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RASKIN’S RANTS: The Real Winners & Losers Of Mares-Agbeko



SHOCHAMP_AGBEKO-MARES_FIGHT-1492If this life were fair, Russell Mora would be sentenced to about ten of those “bordeline” shots that Mares threw at Agbeko’s groin and legs.

One of these days, we’re going to get a highly entertaining fight that ends with one boxer winning deservedly, no controversy, nobody making excuses, nobody filing appeals. But until that day comes, we have fights like Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko to discuss. This week’s dip into the mini-mailbag asks a simple question that allows me to comment extensively on Saturday’s action-packed but ultimately unsatisfying end to Showtime’s bantamweight tournament:


Jay Nady, Laurence Cole, and Arthur Mercante Jr. are like the Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, and Jack Johnson of lousy refereeing, three absolute legends of sucking. But then there is Russell Mora, apparently the Buster Douglas of awful referees. He doesn’t have a consistent track record of sucking to compete with a buffoon like Cole, but for one night, at the peak of his powers, nobody could touch him. This really might have been the worst single-fight performance by a ref I’ve ever seen.

Here’s my question for you: There’s a certain so-called boxing writer on a certain site you used to write for who reviews the weekend in boxing with incredibly lame and obvious picks for “biggest winner” and “biggest loser.” (In the spirit of the last episode of Ring Theory, where you chose not to give sanctioning bodies or bad writers free publicity by stating their names, I won’t state his name either. But I think you know who I’m talking about.) I can promise you right now, this “writer” will tell us Abner Mares is the big winner because he technically won the fight, and Joseph Agbeko is the big loser because he technically lost. So I’m turning to you to think more creatively and tell me who the big winners and losers from this fight REALLY were. Looking forward to what you come up with.



Thanks for the email, it’s an excellent set-up. I’d be more than happy to tell you who the real winners and losers from the Mares-Agbeko fight were:


Agbeko scored huge sympathy points, which sometimes carry a career farther than a simple “W” does. He also earned major respect points by battling through all the low blows and a slow start (I only gave him one of the first six rounds) to rally and do enough to earn the win had he not had the 11th-round knockdown call go against him and had Mares been penalized at least once or twice like he should have been. That 11th round alone might have been a four-point swing; two judges apparently ruled it 10-8 for Mares, but it should have been 10-8 for Agbeko. Bottom line: People will remember that Agbeko fought his ass off, and he’ll be more popular than ever before on account of the fact that he got blatantly screwed.


Not a whole lot of explanation needed here. This was the height of incompetence, compounded by a stubborn streak. When Mora was shown the slo-mo replay of the “knockdown” punch landing squarely on the cup, he was too pig-headedly defensive to earn back a measure of public support by saying, “Boy, you know, now that I see it in slo-mo, yep, that was a low blow. My mistake. I missed it.” His behavior in the interview matched his behavior in the fight; he was locked into a singular mindset, and he just couldn’t accept that it was the wrong one. The “Buster Douglas of awful referees,” as you called him, should probably go eat himself into a diabetic coma and come out of it in two or three years, when this has all blown over.


Mares’ stock goes neither up nor down. He remains a definite top-five bantamweight who can’t quite win definitively against other top-five bantamweights. He’s an entertaining fighter, but we already knew that. I’d estimate he went low about 15 times over the course of the fight (a few of the shots the Showtime crew claimed were low appeared to me to be on the beltline), but he didn’t seem to be fouling on purpose. He was just throwing one borderline shot after another and figuring, “If I’m not going to lose points for it, why stop?” You can’t hold Mora’s ineptitude against Mares. That said, you can’t really call Mares a winner just because he got his hand raised.


Gray is a winner because his boorish interview style was directed at the villain of the moment and therefore was well-received by the public for once. Bernstein is a winner because he (a) identified that Mora was blowing it very early in the proceedings, and (b) criticized him in a rational, even reluctant manner, coming off as the genuine pro that he is. And instant-replay advocates win because the 11th-round knockdown would have been easy to reverse between rounds if the powers-that-be in boxing would finally get into the 20th century—you know, now that we’re 11 years into the 21st.


Byrd and Shellenberger are mild losers for their slightly-too-wide 115-111 scorecards (though you could argue they’re winners because Mora’s atrocious officiating made their questionable scoring barely worth mentioning). The fans are losers because they got an unsatisfying result and because an attractive 118-pound opponent for Nonito Donaire failed to emerge (Donaire thumps either Mares or Agbeko). And De La Hoya is a loser for pulling the ol’ tweet-n-delete with a disgusting comment about Showtime’s broadcasters having bet on Agbeko. You would think after getting sued for slander once, Oscar might have learned his lesson. Not so much. Time to put child locks on that Twitter account, Richard.

That wraps up this week’s mini-mailbag. Now here are a handful of bullet-pointed bloviations to get you through your Monday:

• Sure, I’m curious to hear what the investigators have to say about what they think really happened the night Arturo Gatti died. But mostly, I’m sad to be thinking about this again.

• Speaking of sad, what the hell happened to Kermit Cintron? It’s not just that he seems to have hit the wall so suddenly and without a punishing fight to blame it on; it’s that he’s emerged as the least interesting fighter on the planet. As flawed as he always was, he used to be fun on several levels, whether he was landing sensational knockout blows, shaving the NBC peacock into his hair, or even diving out of the ring like Mick Foley. Now he’s just kinda hanging around. But, hey, it could be worse. He could be David Tua.

• I’ve been away from television access most Friday nights and Saturday mornings this summer, so I’m very thankful indeed for However, I can’t begin to figure out how it’s determined which clips the website is legally blocked from showing. This past Friday, they cut out Joe Tessitore’s tribute to Scott LeDoux and the audio of an ESPN Radio interview. I would have thought ESPN-owned materials would be fair game. Then again, Lennox Lewis is currently on his second premium-cable broadcasting gig, so there’s a lot I don’t understand about this business.

• When a fighter goes down and Steve Smoger doesn’t even start to count, you know it was a sensational punch. Dannie Williams made himself a prospect worth watching with a right hand that proved not all fighters named Antonio Cervantes are created equal.

• TBS’ Lopez Tonight, a talk show that frequently welcomed boxers as guests, has been cancelled due to low ratings. The lesson: All of the Americans without senses of humor are already watching Jay Leno, making it hard for other unfunny hosts to attract an audience.

• Two things very much worth watching this coming weekend: the season finale of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, with its outstanding short-notice main event of Demetrius Andrade vs. Grady Brewer; and the return of Alfredo Angulo, which will hopefully be viewable somewhere on the internet. Solid stuff as far as the mid-August doldrums go.

• This has nothing to do with boxing, but I’m positing the theory that The Situation’s romantic affection for Snooki is an act, designed to get him more camera time this season after he slipped into a supporting role in Season Three. I’m also not going to rule out the possibility that Sitch went legally blind prior to the fourth season. (That would certainly explain why the normally image-obsessed Situation is suddenly allowing himself to appear on camera with a dead poodle stapled to his head.)

• Look for a new episode of Ring Theory ( this week. I’m not sure yet what topics we’ll be discussing, but I do know that you won’t hear much talk from Bill Dettloff about the volume of his footsteps.

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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