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Dave Zirin, Jim Brown, and Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown created a new template for athletes: competitors who were big, strong, and fast. They also heralded a more aggressive approach on the part

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Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown created a new template for athletes: competitors who were big, strong, and fast. They also heralded a more aggressive approach on the part of black athletes in confronting the status quo on racial issues.

Millions of pages have been written about Ali’s excellence as a fighter and his impact on society. Brown has been less fully explored. Jim Brown: Last Man Standing by Dave Zirin (Blue Rider Press) gives Brown his due as a football player but keys on his social importance.

Brown is a symbol of things good and bad: personal pride, black empowerment, athletic supremacy, and the worst kind of misogyny. He has special credence and is more remarkable in some ways because he’s regarded by many knowledgeable observers as the greatest football player of all time.

Brown played with the Cleveland Browns from 1957 through 1965. His career, Zirin writes, was “Homeric” and “marked by feats that still make grown men shudder with joy.”

In nine seasons, Brown led the league in rushing eight times. He’s the only player in NFL history to average one hundred yards rushing per game over the course of his career and the only running back to average more than five yards each time he carried the ball. Remarkably, despite the fact that he touched the ball on sixty percent of Cleveland’s offensive plays, he never missed a game due to injury.

“To understand how Jim Brown was able to make such an enduring political impact,” Zirin states, “we first have to understand the awe he inspired inside the lines. On offense, the all-time great skill players have inspired astonishment yet never physical fear. On that side of the line of scrimmage, the list of true intimidators begins and ends with Jim Brown.”

As Brown’s football-playing days wound down, he segued into acting with significant roles in films like The Dirty Dozen, Rio Conchos, Ice Station Zebra, 100 Rifles, and a string of “blaxploitation” movies. He was a serviceable actor with a commanding screen presence and one of Hollywood’s first black action heroes. That fit nicely with his standing as a forceful advocate for black empowerment.

Brown, Zirin writes, “represented the seedlings of ‘Black Power’ a decade before the phrase was popularly known.”

In an era when sports unions were virtually non-existent, he led the movement for player rights within the Cleveland Browns organization. That led to complaints that Brown was a “locker room lawyer” and causing racial problems within the team.

“One man’s racial problem is another man’s equal rights,” Brown responded.

He elaborated on that theme in a 1964 autobiography entitled Off My Chest, writing, “I do not crave the white man’s approval. I crave only the rights I’m entitled to as a human being. The acceptance of the Negro in sports is really an insignificant development that warms the heart of the Negro less than it does of the white man who salves his troubled conscience by telling himself, ‘Isn’t it wonderful that Negroes and whites are out there playing together.’”

In 1965, Brown formed the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, later known as the Black Economic Union. Between 1965 and 1972, the BEU had offices in six cities and helped launch more than four hundred black-owned businesses. Brown’s stated aim in forming the organization was “to make more black Americans rich and powerful. We wanted them spending their hours building their economics and to stop marching, singing, kneeling, and praying.”

In that regard, Zirin notes, “Brown was not looking for a movement or to attach himself to anyone else’s agenda. He was an organizer, not a movement builder. He worked to see the black community assert its economic independence and fight racism, but also looked at the existing manifestations of the ‘fight against racism’ – marching, demonstrating, even arming yourself for revolutionary ends – and saw a waste of everyone’s time.”

Thus, over the years, Brown has mocked the civil rights movement as “parades” and declared, “If I ever march, I’ll march alone.” He has declared his antipathy for the movement anthem – We Shall Overcome – with the observation, “I hated that song. It was about marching and singing. I didn’t like marching. I didn’t march. And I didn’t like singing to get my freedom. To me, that was weak.”

Even today, Brown reaffirms, “I didn’t think much of Dr. King. If you think about a majority of the rhetoric, it’s about what’s being done to us. It doesn’t have damn near anything that says what we’re going to do for ourselves.”

And how did Brown weigh the civil rights movement against dollars?

One of many interesting episodes in Zirin’s book recounts how Olympic sprinter Tommie Smith planned to try his hand at pro football after the 1968 Olympics. Prior to the games, Brown agreed to represent Smith as his agent and loaned him $2,000 against future earnings. Smith won a gold medal in the 200-meter sprint in Mexico City and, with silver medalist John Carlos, raised his fist in a protest against racism during the medal ceremony. That made him persona non grata in the NFL. Brown demanded return of the $2,000 and refused to represent Smith.

The Black Economic Union lost steam in the early 1970s. Eventually it was supplanted by Amer-I-Can as the focal point of Brown’s efforts to impact on society. Brown invested $400,000 of his own money to launch Amer-I-Can. Its stated mission is to foster individual improvement and combat gang violence. On numerous occasions, he has offered his California home as a site for negotiations among rival gangs.

No book about Brown would be honest or complete without an examination of his chronic mistreatment of women. Zirin doesn’t shrink from the task of recounting what he calls his subject’s “toxic violence” against women.

Brown had a badly fragmented home life during his formative years and was largely neglected by his mother. He was not a good family man during his first marriage, which lasted on paper from 1959 through 1972, and ignored his children from that marriage for much of their lives.

Again and again, Zirin makes the point that the central theme of Brown’s life – from the way he played football to his struggle for black empowerment – has been about Brown’s view of ”manhood.”

“Proving his manhood through fatherhood,” Zirin explains, “was not nearly as enticing as doing it through sexual conquest.”

Almost a decade after their divorce, Sue Jones Brown recalled, “Before we got married, he said there was always going to be other women. He said, ‘I’m Jim Brown. I can marry anybody in the world, and there are always going to be other women. Can you deal with that?’ I said I could, and I did.”

Throughout his adult life, Brown has consistently stated a preference for sexual partners who are considerably younger than he is. At age 53, he wrote in Out of Bounds (his second autobiography), “Physically, between a young girl and an old one, there is no contest. I don’t like being told what I’m supposed to want. I prefer girls who are young. My lady right now is nineteen.” He also referenced his Hollywood home as a place for “creative orgies,” acknowledging, “I’ve had up to eight girls in my room, maybe four on my couch and four on my bed. I might have sex in one night with four or five of them. But only if Jim Junior was feeling exceptional. Some people think that makes me a pervert. I think it makes me lucky.”

But Brown’s sexual conduct has extended beyond sleeping around.

Under Brown’s “man code,” Zirin writes, “Women were often his pastime, his distraction, his proving ground, and at times the repository for his frustrations, existing only as extensions of desire for either sex or violence.”

In 1965, an 18-year-old woman named Brenda Ayers accused Brown of assault, claiming that he “forced an unnatural sex act” on her. He was tried and acquitted of the charges against him. The following year, Ayers filed a paternity suit. Brown, in Zirin’s words, “hired a team of top attorneys that Ayers could not hope to match” and prevailed in court. Twenty-four years later, Brown publicly acknowledged that the child was his.

Also in 1965, an Ohio State coed filed a rape charge against Brown but withdrew the charge before the case came to trial.

In 1968, Brown was alleged to have thrown a 22-year-old model named Eva Bohn-Chin off a hotel balcony in Los Angeles to a concrete walk twenty feet below. The police found blood on the floor and walls of Brown’s hotel room. Initially, he was charged with attempted murder. But the charges were dropped when Bohn-Chin refused to testify against him.

In 1971, he was accused of battery by two young women.

In 1985, a schoolteacher named Margot Tiff alleged that Brown beat and raped her when she refused to have sex in a menage a trois with him and another woman. The district attorney in Los Angeles chose to not prosecute the case.

In 1986 (when Brown was fifty), his then-fiancee, 21-year-old Debra Clark, accused Brown of assaulting her.

Brown married for the second time in 1997 at age 61. Two years later, he was arrested after smashing the window of his 25-year-old wife’s car in a fit of rage. He was convicted of vandalism and given the choice of spending six months in prison or accepting a three-part alternative package consisting of (1) four hundred hours of community service or forty hours of cleaning streets, (2) paying $1,700 to a domestic abuse charity, and (3) undergoing counseling for anger management. He chose prison rather than acknowledge that his conduct was related to domestic violence.

That was consistent with Brown’s constant denial of the accusations that have been leveled against him by women. But as Zirin observes, “The cases against Brown are extensive. He has often said that he has never been convicted of violence against women, which is true. Yet the cases span the years from 1965 through 1999. It’s a remarkable stretch that cannot be written off as just an endless series of law-and-order conspiracies, coincidences, or bad luck. Even without convictions of violence against women, there are enough 911 tapes and testimonials to see that this is not a fantasy created by those trying to destroy him.”

There are also Brown’s words from a 2014 interview, when he said, “All rejection is difficult to take, and who rejects you more than a f****** woman?”

“The history of accusations of violence against women,” Zirin concludes, “has scarred Brown’s legacy. Barack Obama – who as president took a particular joy from his regular interaction with black sports heroes of yesteryear – never dialogued with Brown. Donald Trump, however, rolled out the red carpet. In December 2016, the president-elect sat with Brown and former NFL player Ray Lewis [who, in 2000, pled guilty to obstruction of justice in conjunction with the police investigation of a double murder]. Brown left the meeting saying, ‘I fell in love with [Trump] because he really talks about helping black people.’”

And now we come to Brown’s relationship with Muhammad Ali.

Brown was never a member of the Nation of Islam, but he was comfortable with people who were. On February 25, 1964, hours after Cassius Clay dethroned Sonny Liston, the newly-crowned heavyweight champion sat in a room at a small black hotel called Hampton House with Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke, and Brown. The four men talked for hours.

Brown later introduced Ali and Herbert Muhammad (Ali’s manager and the son of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad) to Bob Arum. Thereafter, a company called Main Bout Inc. was formed to promote Ali’s fights. Herbert Muhammad and John Ali (Elijah Muhammad’s top aide) controlled fifty percent of the stock. Brown had twenty percent. Closed-circuit guru Mike Malitz had twenty percent, and Arum had ten.

On April 29, 1967, Ali refused induction into the United States Army. Five weeks later, on June 4, Brown hosted a remarkable gathering.

“Ali had the opportunity to make a deal, to go into the service and not see combat,” Brown later reminisced. “And Herbert asked me to talk to him about it. I’ll tell you the truth. Herbert would not have minded Ali going into the Army, because they were starting to make good money together, and I didn’t think Herbert was necessarily wrong. If holding that meeting was a bad act, I wouldn’t have done it. But when a man makes a decision of that magnitude, he needs friends to help him sort things out. We wanted Ali to understand all the implications of his acts and make sure he was given a choice. So I called some people into Cleveland. John Wooten, Walter Beach, and Sid Williams, from the Browns; Willie Davis, Curtis McClinton, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bobby Mitchell, Jim Shorter. We met at my office. They were beautiful guys, and some of them thought Ali should go into the service. But he was adamant. He said simply, ‘I’m not going because it’s against my religion.’ And that was that. No one tried to convince him otherwise. We just wanted to discuss it with him, and I thought he showed tremendous courage.”

There’s an iconic photograph of that gathering. As described by Zirin, “Jim Brown, the greatest runner in NFL history and member of the 1964 champion Cleveland Browns, sits alongside the greatest winner in team sports history, Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. Next to them is the linchpin of the most dominant team in college basketball history, twenty-year-old Lew Alcindor (later to be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) of the UCLA Bruins. They are surrounded by a collection of black pro athletes. Also at the table is future Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes. At the center of them all is Muhammad Ali.”

Dave Zirin is currently sports editor for The Nation and a columnist for The Progressive. His writing has long focused on the politics of sports. He researches thoroughly, writes clearly, and thinks creatively. Jim Brown: Last Man Standing is an honest, informative, and important book that lays bare what Zirin calls “the collision of Brown’s greatness and his flaws.”

Zirin’s book also brought back memories for me of time that I spent talking with Brown. I was researching the book that ultimately became Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Brown was one of the people I wanted to talk with. Ali’s best friend, Howard Bingham, gave me Brown’s home telephone number and told Brown to expect my call. I called on the evening of May 11, 1989. Brown said he was busy but we could talk if I called back the following night.

He was true to his word. The next evening, we talked for almost two hours. Our conversation touched on a wide range of subjects: the night Cassius Clay won the heavyweight championship; the formation of Main Bout Inc.; the meeting in Cleveland after Ali refused induction; and more.

Brown’s thoughts that evening echoed themes that he has been passionate about for his entire life:

*         “The nature of the controversy was that white folks could not stand free black folks. White America could not stand to think that a sports hero that it was allowing to make big dollars would embrace something like the Nation of Islam. But this young man had the courage to stand up like no one else and risk, not only his life, but everything else that he had.”

*         “Ali was a true warrior. It was unbelievable, the courage he had. He wasn’t just a championship athlete. He was a champion who fought for his people. He was above sports; he was part of history. The man used his athletic ability as a platform to project himself right up there with world leaders, taking chances that absolutely no one else took, going after things that very few people have the courage to go after. Ali was involved in the Vietnam War. Ali was involved in the struggle for racial equality. The Boston Celtics weren’t involved in the 1960s. The Montreal Canadiens, the Green Bay Packers, the New York Yankees; they weren’t involved in that. From the standpoint of his ability to perform and his ability to be involved with the world, Ali was the most important sports figure in history. To do what he did, to achieve the pinnacle of his profession, to fight for freedom for black people, to perform while being ostracized and still be a champion; Jackie Robinson died from that, and Ali was able to prevail.

*         “If you want to see man at his best, take a look at Ali in his prime. When Ali came back from exile, he became the darling of America, which was good for America because it brought black and white together. But the Ali that America ended up loving was not the Ali I loved most. I didn’t feel the same about him anymore because the warrior I loved was gone. In a way, he became part of the establishment. And I suppose, in a sense, there’s nothing wrong with that, because if you can come to a point where you make all people feel good, maybe that’s greater than being a fighter for black people. But I didn’t like it.”

Fast-forward to April 14, 1991. I was with Ali at a hotel in Philadelphia for a banquet commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the first Ali-Frazier fight. Late that afternoon, I went to the dining room to look around. The hotel staff was setting up. Howard Bingham was there, sitting on the edge of a table, talking with a man who was wearing a tuxedo and a green-black-and-red kufi.

“This is someone you should meet,” Howard told me.

Because the man was sitting, I didn’t realize how big he was.

“I’m Jim,” the man said.

He stood up and extended his hand.

And the realization hit.

“Jim Brown,” I blurted out.

“No,” he corrected. “Just Jim.”

I‘ve thought about that moment many times since then, most notably on June 9, 2015, just before Game 3 of the NBA Championship Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

Dave Zirin sets that scene: “The Cavs are at home in Cleveland after two games in Oakland, attempting to finally remove the ‘God hates Cleveland’ curse from the city. No Cleveland sports team has won a title since that day in 1964 when the Browns shut out the Baltimore Colts 27-0. The current star of Cleveland, LeBron “King” James, a person so physically imposing he looks like a twenty-first century incarnation of a Greek god in African skin, took a moment before the start of the game to turn to a man sitting courtside. In front of the raucous packed house and a national television audience, the King bowed.”

Jim Brown is now 82 years old. Mundane acts such as turning a doorknob are difficult for him. He walks with the assistance of two canes. But on this day, with both teams on the court just prior to the tip-off for one of the biggest games in Cleveland history, LeBron James turned toward Brown and bowed.

Just Jim.

Congratulations to Dave Zirin on a job well done. He has put us on the road to better understanding this complex formidable man

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

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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).

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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 8: Competing Cards in N.Y. and L.A.

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Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”

DiBella

Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at www.360promotions.us and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

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Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told GMAnetwork.com’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

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