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Other Than On Paper, Pacquiao-Marquez III Is A Tough Sell…LOTIERZO

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This is big fight week and the hype for the third and final encounter between all timers Manny Pacquiao 53-3-2 (38) and Juan Manuel Marquez 53-5-1 (39) is about to explode. The hook for the fight is the fact that these two have already fought two terrific fights against each other with Pacquiao officially holding the edge 1-0-1. However, depending on who you ask, Pacquiao, 32, has really defeated Marquez, 38, twice or on the other hand he’s yet to beat him once.

Many fans and writers were all over this fight before it was even signed. Yet, I never once had my interest peaked by the thought of it and now that it’s almost here, nothing’s changed. For a fight to be compelling before the fact, it has to involve two fighters where you can see a plausible way for each to win. And regardless of how close their previous two fights were, I don’t think that translates into the third one being super close or competitive. A lot has changed over the last three and a half years for Pacquiao and Marquez, with physics being at the top of the list.

What’s often been left out of the conversation regarding the outcome of this fight is, the first two bouts were fought at 126 and 130, this one will be contested at 144. Since they last fought back in March of 2008, Pacquiao is unbeaten and has compiled a record of 7-0 (4). Five of those victories have been over fully flowered welterweights and they weren’t even  close, Pacquiao dominated. Since losing a split decision to Pacquiao in 2008, Marquez is 5-1 (4). So you’d figure on the surface neither boxer should hold a significant advantage over the other this time. But you’d be wrong. The only fight that really gives us any indicator where Marquez is right now and how he matches up with Pacquiao is his bout with Floyd Mayweather two years ago. And that stands out for two reasons: 1) it’s the only bout in which Marquez has ever fought weighing more than 140 pounds (142) and 2) he was totally taken apart by Mayweather and was never in the fight.

For 12 rounds Marquez looked like a boy trying to overpower a man. Even when he did manage to get through and land on Mayweather, Floyd never changed his expression or blinked. Mayweather’s size and physical strength advantage totally shut down Marquez’s terrific fundamentals and basics. Due to the simple fact Marquez wasn’t nearly strong enough to implement or apply his wealth of experience, he resembled a church mouse being toyed with by a house cat. And luckily for Marquez, Mayweather is risk averse because it sure looked as if Mayweather could’ve stopped Marquez if he wanted to.

And that’s why I think Pacquiao-Marquez III is a hard sell. Forget about who you think would win between Pacquiao and Mayweather if they ever fight. What we do know is Pacquiao punches harder than Mayweather with both hands, he throws more punches, appears to take a better punch and looks to attack. In addition to that, we know inside Manny wants to beat Marquez not just conclusively this time, but also in a much more spectacular and memorable fashion than Mayweather did. It’s all about style points for Pacquiao and Mayweather. It’s sort of like college football before they fight. Both (2) Alabama and (1) LSU beat Florida on back to back weekends, so the natural thing to do before this past Saturday night’s game between them was to draw comparisons against Florida. And since the scores on both games were almost identical (Alabama 38-10 & LSU 41-11), the debate as to who was better LSU or Alabama took off before the game.

Well, that’s some of what will be on Pacquiao’s mind going into the upcoming fight with Marquez. With the thought being if I can’t get Mayweather in the ring, I want to beat him in the eyes of the fans or should I say pollsters. Granted, since their last fight Pacquiao has become a little less reckless and more conventional, something that Marquez’ trainer Nacho Beristain says will aide his fighter this time. Obviously it’s easier to fight someone who’s a little more predictable than one who’s all over the place and unorthodox. But how does that change the fact that it’s hard to envision Marquez hurting Pacquiao at 144? Another thing Beristain (who I think is the best trainer in boxing) said is, his fighter will be better served because Pacquiao likes to fight and mix it up as opposed to Mayweather who fights more defensively.

I guess in the main that’s true, but Mayweather wasn’t defensive against Marquez and took his liberties with him during the fight. And luckily for Marquez, Mayweather didn’t take more because he may have been stopped. Again, I don’t see how Pacquiao’s willingness to rumble is an advantage for Marquez. In fact I think it’s the opposite. The fact that Manny will really try and impose himself physically over Marquez is the reason why I don’t give Juan much of a chance to come out on top. As great as Marquez is as a counter-puncher and at setting traps, once Pacquiao starts opening up and carrying the fight, what can Marquez do other than fight for his life and try to hold him off?

When all is said and done, Pacquiao has a monumental advantage fighting Marquez at 144. So much so that it really makes it hard to foresee anything but a one sided beatdown starting somewhere by the midpoint of the fight. And those style points Manny’s fighting for will be a factor in him not showing Marquez any mercy the way Mayweather did. On paper, Pacquiao-Marquez III looks like a dream fight, but the scale will ruin the dream.

At this stage of the game Pacquiao is too big and strong for Marquez. Pacquiao-Marquez III is a hard sell because it’s nearly impossible to build a case for Marquez winning. The only glimmer of hope for Marquez is if Manny has taken his training too lightly or been too distracted elsewhere. But that’s not his MO, is it?

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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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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