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Hopkins Considers Retirement, While Mitchell Edges Up

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HopkinsDawson Hogan7ATLANTIC CITY — The signs were there for anyone who took the time to notice the deeper meaning of what actually transpired in Boardwalk Hall Saturday night. Change again is in the wind for Golden Boy Promotions, with another iconic figure possibly leaving just as a hot new growth property, flawed but exciting, announced himself to the boxing world.

Thus has it ever been so, and probably always will be as long as fighters fight, fans watch, promoters promote and business deals are cut that affect all of the various principals.

Oh, sure, the most obvious beneficiary of a doubleheader televised by HBO World Championship Boxing was former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs), who again rose to the top of everyone’s 175-pound ratings by wresting the WBC and The Ring championships from the 47-year-old icon, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs), who had held them. By defeating Hopkins via majority decision and possibly sending him into retirement, Dawson at least partially restored the damage done to his laid-back image when he lost to WBC title to Jean Pascal, who in turn surrendered it to B-Hop.

A long, lean southpaw from New Haven, Conn., Dawson, 29, might not be as loquacious as Hopkins or have as extensive a resume, but he reestablished himself as the top guy in the division, at least until further notice. Feel free to get tingly, or not, about his improved circumstances.

Asked if Dawson’s victory – he came out on top by 117-111 on the scorecards submitted by judges Richard Flaherty and Steve Weisfeld, but did no better than a 114-114 standoff on judge Luis Rivera’s card – had earned him enough fans to finally gain the superstar status he never quite has achieved, “Bad” Chad’s promoter, Gary Shaw, acknowledged that has yet to be determined.

“I can’t speak to that,” Shaw said in response to a question about whether his guy’s popularity had just gotten a major spike. “Look, Pernell Whitaker had tons of fans. But in today’s day and age, I don’t know if Pernell Whitaker could even get on TV. That doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate his skills. I think Chad Dawson is a very talented fighter. I do believe he picked up some fans tonight, and he’ll pick up more as he moves forward.”

Added Dawson, whose voice seldom betrays emotion: “I’ll fight anybody at 168 or 175. I would prefer not to come out of my comfort zone, which is 175, but I can make 168. I’m just looking for some big fights.”

Possibly the biggest moneymaking opportunity for Dawson now is against WBC/WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward, winner of the Super Six tournament that concluded in December 2011 and earned Ward Fighter of the Year honors from the Boxing Writers Association of America, The Ring and ESPN.com, among others. It’s not Mayweather-Pacquiao, but what is? Fight fans are used to accepting consolation prizes when the big jackpot proves unavailable, as is often the case.

It is reflective of how boxing works that Dawson, even at the moment of his professional redemption, finds himself a less compelling story than the possible end of the Bernard Hopkins saga, not to mention the beginning of a groundswell to anoint former Michigan State linebacker Seth Mitchell as the heavyweight hope America has been desperately searching for since Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe got old and faded away.

Golden Boy Promotions handles the careers of Hopkins and Mitchell, and the outcomes of their respective bouts – Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs), after a shaky first round, hammered fringe contender Chazz “The Gentleman” Witherspoon (30-3, 22 KOs) thereafter to win via third-round stoppage – recalled other nights when one fighter took a long step toward stardom and a more-established stablemate was nudged toward the exit.

“The Klitschkos are willing to face the very best,” Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said of the heavily muscled Mitchell, whose star appears to be in ascendance. “They have their eye on Seth Mitchell.

“We have a plan for Seth Mitchell. We have discussed future opponents. I’ll sit down with Eric Gomez (Golden Boy matchmaker) with Richard (Schaefer, CEO). I’ve thrown out a couple of names of guys we really like. One is Michael Grant, who’s 6’7” or 6’8” and is a big, solid heavyweight.”

Neither De La Hoya nor Schaefer mentioned whether they still have a plan for Hopkins, whose marketability might now be such that the seven-figure purses and pay-per-view dates have finally shriveled up. Schaefer had mentioned the possibility of a unification fight for Hopkins against WBO light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly somewhere in the United Kingdom, but that likelihood probably has vanished now that B-Hop, history-maker that he is, no longer has those championship belts to use as bait. The reality could be that Hopkins no longer is the superstar he once was, but is still probably too dangerous for top fighters to consider.

Hopkins himself doesn’t appear certain of which side of the fence he’ll end up on. “If my swan song was sung tonight, I’ll say it was great, it was fun,” he said. “But I got to look at the whole landscape. I’ll talk to Oscar and to Richard, and then I’ll decide what I want to do. It all depends on the motivation. If the motivation is (IBF super middleweight champ Lucian) Bute or something significant, I’d have to consider that.”

When Hopkins joined Golden Boy in the autumn of 1994, shortly after he knocked out De La Hoya in the ninth round of their middleweight championship bout, he was named president of Golden Boy East, a subsidiary of Golden Boy Promotions. He liked the role of promoter, and in short order GBE had signed such fighters as Rock Allen, Karl Dargan and Demetrius Hopkins, B-Hop’s nephew. Monthly shows were staged at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

But Golden Boy East is now an empty vessel, or very nearly so. Rock Allen might never fight again after being involved in a serious automobile accident, and Demetrius Hopkins, who had a falling out with his uncle, is retired. Even newly crowned WBC junior welterweight champ Danny “Swift” Garcia, a Golden Boy fighter and one of Bernard Hopkins’ Philadelphia homeboys, has fought mostly out West and under the auspices of Golden Boy proper, not GBE.

So can Hopkins be expected to retain his executive position with the company if he decides he no longer is an active fighter? Other high-profile boxers who had similar positions with Golden Boy, Shane Mosley and Marco Antonio Barrera, have left, which suggests those functions were more figurehead than functional.

Should Hopkins be downgraded as one of Golden Boy’s primary assets, the result of advancing age, a low knockout rate and diminishing appeal to his fan base, it makes sense that someone else will have to step to the fore. That person could be Mitchell, who has transferred his dreams of an NFL career to a new vision, of becoming heavyweight champion.

Mitchell is raw, still very much an unfinished product, but he showed heart and resolve, not to mention major power, in overcoming a very shaky first round against Witherspoon. “He hit me hard with the right hand,” Mitchell said of the first-round hole in which he found himself. “It was an equilibrium shot. I did the stinky leg a little bit, but I was able to recover.

“I knew that Chazz could box, but I also knew that if he got into a firefight, he’d be open for a lot of shots. When I went back to my corner (after the second round), I was confident I’d finish him in the next round. I could see in his eyes that my power was really affecting him.”

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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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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