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Juan Manuel Marquez Deserves Fourth Fight, But Mayweather Next Makes Sense

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LAS VEGAS –  Bob Arum barely survived what took place inside the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night. So, too, did Manny Pacquiao. That both did was a reflection on the security staff at the MGM and the presence of three ringside judges who will never be nominated for the Supreme Court.

After Glenn Trowbridge and Dave Moretti concluded Pacquiao had defeated his arch nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Robert Hoyle saw it as no better than a second draw in three meetings between them, the sold out crowd of 16,383 began to boo lustily, reaching a crescendo that drowned out Pacquiao’s post-fight words until he finally left the ring with a sad look of embarrassment on on his face.

By then the nearly 80-year-old Arum had scurried away to the post-fight press conference but not without the crowd taking out their mounting frustration on the man who controls Pacquiao’s career and had already begun talking about making a fourth fight between the two next May.

“That’s the first time something like that ever happened to me,’’ Arum said after the majority decision was announced. “All the Mexican fans were booing me. They were yelling, ‘You stole the fight! You stole the fight!’ as if I had something to do with it. You can laugh but they wanted to lynch me. I have to go back to Mexico to promote fights.’’

If he wants to make a fourth fight between them, Arum may have to take it to Mexico to convince the frustrated Marquez to go through another eight to 10 weeks of the arduous training he endures to prepare himself for Pacquiao after now having lost a disputed split decision, a disputed draw and now a highly disputed majority decision.

“If the fighters are willing, the promoter is willing,’’ Arum said. “Not only was this fight not definite, very few rounds were definitive.’’

That depends on who you asked. For the majority of the packed house at the MGM they were quite definitive and many ringside observers felt the same way, the majority leaning toward Marquez by anywhere from a slight margin to the same 8-4 split Trowbridge had it but in the opposite direction.

Even Pacquiao’s most loyal liege, trainer Freddie Roach, admitted he had no idea who won the fight when it ended and though he would be just as happy never to see his fighter in the ring with Marquez again, he feels he has little choice in the matter now.

“It was a competitive fight,’’ Roach said. “It could have gone either way. It’s the kind of fight I don’t want to do again but we have to. This one might have been the closest (of the three). If we didn’t win the last round it might have been a draw or gone the other way.

“S–t. He’s given us problems three times. I do think he deserves a rematch. Yes, I do.’’

Whether Marquez wants it might be the larger issue. Though speaking more from competitive disappointment than rational business sense shortly after his defeat, Marquez said he would go home and talk seriously with his family about retirement for the first time.

“Honestly, it is the result of this fight that make me think of retiring,’’ Marquez (52-6-1, 39 KO) said. “I prepared so hard. I just wanted the judges to score the fight the way it is happening.
“I really believe I have to drop him to win but if I do they will pick him back up and give him the fight. I’m frustrated right now. Very frustrated.’’

Arum was dismissive of Marquez’s talk of retirement, insisting probably quite rightly that those were more the words of immediate disappointment than a rational discourse on his future.  What did not seem rational was Pacquiao’s later claim that “It was close but it was very clear I won. It’s part of the game.’’

Certainly disputed decisions have long been a part of boxing but three of them against the same guy seems more than a bit unlikely, just as unlikely as Marquez sticking to his retirement plan after his expected $9 million in guarantees and pay-per-view upside roll in.

While he may have three reasons to consider stepping away from boxing, Juan Manuel Marquez will end up with millions of reasons to press on if an immediate rematch for the WBO welterweight title is ordered at the same catch weight of 144 pounds that applied in this fight.

If that happens, it will assure that the fight boxing fans most want to see – a showdown between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a younger, faster and more defensively skilled version of the 38-year-old Marquez – will be delayed to at best next November. Although Marquez’s performance Saturday night certainly earned him the right to another shot at Pacquiao, the fact of that seems to make it more unlikely the 34-year-old Mayweather and soon to be 33-year-old Pacquiao will ever give boxing what it wants most.

If they don’t, blame it on Juan Manuel Marquez’s skills and three pencil-wielding judges’ failing eyesight.

PS: Then comes word that Team Mayweather seemingly really and truly wants Pacquiao on May 5. But Arum is not inclined to pursue that fight next for Manny. If true, I would say this is the typical business of boxing. Certainly Juan Manuel Marquez has earned the right at another shot at Manny Pacquiao but how does it benefit the SPORT to make such an announcement? It does not. So what’s the point? It would be to inflame the situation and make it even more difficult to make THE fight because what was apparent Saturday night and each time Manny fights Marquez is that Mayweather will pose a very difficult challenge for him. A challenge Bob Arum may not be up to.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

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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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