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Fights We'd Like To See

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AlvarezLopez Hogan 6Hochberger has some nice ideas for next for Canelo. Readers, please put on your matchmaker caps, and toss in some matches you'd like to see in the near future. (Hogan)

I have a dream… that some no-brainer boxing matches get made. The below fights would either sort out who’s the man to beat at various weight classes or provide fireworks for fight fans around the globe. See below for fights I’d like to see because… wait for it… they make sense.

Victor Ortiz-Amir Khan: This is a classic crossroads fight as both guys would absolutely need a win to continue drawing major network fights/title shots. The winner would remain relevant to his weight class, and the loser would have to reconsider his career. Neither guy wants to be a gatekeeper. On top of the logical sense this fight makes, it would be an instant fight-of-the-year candidate. Both fighters were blessed with explosive offensive tools that other championship-caliber fighters may only dream of. However, they both have an aura of vulnerability that would make this even more interesting. This would absolutely be a firefight, and I’d love to see who the last man standing would be, because one of these guys would get knocked out. As Michael Woods once pointed out to me, the most salient part might well be that they’re both with Golden Boy. Serve it up, Oscar.

Canelo-Carlos Molina: In short, the poor guy deserves it. All Carlos Molina has done over the past few years is beat the top fighters in his weight class. He’s certainly not the most exciting fighter out there, but he poses a real threat to Canelo based on his experience, toughness, and style. Beating Molina gives Canelo’s resume significantly more credibility than any previous opponent. Plus, Miguel Cotto is tied up with Austin Trout (which I just don’t get).

Sidebar: For all of those complaining about Canelo’s choice to fight Josesito Lopez in a clear mismatch need to back off the kid. He originally was set to face Paul Williams (as tough an opponent out there based on skills/style), and then agreed to fight the massively powerful James Kirkland who is a big fella. It’s not Canelo’s fault that those didn’t work out.

Sergio Martinez-Canelo Alvarez: Why the hell not? Sergio can absolutely make 154 lbs, so weight is not an issue. Assuming Sergio’s injuries from the Chavez, Jr fight are not too serious, I would love to see him fight Canelo. Frankly, I would expect a more competitive version of the Chavez fight. Martinez would dominate in spurts with movement, accuracy, combinations, and strategy, but Canelo is a more tactful boxer than Chavez. Canelo would definitely land more than Chavez did, and he’d have the sense to actually cut the ring off from Martinez. Perhaps most importantly, Canelo is faster than Chavez. Let’s get it on and see what Canelo’s really made of!

Sergio- GGG: I’ve already stated my case for this fight. Gennady Golovkin exploded on the HBO scene with his dominant stoppage a few weeks back, and in my opinion, he’s the most dangerous opponent out there for Martinez. His power is for real. But what’s most important about GGG as far as being a threat is his experience and ring acumen. Whereas Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. tried to walk Martinez down, GGG would box with him. GGG has crippling power, sure, but his stellar amateur background and professional career have allowed him to learn how to use that power extremely effectively. I cannot name another fighter that makes a more compelling matchup with the Champ.

Robert Guerrero-Timothy Bradley: You just have to know this fight won’t come off. Not so much because it’s Top Rank and Golden Boy, but moreso because it makes so much sense. I’ve never fully bought into Robert Guerrero as a truly elite fighter (major titleholder in a loaded division), but beating Bradley would definitely convince me that he’s at least right on the cusp. Tim Bradley needs a win against a top contender (which Guerrero undoubtedly is) to remain at the top of the list for big fights in this division, and this would be perfect proving ground for both fighters. Bradley would be favored, and I’d pick him to win, for the record.

Leo Santa Cruz-ANYONE: I’m so in on this guy. How can you not love an immense volume puncher who throws with bad intentions and attacks the body? Well, I guess if you’re not a boxing fan. Hopefully he gets some meaningful fights in a suddenly loaded division. Would love to see him get the Mares-Moreno winner.

Broner-Gamboa: I’ve called for this one in the past, and I want to call for it again. I don’t think weights would be a sticking point (assuming Broner can still make 135), and this would be a defining fight for both fighters. If Broner can make it look easy against a fighter with the offensive prowess of Yuriorkis Gamboa (even though he also has some defensive woes), then we know he’s the real deal.vThis would set Broner up for a run of significant fights from 135-147 lbs over the next few years (Danny Garcia seems like the most logical follow-up fight if Broner gets past DeMarco/Gamboa)

GuillermoRigondeaux-Nonito Donaire: Despite being little guys, these are two of the finest P4P guys we have for exactly opposite reasons (technical brilliance for the former, explosive power for the latter). It’s always great to see explosive offensive athletes (like Donaire) fight calculated ring generals with outstanding technical wits like Rigo. The wildcard in this fight would be Rigo’s power. He’s not just a great technical boxer, but he can really punch, too. This would be a great lesson in the sweet science.

Paulie Malignaggi- Kell Brook. This fight would also answer some serious questions. I absolutely love Paulie Malignaggi’s game. He talks a lot, but he typically backs it up in the ring. He’s got a ton of heart, and when he’s going right, he’s a tough out for any fighter. That said, I think he’s in the upper-echelon of gatekeeper status at this point in his career. While typical gatekeepers don’t hold title belts, I don’t think anyone would pick Malignaggi to beat the elite fighters of his division. Kell Brook is in need of a fight against a real American gatekeeper if he has plans on being relevant in the US. Malignaggi is just what the doctor ordered.

Marcos Maidana-Lucas Matthyse: Duh. If Maidana can’t make 140 anymore (which I doubt), find a catchweight. These are two of the heaviest hitters we have in the entire sport pound-for-pound, and they are never in dull fights. I would pay PPV prices just to watch these two fight. Someone is getting knocked out, and it’s going to be highlight-reel material. And there’s gravy on top: they’re both Argentinian. Let them fight in Argentina (possibly on a card headlined by Sergio Martinez) so the nationalistic fervor plays a role. What are we waiting for? Both fighters are on the verge of major title shots. I will say that Maidana has gotten much better under Robert Garcia. But once he gets into an exchange, his instincts take over. I just start salivating at the idea of their first true exchange. Matthyse’s straight right probably gets their first and ends the fight early.

Danny Garcia-Tim Bradley: What I really would like to see is Danny Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Marquez. But since that ain’t happening, Timothy Bradley is the next best choice. I’d guess Bradley can still make 140, so weight shouldn’t play a major factor. I think their styles would actually make for a very fan-friendly fight, and a win for either would cement their status atop their respective weight classes. Why Danny Garcia is fighting Erik Morales again is mind-boggling to me. It’s a lose-lose situation. He gains nothing by beating him a second time (other than some deserved criticism for taking the fight), and he loses everything by losing to El Terible. Makes even less sense than Cotto-Trout since Cotto has little to prove at this point.

Edwin Rodriguez-Kelly Pavlik: Edwin is ready for a major step up. I’ve seen him fight inside with great power and effectiveness, and I’ve seen him fight on the outside with great accuracy, jabs, and ring generalship. What I haven’t seen him do is fight a top-10 fighter at any weight class. Kelly Pavlik is also ready for a meaningful fight. He’s yet to face someone (since his comeback began) of any significance. A win against Rodriguez would validate a matchup against Andre Ward or Chad Dawson. Similarly, a win over Pavlik would catapult Rodriguez into the top tier of 168-175 lb fighters where there are plenty of marquee matchups and big paydays (Bute, Froch, Ward, Kessler, etc.). You could say it’s a crossroads fight where the winner is thrust into the big time, and the loser is relegated to gatekeeper/contender status for the foreseeable future.

Andre Ward- ???: Is there really anyone who can give this guy a run for his money? I don’t know the name. Could Floyd make his legacy in tact as he has alluded to by stepping up? This would be the final stamp on an illustrious career if Floyd would go up in weight (by a lot) to fight another guy who can reasonably be considered the best fighter on the planet (who happens to be in his prime). A win against Ward would be way bigger (literally) and more impressive than a win against Manny Pacquaio.

The lack of solid opponents is less indicative of crap opposition (like Roy Jones’ remarkable career) and more about his dominance. Carl Froch’s a world class fighter and seeing their rematch is of no interest due to Ward’s utter domination in the first encounter. Sergio Martinez is too small (and frankly would get beaten badly in my opinion), but maybe Pavlik? Even Pavlik has only a puncher’s chance to beat Ward. I simply don’t know how you beat that guy, and I certainly don’t know anyone built to do it. Another option is Golovkin just due to his explosive power… but even that may be a stretch.

I am pleased to see sensible fights being made to sort through contenders recently (such as Lara-Matirosyan, Berto-Bradley, etc.), but I don’t fully understand what’s holding up some of the above. Perhaps HBO or Showtime has the cahones to open up fan voting through twitter as to who the fans want to see fight next, but I’d say that’s a dream.

Readers—What fights do you want to see?

Let me know @Blakehoc

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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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