 5-0 with 4 KOs

Everything about Filip Hrgovic appeals to me. He is the right height, the right weight, the right age, carries little fat and a little raw bone which suggests more pounds may be safely added. He has a good amateur pedigree without seeming married to the code. He moves well but with the proper economy.  He can hit, but not so hard that there is any kind of danger of his falling in love with his power. He is quick but not so fast as to be able to do away with any of the hard won technical learning that is both behind and before him.

There is a lot to like.

And yet, he is getting hit a little too often against limited opposition. Hrgovic has been moved along at the fast end of sensible; his first opponent, Raphael Zambano, was Anthony Joshua’s eleventh, for example, but he’s shipped punches throughout his introduction in the paid ranks. A very good rather than a great amateur, professional boxing suits him and he’s brought only the good from his time “wearing the vest”, including a delicious one-two right out of the pages of How To Box by Joe Louis.

The defense, though, is becoming a minor concern. It is possible that Hrgovic is simply trying to close the show against over-matched opponents and a rather more conservative fighter is lurking within him ready to out-box more powerful, accurate opposition and I’m undecided on whether or not to hope for such a thing. On the one hand, Hrgovic could be legitimately brilliant if he tightens up but on the other, the thought of him in a series of blood and thunder heavyweight shootouts makes me want to weep with joy.

It may not matter for some time yet. Hrgovic was brilliant in his most recent contest, dispatching the unbeaten Mexican Filiberto Tovar in four rounds in Germany earlier this month. His body punching, especially, was irresistible and much improved. Hrgovic may not run into a fighter who can hit him consistently with meaningful punches until he reaches world level.

By then, he might be unstoppable. Heavyweight boxing, the ultimate sporting truth machine, will, in time, tell.

HAYMAKING: JOE JOYCE

FROM: Great Britain HEIGHT: 6’6 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 255lbs AGE: 32 RECORD: 4-0 with 4 KOs

From the supposed pick of the crop in Hrgovic to the man who beat him.

The amateur/professional cross-over WSB is a nursery for the paid ranks and Joyce’s defeat of Hrgovic cannot be overlooked. The two were ranked #1 and #2 for that organization at that time and Joyce, using a clinical jab married to old fashioned hustle, a high workrate and direct, unafraid fighting, took a deserved decision from his vaunted foe.

What stands against Joyce is his age. He is thirty-two years old and a huge part of his gameplan relates to his superb engine. Joyce is already in the elite bracket for workrate for a heavyweight and for one of his dimensions his potential for punching pressure approaches the uncanny. It is a fact, however, that this engine is likely to begin cramping as he approaches his mid-thirties. For this reason, promoter David “The Hayemaker” Haye is moving him along quickly. Joyce, who is a little shy of speaking publicly and Haye, who is not, have been pursuing a match with veteran Dereck Chisora no less. This potential contest fell through but it speaks of Joyce’s confidence that he felt ready for such a meeting at just 4-0.

Joyce knows he doesn’t have time to waste and although his coming match with Ivaca Bacurin (29-13-1) is actually a step down from his impressive defeat of Commonwealth Champion Lenroy Thomas, it will be his third fight this year.

Joyce in many ways is the most interesting fighter on this list because he probably will not be in competition with the other men listed but rather with the current generation of heavies. I suspect Joyce will find his way into the ring with an international class opponent before he hits 10-0 and a world level fighter before he hits 15-0. This is likely a space worth watching.

THE PUB BOUNCER: NATHAN GORMAN

FROM: Great Britain HEIGHT: 6’3 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 250lbs AGE: 21 RECORD: 13-0 with 11 KOs

Nathan Gorman isn’t really a pub bouncer but because he looks a little like one he’s been consistently overlooked as a heavyweight prospect in the UK in favor of the ripped Joe Joyce and the less tubby Daniel Dubois. This is unfair. Gorman has plenty to offer heavyweight boxing.

What he doesn’t have is reach. Like Sergey Kuzmin, Gorman is big on pounds but short on inches and so each man is learning to trick, buy and hustle his way to the inside and do his work. Gorman looked to have taken a big step forwards on this front on the undercard of last week’s Tyson Fury comeback in beating Sean Turner by stoppage in just three rounds. This, alone, is impressive given that Turner is a legitimate tough who had never been stopped and who had extended Filip Hrgovic the eight round distance in his previous fight.

Gorman also displayed fast hands, fast feet and accurate, fluid punches which detonated upon his opponent in narrow bunches. I was legitimately impressed in what I would consider a breakthrough performance at that level.

The big challenge for Gorman is going to be Daniel Dubois. These two share a promoter in Frank Warren and Frank is ready to make this fight. It is assumed that the fight is to be made with a Dubois victory in mind, and I agree he should be the favorite, but I am interested in the way these two skillsets line up.  Gorman is aggressive and essentially an inside fighter even when he boxes given the reach disparity he is going to have to consistently overcome; Dubois is going to be interested in keeping the shorter man out.

More than that though I’ve identified Dubois’ shortcoming as being his handspeed; I am convinced that Gorman is quicker – the Lancashire man just might shatter some smiles when these two get in the ring together.

THE LITTLE GUY: OLEKSANDR USYK

FROM: Ukraine HEIGHT: 6’3 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 220lbs AGE: 31 RECORD: 14-0 with 11 KOs

Note that in listing weights of these fighters I’ve gone exclusively for the heaviest I think they can be and retain a claim to their being in top shape at this time. This is speculative at best, but Oleksandr Usyk has never weighed in at anything like 220lbs and may never. The current cruiserweight number one is not a heavyweight.

Nor is he a prospect; in fact, I think you could reasonably rank him among the ten best fighters in the world pound-for-pound. But is he a heavyweight prospect?  Usyk has made no secret of his ambitions as they pertain to the richest of divisions and there are those who believe his brilliant, gliding footwork and the butter-smooth combination punches which slide out of him like bullets from a well-greased gun make him a direct threat to the more robotic Anthony Joshua.

That all remains to be seen – more, it remains to be seen if Usyk will land at heavyweight as a winner or a loser. His division defining fight with number two cruiserweight Murat Gassiev is currently moribund in promotional difficulties and may yet be abandoned, but if it comes off, the winner will demand the attention of the heavyweight division.

That winner may not be Uysk, however, as Gassiev seems just as dangerous. I hope Usyk prevails because his creeping southpaw genius will be a fascinating addition to the kingpin weight class.

AT THE SCHOOL OF MANNY STEWARD: VLAD SIRENKO

FROM: Ukraine HEIGHT: 6’3.5 WEIGHT IN SHAPE: 243lbs AGE: 23 RECORD: 7-0 with 6 KOs

Vlad Sirenko has fought nobody of note in his seven professional fights to date and is boxing not out of his home country of Ukraine but out of South Africa, two very good reasons why even hardcore Sweet Science readers may not have heard of him. That may change over the coming years.

Sirenko is trained by Emanuel Steward disciple James Ali Bashir who has also done work with Sirenko’s countryman Oleksandr Uysk. Although no direct comparisons can be made between the two men it is interesting to me that Bashir sees it as worthwhile to travel all the way to South Africa to work with the Ukrainian.

Sirenko is a quick-fisted and technically excellent puncher with very decent pressing footwork when he is called upon to use it. He punched with stiffening power against the very limited opposition he has met and appears to be a talented and direct body-puncher in a division where this skill is often neglected.  Six-three-and-a-half is probably par for heavyweight these days but if Bashir is developing himself a body-snatcher in Sirenko, the fighter being a little lower to the ground may not displease him.

The red flag here is Sirenko’s loss in WSB to the more than solid but less than brilliant Frazer Clark who stopped Sirenko in five.  These things can happen, and holding sub-professional losses against fighters new to the paid ranks is never advisable in my opinion, but if Sirenko’s chin is less than good, so is his potential, disciplined defense or not.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR

In June 2019 we’ll take a look at this smorgasbord of talent once more and see who has done what. Has Gorman shocked Dubois? Has Joyce gone over the top?  Is Hrgovic delivering on his promise? How many of these guys have been bombed out?

One or more, for certain, will have suffered that ignominy; heavyweight boxing is merciless with the fragile. Good, probably even great heavyweights have never revealed themselves as such because getting hit wasn’t in their skillset.

One or more of the above will be armed with a granite mandible though, and as the herd is thinned out throughout 2018 and 2019, this web site will work to keep you abreast of the movers and shakers.

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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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.

– – – –

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.

– – – –

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.

– – – –

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.

– – – –

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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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Asia & Oceania

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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