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Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto Face Off

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Mayweather-Cotto-Poster“One of the greatest pure boxers who ever lived” will meet “one of the best fighters of this era” on May 5. That is how HBO's Max Kellerman described the showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto on the Tuesday night debut of his Face Off program.

Kellerman brought the 35 year-old Mayweather and the 31 year-old Cotto, two of the sport's top five draws, into a studio and had them sit across from each other, while he queried them about their take on the May 5 clash.

Kellerman's first launch went to Cotto. “How do you beat Mayweather?” he asked.

“We're going to figure it out in training camp,” the Puerto Rican future Hall of Famer said, while Mayweather fixed his eyes on the 37-2 boxer, who last gloved up in December, when he stopped Antonio Margarito in NY.

He will be the first man to beat Mayweather, he said. This made me think about talking to Cotto when the duo made it to to NY for their press tour. I asked him about the matchup, and he said something along the lines of that he would do the best he could. I pressed him: Will you do the best you can, or will you definitely beat Mayweather?

“I guarantee a win,” Cotto told me. I tend to put a lot of stock in how a fighter speaks before the bout; does he talk about doing the best he can, giving a great effort, which is what we hear quite often when a boxer is in over his head…or does he evince true confidence that he will have his hand raised?

Remember when Juan Manuel Marquez underwhelmed with his conviction before he took on Mayweather in 2009? “It's going to be a very difficult fight,” Marquez said. “It's a very hard fight, but mentally I'm preparing myself to win and I feel I can beat Mayweather.”

Many times before Shane Mosley fought Floyd Mayweather, he said stuff like, “It's going to be a great fight,” and “Every fight has its own significance, but this would be a great win. It would definitely be a feather in my cap if I beat Floyd Mayweather.” Not it “will be a great win” but “it would be.”

I seek true conviction in the voice and mannerisms of fighters leading up to a fight in which they are seen as underdogs, so during “Face Off” I was on the lookout for Cotto's level of belief in self.

Mayweather said he didn't know how Cotto will fight him. “I don't know,” the 42-0 sweet scientist said. “But he must know that I'm not like no other fighter. I can give it and I can take it.”

No shortage of belief in self there, eh?

Mayweather said he considers Cotto unbeaten, because he thinks Antonio Margarito cheated against Cotto in their 2008 fight, and that Cotto was drained at a catchweight against Manny Pacquiao in 2009. Floyd disarmed Cotto a bit by pointing out his good taste in watches, as he was wearing a piece by Cartier. Cotto grinned, and Kellerman then brought up the “Money” persona. The boxer-entertainer said when he's out and about he likes to entertain the people, but at home, he acts like a normal person. Floyd then asked to check on the score of a game he bet, featuring “Ohio (State against Northwestern, in basketball, on Feb. 29) in the first half,” for which he laid down $100,000, he said. (Ohio State led 39-29 at the half, by more than the four points Floyd gave the house, giving Floyd the W.)

Cotto said Floyd can act however he wants to, and gamble if he wants to.

Cotto said inexperience killed Victor Ortiz against Mayweather and that he thinks Floyd is still in his prime. Can he out-box the master craftsman, or will he need to rumble and brawl his way to a win? He will need to use all his skills to beat Floyd, he said, as Mayweather asked for a phone so he could check a game he bet on.

“Gotta watch my money,” he explained. (Not sure if this is pure persona, or an indication that Mayweather is a problem gambler, who is too focused on his bets.)

He explained how the bet worked to Cotto, and said, “So (if I win) I walk away with $86,000 today,” he said, as Cotto's eyes grew bit wider. “If he lived in Vegas, he'd do the same thing,” Mayweather said. Is it dangerous to live in Vegas, the host asked. “No, not at all,” Mayweather said. (I guess there are people who exist who end up ahead of the house when all is said and done, but the odds aren't in Floyd's favor…we shall see down the line if the gambling bug bites him, or he is master of that domain.)

The Margarito subject came up, and Floyd asked Cotto point blank if he thinks Margarito used loaded gloves when they fought in 2008. “I don't know,” Cotto said, but allowed that his face was busted up more than he might've expected. Floyd concurred. Mayweather said he thinks if he did what Margarito did, he would be banished forever from boxing. “Should he have been banned for life? Absolutely,” Mayweather said.

Cotto said the Mayweather fight, not his revenge tussle with Margarito, is the biggest fight of his career. He said he won't do anything different or special to prepare for Mayweather.

Mayweather was asked why Cotto is the third biggest PPV star, behind him and Pacquiao. Why? Because he earned it the hard way, not by getting a catch-weight advantage. He said Pacquiao piggybacked on his popularity but said he wasn't bothered by Manny calling him a chicken, saying he is ducking him. “I'm OK with my legacy, with or without Pacquiao,” he said. “Floyd Mayweather is happy with what he's done in the sport.”

Cotto said it doesn't bother him that people fixate on Mayweather-Pacquiao. Mayweather, asked if it is hard to work up anger towards Cotto, said, “He's a quiet killer.” Asked for a prediction, he said, “Tune in. I can't say what's going to happen. May 5 you got the super welterweight champion versus the pay per view king. May 5th, blockbuster.”

Cotto in closing, said, “I'm going to be prepared enough for Floyd, and I'm going to work really hard.” Not what I want to hear. My gut tells me that Cotto, a reasonable man who has never trafficked in illusion when I have talked to him, knows that Mayweather is on a different level than him, and deep down thinks that he cannot win on May 5. He's right. Nobody beats Floyd right now, not unless Mayweather goes up to 160. Then, we can talk…

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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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