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RASKIN’S RANTS: From Unwarranted DQs To Unwarranted Blurcles



VazquezMarquezIV_Hogan11Vazquez-Arce does seem like a fine scrap on paper. TSS-EM thinks Rafael is a step closer to the end of the line than is Arce. What say you, TSS Universe? (Hogan)

As a lifelong Philly sports fan, I suppose I have to open this week’s column by commenting on the almost embarrassing bounties reaped by my football and baseball franchises this weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles, behind a dog-killing ex-con quarterback and more blockbuster free agent signings than the rest of the NFL combined, become one of the top four teams America loves to hate this year (joining the Cowboys, Patriots, and Steelers). But if they finally win a Super Bowl, that’s fine by me. Meanwhile, the Phillies managed to add another All-Star bat on Friday without giving up a single major leaguer and then swept the Pirates (not even requiring any help from the umps, it should be noted). According to one website I just checked (in other words, I did research, but only the bare minimum), the Phils currently have the shortest odds to win the World Series (+230, just ahead of the Red Sox at +240).

On the one hand, I’m thrilled to see my teams spending money that is not mine and possibly swindling other GMs. On the other hand, with the Eagles in particular, there will be so many new faces that I can’t deny I’m really just “rooting for laundry,” to borrow the famous Jerry Seinfeld line. So be it. As long as some guy wearing my preferred laundry hoists the Lombardi Trophy, all other details are incidental.

Unless you’re from Philly, you’ve probably tuned out by now, so let’s move along to boxing, the sport where we all have the same rooting interest: We just want to see a good fight. This week’s reader email suggests one that definitely qualifies as such.

Hi Eric,

I have an interesting matchup in mind. It seems Rafael Marquez’s next fight may be against top 122-pounder Toshiaki Nishioka, but since many people are of the opinion that the fight may not be so competitive, how about scrapping the idea in favor of this one: Rafael Marquez versus Jorge Arce. What’s not to love about this matchup!? Two popular Mexican warriors who make for exciting fights; both faded enough that they’ll both get hit plenty but neither so faded that fans would feel guilty about enjoying it; and there would even be a meaningless alphabet belt on the line, if either guy cares about that kind of thing. And there’s already the perfect slot for this fight—the undercard to Pacquiao-Marquez III! Both Marquez bros on the same card is never a bad thing and the appearance of Arce might entice casual fans who shelled out for the Pacquiao-Mosley snoozefest and remember how much fun his fight with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. was. It might even persuade those boxing fans who view Pacquiao-Marquez as a mismatch.

What do you think?

—Joe T.


I think you’re making entirely too much sense for your idea to ever become a reality. This is boxing, after all, the sport that puts a 5,000-ticket fight in a 90,000-seat stadium outside Detroit, the sport that is allowing Antonio Margarito to make more money after getting caught loading his gloves than he could when we thought he was legit, the sport that couldn’t give us Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones II between 1997 and 2004 but did give it to us in 2010. So let’s not discuss your idea in any realistic terms involving when and where. There’s little room in the boxing business for logic. Marquez-Nishioka is happening, which means Marquez-Arce won’t be happening on the November 12 pay-per-view undercard, no matter how perfect it would be in that slot. So let’s discuss your idea purely as a fantasy fight, because that’s all it is for now.

No question, Marquez vs. Arce is a sensational matchup, and I have to give you credit, Joe, because I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else. Both fighters are indeed faded to perfection, which is to say that both are still viable competitors but neither has the option of relying on razor-sharp reflexes and outboxing the other guy. Marquez-Arce can only be a bloody, brutal brawl. So many of the greatest fights in boxing history have come when both guys are either at the tail end of their primes or just beyond that, in the early stages of decline. Think the Gatti-Ward trilogy, Ali-Frazier III, Corrales-Castillo, and even the Vazquez-Marquez fights. Nobody in any of those fights was “shot” (except maybe Ward by the third Gatti fight and Vazquez in the fourth Marquez fight). But nobody was at their absolute physical peak either. That’s what we have with Arce and Marquez: faded but not shot, skilled but easy to hit, able to turn a fight with one punch, and willing to dig deep to win. Plus they’re both huge names for 122-pounders. As you wrote, what’s not to love?

Okay, enough living in a dream world, here are this week’s Rants on real fights and real news from around the boxing scene:

• Fights are not won and lost during Face Off With Max Kellerman. But if they were, mark down Floyd Mayweather for a guaranteed manhandling of Victor Ortiz. Mayweather was well spoken and made strikingly intelligent points, while Ortiz didn’t know what approach he wanted to take, his inexperience on the grand stage showed, and nothing he said really felt pure and honest. But, again, fights are not won and lost during Face Off. (Though I should note that Bernard Hopkins out-talked Jean Pascal and then outfought him, and Wladimir Klitschko narrowly outpointed David Haye on the set before comprehensively outpointing him in the ring.)

• I’m as big a Pawel Wolak fan as anybody. But I have to point out: His media blitz that has included the signing of a new managerial contract, talk of an alphabet title shot, etc., is doing a fine job of masking the reality that he’s coming off a fortunate draw in a fight nearly every observer expected him to win.

• If there’s a good fight going on, the fans are enjoying it, both boxers are producing viable offense, and one boxer ends up getting disqualified for punches that weren’t malicious in intent or damaging in effect, well, that’s just weak refereeing. Yes, Vic Drakulich, I’m talking to you. You sodomized the pooch in the Yordanis Despaigne-Edison Miranda fight. But don’t take my criticism personally, Vic. Refereeing is a hard job. Not everyone has the right mental makeup for it. There’s no shame in admitting you’re among those who don’t.

• Just when you thought Drakulich’s night couldn’t get any worse, Kenny Bayless came out and worked the next two fights on the ESPN2 broadcast. Not a flattering point of comparison for my man Vic.

• As for the main event that Bayless officiated on Friday Night Fights, you have to give Lamont Peterson serious points for closing the show. You just never know what the judges might say if you let them get the last word.

• Regarding the staredown between Despaigne and Miranda at the weigh-in: Why do we still have to blurcle the middle finger? It’s 2011. I feel like Stone Cold Steve Austin has lost and the terrorists have won.

• Great news, everybody: Nonito Donaire, one of the five most talented fighters on the planet, is coming back in October, after only a nine-month layoff following a career-best HBO-televised win in which he sustained no damage at all! (Remember what I wrote earlier about logic rarely prevailing in boxing?)

• Just have to say, I agree wholeheartedly with The Ring’s decision to move Amir Khan ahead of Tim Bradley in the junior welterweight rankings. Their 140-pound resumes are comparable, but recent achievement has to warrant additional weight. In the last two years, Khan is 6-0 at junior welter, with three wins I’d call highly meaningful. In that same time span, Bradley has only fought three times in the division (and had to settle for a no-contest in one of those bouts). It’s a close call, but activity is the difference maker here.

• Guess what happened last week? Some sanctioning body stripped some guy of his belt for no reason and now two undeserving guys will fight for the vacant belt. And that’s all I’ll say about that, because if fans, journalists, broadcast networks, and everyone else would just stop citing these for-profit organizations’ rankings or telling us who their beltholders are—in either positive or negative terms—maybe someday a generation of fighters will come up that isn’t interested in paying for their belts.

• Actually, that “someday” might have started this past weekend. Thank you, Mike Alvarado, for breaking free of the sheep mentality. I’m starting a “303! 303!” chant in my living room right now.

• In fact, just for being so unusually awesome, Mr. Alvarado, I’m going to do something I never do for anyone: give you props for having a tattoo with a cool-looking design. (On the other end of the tat spectrum, may I present junior featherweight Shawn Nichol and the pair of red lips inked into the side of his neck?)

• Did everyone get a look at Kevin McBride’s love handles and jiggling gut in his knockout loss to Marius Wach? Jeez, I’ve seen guys on press row with better physiques than that. Hey, Kevin, James Toney called; he wants his workout tapes back.

• I received a press release last week that began with the words “Boxing Sensation Hector Camacho Jr.” I have no idea what the next word was.

• Check out a new episode of Ring Theory ( this week (probably Wednesday), featuring a guest appearance from the always insightful Ring Editor-in-Chief Nigel Collins. We’ll talk Khan vs. Judah, Tarver vs. Green, Mares vs. Agbeko, and of course, with the “Quick Picks” competition suddenly heating up, Raskin vs. Dettloff.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar



Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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A Kaleidoscope of Boxers Guaranteed to Provide Action: Past and Present



Marvelous Marvin

To set the tone for this article, one needs only to watch the way in which Thomas Hearns came out in the first round against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He was ready to rock and roll as was his fearsome looking opponent. The ensuing unmitigated savagery was the quintessential illustration of full-tilt boogie.

For most boxing fans, the anticipation of an all-out action bout gets the chills running down spines faster than anything else. But not all, as some prefer a tactical or clinical fight that someone like Mikey Garcia can orchestrate and others –but not many—enjoy a defensive gem via a Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, or Pernell Whitaker. A few love a genuine blood fest that a Gabe Rosado-type can provide, and who doesn’t like seeing something special as in Sugar Ray Leonard, Kostya Tszyu, Terence Crawford or Vasiliy Lomachenko?

Chill-or-be-chilled types like Bob Satterfield and Tommy Morrison were super exciting. In this connection—a certain cadre of warriors, past and present, would come out charging and stalking as soon as the bell rang. Many demonstrated a marked disdain for defense and used a non-stop, no let-up pressure that discouraged their opponents, especially in the late rounds. The anticipation from the crowd was palpable because it sensed some form of destruction was on its way. The cheering would start during the instructions and sometimes did not let up until the concussive end.

This cadre included Rocky Marciano, Tony Ayala, Vicious Victor Galindez, Jeff Fenech, Roberto Duran, and Julio Cesar Chavez (who sapped the spirit of his opponents by ripping away at their mid-section). Also, Carl “The Cat”  Thompson , chill-or-be-chilled Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno (60-12-1 with 59 KOs),  Ron Lyle, the ultra-violent Edwin Valero, the appropriately nicknamed JulianMr KO” Letterlough, James “The Outlaw” Hughes and his mindboggling ability to snatch victory from certain defeat, Thai stalking monster Khaosai Galaxy (47-1),  the first version of George Foreman (pictured with the aforementioned Lyle), Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim, Ruslan  Provodnikov, Orlando “Siri” Salido, Marcos Maidana, Lenny Z, Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios, and Mickey Roman (the later four are still fighting but past their primes).

Others who presently incite the anticipation of something special include (but are not limited to) Naoya “Monster” Inoue (16-0), Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (24-0), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1), Alex Saucedo (27-0), and, of course, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1) who now has become slightly more tactical like his nemesis, Canelo Alvarez (50-1-1).

These stand out as representative.


A prime Mike Tyson—and the emphasis is on prime– was the epitome of a boxer who guaranteed action. One simply would not leave his or her seat when “Iron Mike” was doing his highlight reel thing, and his blowout of Michael Spinks punctuated his standing at the top of all-action type fighters, even if the action was usually non-mutual.

Joe Frazier came out smokin’ and would not let up until either he or his opponent were done. For the most part, decisions were not in Joe’s DNA and his left hook was as malicious as a hook can be. With Joe, you just sat back and enjoyed the action. Frazier, wrote boxing historian Tracy Callis,  “was a strong, ‘swarmer’ style boxer who applied great pressure on his opponent and dealt out tremendous punishment with a relentless attack of lefts and rights; His left hook was especially stiff and quick when delivered during his bob-and-weave perpetual attack; he fought three minutes per round and never seemed to tire.”

Carlos “Escopeta” (Shotgun) Monzon (87-3-9) was a powerful and rangy Argentinean killing machine, built like an iron rod. Some said he pushed his punches. Well if he did, he pushed 87 opponents to defeat. He also became only the second man to stop former three-time world champion Emile Griffith, turning the trick in the 14th round. Blessed with great and deceptive stamina and a solid chin, he seemingly was an irresistible force. He was unbeaten over the last 81 bouts of his career, a span of 13 years, and defended his title 14 times. “One would need to write a book in order to do justice to comparing a fighter of Carlos Monzon’s calibre to his fellow all-time greats,” wrote Mike Casey.

Arturo Gatti and Irish Micky Ward were the quintessential action fighters. One is gone amidst controversy, and hopefully the other will not pay a price for his many ring wars. With these two, just count up the Fights-of-the-Year and the rest is history. Suffice it to say that Gatti and Ward will be forever linked in boxing lore.

Until his fateful fight with Nigel Benn (another all-action fighter), Gerald McClellan was absolutely, positively, a stalking monster with dynamite in his gloves. It was ferocity and fury at its highest level and it was something to behold. Sadly, his fight with Benn left him permanently disabled; his story remains a dark stain on boxing. As Ian McNeilly notes, “one man’s finest hour was the end of another man’s life as he knew it.”

Michael “The Great” Katsidis’s all-action style made thrilling fights a lock. The Kat” was willing to take three to deliver one. It was blood and guts to the last drop. Whether he too exacted a heavy price for this style remains to be seen.

Lucia Rijker, AKA “The Dutch Destroyer,” lived up to her moniker and destroyed everyone in her path. Again, it wasn’t “if,” it was “when.”

Christy Martin (49-7-3) put female boxing on the map in the ‘90s and she did it by going undefeated in 36 straight encounters, running roughshod over her opponents as evidenced by her 25 wins by stoppage during this run. She also managed to steal the show from a Mike Tyson main event in 1996 during her memorable and bloody battle with Deirdre Gogarty.


Deontay Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” has a record of 40-0.  With 39 wins coming by KO—many in spectacular fashion, The “Bomber” brings with him that same sense of anticipation that Tyson did. It’s not if; it’s when and “when” can occur at any time. But unlike Tyson, there is a vulnerability that Luis Ortiz exposed that makes the excitement index go even higher.

Dillian Whyte (24-1) has seldom been in a dull affair. His vulnerability combined with his mode of attack ensures thrilling action and the possibility of a stoppage at any time. Unlike Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora, Whyte is consistently aggressive and dangerous.

Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2) has slowed down considerably but his recent stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse offers hope that he can still conjure up his exciting whirlwind style of fast in-an-out movements that allowed him to win multiple titles over several future Hall of Fame opponents between 2005 and 2011. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., if rumors are true, would allow Pac Man an opportunity to accomplish a number of extraordinary things including avenging a prior defeat and ruining Mayweather’s undefeated record. Time will tell.

Though he appears to have shot his wad, a prime Antonio Margarito was the classic stalk, stun, and kill fighter. Heck, he belonged on the Discovery Channel. His two blowouts of Kermit Cintron showed the “Tijuana Tornado” at his most brutal. His come-from-behind demolition of Miguel Cotto stands out for its drama and bloodletting—and subsequent speculative controversy.

David Lemieux (39-4) always brings the heat. His fights seldom end as scheduled. With KO power in both hands and a propensity to rehydrate by 20 pounds, he is the essence of danger and attendant excitement. “With the sheer power he carries, Lemieux will always have a shot at beating any middleweight, and he is almost always involved in good action fights,” says James Slater.

Amanda Serrano (35-1-1) is the only women’s boxer to win world titles in six divisions. The “Real Deal” is unique in that she has a high KO percentage (74 percent) which is rare for female boxers. Amanda is 120 seconds of guaranteed action for each round.


While Iron Mike Tyson is THE MAN, Matthew Saad Muhammad also warrants special billing as he embodied what this article is all about. Steve Farhood summed up the essence of Saad Muhammad with an observation that would be appropriate for his tombstone: “Eddie Gregory (Mustafa Muhammad) has a better jab, Marvin Johnson wields more power, James Scott does more sit ups. But, Muhammad’s heart is the size of a turnbuckle, and it anchors his title reign.”

Who did I leave out? Whose name or names would you add to this list?

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