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RASKIN’S RANTS: Oscar Deals With Reality, Floyd Deals With “Reality”

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hbo-mayweather-ortiz-247-headerDid everyone catch HBO’s Bob Papa not even attempting to pronounce “Hlatshwayo” during the lead-up to the Andre Berto-Jan Zaveck fight on Saturday night? Papa quickly said something to the effect of “Hasho,” mumbling his way through the second syllable like he was Chevy Chase doing a comedy bit, and moved on.

But I’m not going to criticize Papa for mailing one in. If anything, I envy him for being so blasé. One of these days, I’m going to send Editor Mike a completely half-assed column that took 45 minutes to write, and I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

But that day is not today. I put actual effort into answering a reader email and compiling the weekly Rants. I even used Google a couple of times to make sure my information was correct. So enjoy it while you can, because a man can only care about the quality of his work for so long before he takes the “Hasho” route:

Hi Eric,

I know the fight between the Mayweather father and son on 24/7 looked real, but I’m not buying it. It seems I’m in the great minority on that. But did you notice how often both guys turned toward the camera when they were hurling their insults? And more to the point, why should we believe anything Floyd Jr. does or says? This is a guy who acts like a d-head to every opponent in the build-up to the fight, then suddenly is Mr. Magnanimous after the fight ends. He even claimed his partying lifestyle is purely for image enhancement, to sell fights. If you’re going to make that kind of a claim, everything you do has to be questioned. So I’m questioning this spat with his dad. It looked like scripted “reality” TV to me, like The Hills or Laguna Beach.

One more thing about Mayweather: I can’t believe how little flak he’s taken for using the word “f-ggot.” Any guesses as to why he’s getting a free pass on that one?

By the way, great call on Helenius looking like Karl Hungus from The Big Lebowski. I’d been trying to place that Scandinavian-meathead look he has, and you nailed it.

Great stuff, keep on rantin’,
J-Dog

J-Dog,

I hope someone else came up with the nickname “J-Dog” for you, because there are few things in this world lamer than calling yourself “Dog.”

For the reasons you give, I can’t 100 percent rule out the possibility that the Mayweathers were acting. But I’m at about 99.8 percent. Yes, they were turning their bodies toward the cameras at the outset of the argument, but as it went on, they seemed to stop being conscious of the camera crew. It’s hard to explain exactly why I don’t think the verbal war between Big Floyd and Little Floyd was staged, but I’ll invoke Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous line about pornography and say, “I know it when I see it.” It just FELT real to me.

As for “Money” slipping in that sexual-orientation slur, you’re right that it’s barely been mentioned in the press, especially compared to the way Kobe Bryant became the lead topic on PTI for a week when he did the same thing. I have two theories as to why Mayweather isn’t taking extreme heat: (1) A lot of people didn’t hear it. I know I missed it the first time and only caught it on my second viewing. You didn’t SEE him say the word—you only heard him from off-camera, and barely. (2) Mayweather has lowered the bar for the level of class people expect from him to the point that something like this gets shrugged off. If Manny Pacquiao had said that word, there would be a firestorm. Same with Derek Jeter or Tom Brady or Kevin Durant or anyone else who is perceived as a nice guy. But Mayweather has a history of behavior like this (if not a history of using that particular word), and to a certain extent, people tend to tune it out.

Thankfully, nobody tunes out the Rants, so let’s get to ’em:

• Well, Episode Two of 24/7 Mayweather-Ortiz wasn’t as memorable as the first, but there were two moments worth commenting on. First, in the long and storied history of people misusing the word “literally,” Ortiz butchered it perhaps more spectacularly than anyone ever has when he explained, “If you’re talking to me, you’re literally talking to a tree, bro.” And second, how eye-opening was it to learn that Mayweather bets on preseason NFL football? That, my friends, is what you call a gambling problem.

• On another Mayweather-Ortiz note, I’m curious to see, come fight night, who’ll enter the ring first/last and be introduced first/last. Mayweather is the superstar, but Ortiz has the alphabet belt. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s in the contract that Mayweather at least gets to enter the ring second.

• If I ever become a referee, it will be my goal to get work in Mississippi. I’m a big fan of their business-casual dress code.

• Apparently Andre Berto took to heart all that talk about him having no beard. I like the Bill Russell look on him. He’s no better of a fighter than he was before, but at least he looks more bad-ass now.

• I guess there’s no Slovenian version of the F-bomb, hence Jan Zaveck’s use of the English version. What a bummer; I really want to learn at least one Slovenian curse word to have in my back pocket. I guess I’ll have to look up “asinine” in a Slovenian-English dictionary.

• I have about eight or nine toes on the Gary Russell bandwagon now, and I must admit, I’m even entertained watching him duck punches. I normally don’t pay too much attention to the CompuBox numbers, but landing 60 percent of your powerpunches is ridiculous, and holding your opponent to 16 percent landed on powerpunches is equally absurd. Could Russell be that next American-born superstar that so many skeptics believe doesn’t exist? Possibly, although featherweight tends to lurk a little below the mainstream radar. One thing Russell needs if he’s going to make it big is a real nickname. “Mr. Gary Russell Jr.” ain’t cutting it. Whoever came up with that creative brainstorm was definitely having a “Hasho” moment.

• As you’ve probably heard, HBO has ordered a pilot episode of Da Brick, a drama series loosely based on Mike Tyson’s youth. Co-producer Doug Ellin described the series as “Entourage meets The Wire.” So that either means I’ll watch every episode and regret it, or want to watch every episode and never find time for it.

• How many people who don’t follow boxing would have picked Marco Antonio Rubio to win his fight this past weekend after seeing this picture? http://fightnews.com/Boxing/rubio1.jpg

• Oscar De La Hoya was in the news just a little bit last week, wasn’t he? A few thoughts on some of the things he said, did, and is rumored to have done: First, I really hate the phrasing of his claim, “I don’t have the courage to take my own life.” I get what he was trying to express, but “courage” was the wrong word. Second, I found his admission that the lingerie pictures were legit to be curiously timed. Doesn’t he understand that juicy revelations are supposed to be saved for future autobiographies so you can at least profit off of them? And third, the New York Post reported that De La Hoya paid the woman who took those photos $20-million to keep quiet. What a shame. For that kind of money, he could have hired a real editorial staff for The Ring’s website. (Zing!)

• As the world’s leading critic of Omar Narvaez’s protective matchmaking (I harp on it every year in my “State Of The Game” section in The Ring mag), I’m intrigued to see him stepping all the way up to face Nonito Donaire in October. This is the bantamweight equivalent of Sven Ottke coming to America to fight Roy Jones in 2002. It will not end well for Narvaez, but that’s okay. Better to take a shot and fail than to be Sven Ottke.

• Look for a new episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) this week, with previews and analysis of Vitali Klitschko-Tomasz Adamek, Yuriorkis Gamboa-Daniel Ponce De Leon, and of course, the whole Mayweather-Ortiz pay-per-view card. And Bill Dettloff and I both promise to keep the homophobic slurs to a minimum.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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

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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

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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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