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Boxing Year 2012 in Review; Plus, Marquez Wins Boxer of the Year

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Boxing Year 2012

Boxing Year 2012 – Some things changed, many stayed the same, but this year in boxing 2012 delivered enough of the unexpected, and enthralling, and inspirational, and infuriating, and poignant to keep us addicted into the new year and beyond. January 2012 kicked off in a hopeful vein–makes sense, with that being the time for resolutions, right?–as Floyd Mayweather took to Twitter and raised a flutter of optimism in our foolish hearts that The Fight would be made when he wrote, “Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see…My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk.” Like most of those resolutions, the walk didn’t match the talk, however. Floyd phoned Manny, they chatted, some numbers were discussed and we ended up where we were. Nowheresville.

But just because that train was stuck in the mud it doesn’t mean the sport didn’t keep on chugging. Main Events got boxing’s toe back in the broadcast pool with their first installment of the series which debuted on the NBC cable channel. We were introduced to heavyweight Bryant Jennings, the 28-year-old Philly fighter who made a serious case for himself as Newcomer of the Year 2012, with wins over Maurice Byarm, Sergei Liakhovich, Steve Collins, Chris Koval, and Bowie Tupou. Could he be the Klitschko Killer, the one to end the reign of superiority enjoyed by Vitali and Wladimir? We resolve to keep watching…

The last Saturday of the first month of the year gave us a dose of that theater of the unexpected, “only in boxing” flavor we crave and appreciate from the savage science, as Team Snooki Boxing did their first show, in Atlantic City. No, Snooki didn’t glove up herself. “I’m not messing up this pretty face,” she said. “Helping out my dad is No. 1. Me and my dad are like best friends. I’m a daddy’s girl.” Plenty of room in the pool, we always say. Boxing’s low barrier to entry is one of the best and worst things about it. We don’t see Snooki  trying on a promotional hat as a sign of the apocalypse, we see it as business as usual in the “you can’t make this stuff up” world of the fight racket.

We also lost Goody Petronelli, who helped teach Marvin Hagler what nature hadn’t about the art of the game. He was a guy you dind’t hear a bad story about.

Nonito Donaire kicked off his damned fine year with a decision win over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., claiming a junior feather crown and earning the first of four Ws. This scrap was notable for another reason; we were chagrined to add another name to our Bad Judges (Black)List, as we just weren’t able to ponder how Ruben Garcia, presumably not having been dosed with psilocybin by some merry prankster pre-fight, saw Vazquez a 115-112 winner. But as any long suffering fight fan, we saw the bright light, and said, At least they gave it to the right guy…

Mid-month, Vitali Klitschko made Dereck Chisora pay for slapping him at the weigh-in, taking a unanimous decision from the combustible Brit. The bout was screened in the US by EPIX, the pay cabler which did well this year for itself (and fight fans) by nimbly snagging fights that didn’t fit into HBO or Showtime’s plans. Buffoon David Haye then showed up at the post-fight presser and got into it with Chisora. He smashed Chisora with a beer bottle and then scurried away, as cops took a hard look at the incident. The sport has a way of letting the idiotic acts and chicanery overshadow the herculean in-the-ring displays of will and skill sometimes, yes, but we as a people are always intrigued by the wrecks on the freeway, and boxing, over all the other sports, offers those with regularity.

Ugh. We’d settle for a bronze age, let alone a golden age, we found ourselves saying as we watched Jean Marc Mormeck engage in a pickup-the-paycheck exercise against Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany on March 3, 2012. Wlad, with the esteemed and beloved Emanuel Steward in his corner, who had as always cautioned against overconfidence in the leadup to the faceoff, exited with a KO4 victory, and Mormeck with a diminished rep.

Erik Morales’ legacy lost a tiny bit of luster (and more of the shine would be smudged later in the year) when he couldn’t make weight and lost his junior welter belt on the scales the day before his bout with Danny Garcia in Houston. “It wasn’t worth the sacrifice at this point for the last couple of pounds,” the Mexican told Dan Rafael. “It would hurt me. No point.” Besides behaving like a professional, yeah, I guess no point…Garcia, age 24, beat the 35-year-old Morales via UD the next night, and Morales admitted age caught up with him. That wouldn’t stop him from pursuing a rematch with the fresh face from Philly. Stubbornness, a good thing on the way up. Not so much in the late innings of a fight life…

The sport lost a good one, in raconteur, author and talking head, Bert Sugar, on March 25. He’d been dealing with lung cancer. Known for his Fedora, omni-present stogie and fondness for amber liquids, along with a near-endless well of tales tall and otherwise, he had been hopeful back in December. “I’ve learned that getting older means you get aches in places never knew you had,” he told me. “I had radiation, chemotherapy, chemo-sabe. The cancer is in remission. It’s over, I’ve won. I’m back, by unpopular demand. I’m coming along. Half the people are rooting for me to recover, half are not. I’ve been an editor, lawyer, adman, writer, announcer. I’ve gotten away with things. This has been fun but maybe I’m paying for it. Somewhere, some way, somehow, it’s going to come back and revisit you. But I don’t regret a step.” Sugar was 74.

We all began to seriously ponder the day when we wouldn’t have Bernard Hopkins to marvel at, and to make us feel so hopelessly inadequate as physical specimens. On April 28, Hopkins lost a majority decision to Chad Dawson in Atlantic City. The stubborn 47 year-old railed against the decision and maybe the sands of time after the verdict: “What did he do to win that fight? They [the judges] did what they wanted to do. The only way I knew I would win is if I knocked him out. Let the public judge for themselves.” That they did, asking not to see these two do it again, but not for the exit of B-Hop who almost all agreed deserves to go out on his own terms and time frame.

In April, Bob Arum told us he’d like to make a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in 2013, and we held out some hope, but by the end of the year, that was dashed. This being boxing, though, we know it is never wise to hold a funeral until the bodies are cold. And until Floyd and Manny are well into their 50s, one just never knows.

Floyd Mayweather proved his mastery of the medium again when he took to Twitter to savage HBO’s third episode of the Mayweather-Cotto 24/7 docu-mercial series. “I want to apologize to all my fans and viewers who watched 24/7 last night,” Mayweather Tweeted after the show. “I wasn’t pleased with this weeks episode of 24/7. Me and my film team are providing Bentley Weiner with exciting content which she is not using. We really needed the producers from Mayweather-Hatton 24/7 to come back to HBO give the fans and viewers more excitement.” No fighter knows what we keyboard tappers will latch on to, and perseverate on, than Money. He proved it time and again this year.

Floyd Mayweather had to be a juggler in 2012, as he battled Johnny Law in addition to in-the-ring foe Miguel Cotto, on May 5. Money got a stiffer test from Cotto than many expected, but he still left Vegas with that all-important 0 tucked under his belt. Floyd didn’t let the looming gloom of a prison stint in Nevada for a domestic altercation yank him off the rails; by scores of 117-111, 117-111, 118-110, he upped his record to 43-0. Those waiting for a scrap after the scrap, a rumble between Mayweather and foe Larry Merchant, were left high and dry. The HBO analyst told the world that Floyd had apologized to him, and so they chatted amiably post-fight. Some pundits thought they saw decay in Mayweather, others didn’t, but some facial nicks and bloody nose had most of us thinking that Floyd’s money wasn’t going to buy immunity from the most intractable of foes–the calendar. He turned 35 in February.

Ex HBO head Seth Abraham told us he thought the chance of Floyd gloving up with Manny was “zero” and that stance looked that much sharper by the end of the year.

The game plunged into the rabbit hole of PEDs in early May, when Lamont Peterson, who was to meet Amir Khan in a rematch on May 19 in Vegas, tested positive for excess testosterone. This development reached Morrisette-level irony, as it was Peterson who had demanded extra-stringent testing for the bout. Team Peterson protested that a doc prescribed testosterone to the boxer because he suffered from a low level. Furrow brows from cynics (realists?) resulted. Ten days before the scheduled bout, the plug was pulled. Promoter Golden Boy would soon go through another PED-fueled main event-demolition, and Victor Conte’s Twitter followers would start jumping through the roof.

Manny Pacquiao pulled a Mayweather, and stepped in it, in mid May. The Congressman gave an interview to a pro-am writer, who had a Bible-pushing agenda. The writer asked Manny how he felt about gay marriage and the born-again hitter gave it a heavy thumbs down. A charged passage from Leviticus was cited, and Pacquiao had to explain that he didn’t recite that to the writer. The boxer came out–LOL–and explained he didn’t hate gays, and didn’t see an erosion of his fanbase. His skills, that was another matter entirely, some said.

Another name pugilist got caught in the rabbit hole, when Andre Berto’s urine raised a red flag. On May 18, word came out that the Floridian used the banned steroid norandrestone ahead of his June 23 rematch with Victor Ortiz. They’d been slated to tangle Feb. 11, but Berto tore a bicep in training. Golden Boy immediately searched for a replacement and tapped Josesito Lopez to test Ortiz. Most figured Lopez would be a lower hurdle for Ortiz to leap but the kid never got the memo. Days later, Golden Boy also announced a replacement foe for Khan, post Peterson. Danny Garcia, they said, would get the gig. It was a good year for substitutes….Berto protested that his positive came as a result of his being contaminated, and said that the amount found in his sample was so minute as to indicate contamination. The cynics (realists?) wondered what supplement or tainted meat triggered the positive and when Berto would get to sleuthing, find it, get it tested to prove concretely his innocence, and share his findings with the press.

It was also a good year for the grim reaper, who worked OT collecting fight game notables. Johnny Tapia’s turbulent existence came to a halt on May 27; “Mi Vida Loca” was a tortured soul on this earth, who used the ring, and illicit substances, to divert himself from dark thoughts and memories. The five-time champ’s heart had enough, and stopped ticking in New Mexico. He was 45 years old.

The boxing career of Paul Williams came to an abrupt halt when the ex titlist had a motorcycle accident near Atlanta, Georgia on May 27. The crash left him paralyzed from the waist down, but if anything, grew his fanbase. The grace and good humor which Williams, age 31, seen in picture attending the September Canelo Alvarez-Josesito Lopez fight, displayed following the shocking scenario made all of us respect him that much more.

Floyd Mayweather kept his unbeaten record, but still took some lumps this year. He entered Clark County Detention Center in Nevada on June 1, to serve an 87-day sentence for a physical altercation with his ex galpal, and mother of his children, in 2010. He seemed relatively nonchalant about the stint going in, telling Dan Rafael: “Can’t nothing break Floyd Mayweather. Whatever hand is dealt to you in life, you’ve got to deal with it.

Shane Mosley and Winky Wright, two Hall of Famers to be, both hung up the gloves in June, though Mosley talked comeback by the end of the year. Wright, so far, hasn’t followed suit.

Well, Manny won that one, the vast majority of us thought as the judges’ scores were tallied following the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley clash June 8 in Las Vegas. Not so fast, said CJ Roth and Duane Ford, who scored it for Bradley. “I don’t think we’re blind, I think that is a terrible, bogus decision,” HBO’s Jim Lampley said. “I’m dumbfounded,” Manny Steward said. Stats backed the “Manny won” case; CompuBox had Pacquiao outlanding Bradley, 253-159, but maybe they liked Bradley’s volume. He threw 839 punches to Manny’s 751. Typical howls of fix and calls for investigations followed. Nothing came of it, of course. Bradley is still waiting for the rematch clause in his contract to kick in; his deal called for a sequel on November 10 if he won. Controversy in boxing…we’re not dumbfounded.

Jim Lampley of HBO spoke our language when on his “The Fight Game” he told fans to “occupy boxing,” and help force the change they want to see. His advice holds for the citizens of our whole nation, not just box nation….

Antonio Tarver joined Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto in the PED rabbit hole, testing positive for steroids following his June 2 draw against Lateef Kayode in California. The 43-year old went to Twitter to term the flagged specimen as a “false positive.” He was suspended for a year and stuck to his claim that he didn’t cheat.

Josesito Lopez was brought in to compete but not win, if we want to be honest about it, when he fought Victor Ortiz on June 23 in LA. Ortiz had a date to dance with Canelo Alvarez set up for September 15, so Ortiz just needed to get past the undersized welter Lopez. The memo musta got stuck in Lopez’ spam filter. He smashed Ortiz’ jaw and some accused the loser of being a quitter, citing recent history, but I held my tongue, as one who doesn’t deal all that well with a splinter in my foot.

The chin isn’t the topmost attribute you want to be an ace prizefighter…unless you don’t have a good one, in which case it looms larger on the list of necessary traits. Amir Khan has blazing handspeed and can put together an XL combo with flashy quickness and precision, but he also has a built-in betrayer, an iffy chin. Danny Garcia on July 14 tested the Khan chin, and three times, the Brit failed the test. He hit the deck three times and the fight was stopped in round four in Las Vegas. Garcia, who subbed in for PED-ensnared Lamont Peterson, snagged Khan’s WBA junior welter title. We wondered after, and continue to wonder, if Khan will make like Wladimir Klitschko, and refashion himself into a defensive wizard or if at 25 years of age, his best years were behind him.

Scale Fails occurred too often this year and one of the biggest was Adrien Broner’s in his fight with Vicente Escobedo. The Cinci superstar-to-be ruffled feathers in old-school types when he chose not to go the extra yard in paring down to 130 pounds. He was 133 1/2 at the weigh in, but rather than do sauna sessions and treadmill work, he said heck with it. The July 21 fight went on, Escobedo got some extra dough to soothe him and then he got stopped in round five. With so many weight classes, one wonders how guys are missing weights so often. This sport does leave you wondering a lot, doesn’t it?

Floyd Mayweather got sprung from Clark County Detention  Center on Aug. 3, after getting locked up June 1. About 20 family and friends, including 50 Cent and right-hand man Leonard Ellerbe, greeted Money, who sped away in a Bentley. We assessed him in the ensuing weeks, checking to see if he had been humbled, if he emerged from his stint a changed man. Nah; same Floyd. He showed off his stacks, bough his galpal pricey baubles and beefed on Twitter.

It looked like a pick ’em to many folks, but Andre Ward made those people look like prognosticatory punks, knocking down Chad Dawson three times, and stopping him in round ten of their Sept. 8 clash in Oakland. Dawson dropped down to 168 from 175 and evidently, in retrospect, that wasn’t a smooth move. He didn’t have the  energy of strength at 168 that he did at 175, and in the following weeks a bit of the luster from the Ward win was erased. Still, no pundits didn’t have the Oakland-based born again outside of the top three in their pound for pound lists after this result. Looking ahead, we now wonder if Ward isn’t  injury prone. He’ll need surgery on an injured shoulder and that will scrap a fight against Kelly Pavlik, which no one was very pumped to see anyway. He had an injured hand going in to the fight before this one, against Carl Froch, and made it worse in that bout. This is now a pattern, unfortunately; Ward injured a thumb and pulled out of an 2006 HBO Boxing After Dark bout; hurt a knee playing hoops and had to put off a fight with Enrique Ornelas in summer 2008; re-injured his knee and had to postpone an April 2010 fight with Allan Green, in that chaotic Super Six tourney; busted a finger before his Nov. 2010 fight with Sakio Bika and went into the fight hurt; suffered a cut over his right eye in September 2011 which forced postponement of the Super Six finale against Carl Froch that October; said he hurt his left hand in sparring for the Froch fight, and broke the hand in two places during the Dec. 17, 2011 bout; and injured his right shoulder in camp for a Jan. 26, 2013 fight with Pavlik. Hey, boxing is a tough sport, to state the screamingly obvious. Let us hope we aren’t deprived of the talents of Ward prematurely because his body simply isn’t built for the vicious rigors of the sport.

Sergio Martinez gave Julio Cesar “Cheech” Chavez Jr. the business for the majority of the Sept. 15 middleweight clash, tried to lure the kid in to making a mistake so he could finish him off, and got caught. Down went Martinez, but the Argentine collected his senses and fought to the final bell. He came away with a UD12 win and left us hoping that maybe 2013 would be the year he could convince Floyd Mayweather to glove up.

Brandon Rios won a Fight of the Year contender, bettering Mike Alvarado in California on Oct. 13. The rumbler Rios restored some of his rep with the gutty showing against Alvarado, who ate copious shots but protested when the ref saw enough. A rematch would make ample sense.

Danny Garcia nearly knocked Erik Morales’ head into the upper deck at the brand, spanking new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, in the first boxing card at the rival to Madison Square Garden, on Oct. 20. The Philly fighter, in front of more than 11,000 enthusiastic fight fans, didn’t know if the fight would go down, because the 36 year-old Morales ate some tainted meat, LOL, and tested positive for clenbuterol. The New York commission gave the Mexican the go ahead to fight when his third sample was clean. Once again, the sport got proof that it needs to come up with a comprehensive, united protocol on the issue of PEDs. On the brighter side, we like it when good things happen to great people, so it was sweet to see cancer-free Danny Jacobs back in the ring in Brooklyn. He is one of the top role models in all of sports, on how to handle adversity with class and toughness.

The largest, most unable-to-be-repaired hole was ripped in the sport when the universally beloved Emanuel Steward died on Oct. 25. We all hoped the Kronk sage would come out the other side when we heard he was in a hospital for a mystery ailment. Cancer, some said. Some family tried to control the news flow, and reassure us he was on the mend, but that was impossible, and sadly not the case, as Steward was the most positive soul in the sport, on everyone’s best friend list. Aretha Franklin sang at his memorial service, and so many of his champions sat in pews, thinking about how this great man left a massive legacy on this earth. We still miss him.

Floyd Mayweather and 50 Cent took the last train to Splitsville, taking to Twitter on Nov. 3 to trade blows. Fiddy lobbed the first bomb when he wrote, “GAMBOA WANTS TO FIGHT FLOYD. I will put up a extra 20 million for the winner. He don’t like it that Floyd pulled out” and “Ellerbee you a broke bum GAMBOA want to fight tell him to Floyd lace up. Lol” as well as, “GAMBOA is the truth, FLOYD no that, stop tricking and Fight.” Floyd hurled a counterpunch: “A male boxing groupie.. hold my belts because your album sales have declined” and “I respect the shooter not the one who got shot.”  A couple days later, Fiddy said the beef was manufactured. He enters 2013 as a boxing promoter and Mayweather continues as the top draw in the game. Will those designations apply at the end of the year?

He combined flashy tactics, behavior and attire as well as just about any fighter, so the fight game was sad to lose Hector “Macho” Camacho to gunfire in Puerto Rico. The 50 year-old Spanish Harlem legend set the table for the Naseem Hameds, and Adrien Broners, and other boxers who understood that a shortcut to greater acclaim can be found in the packaging of the pugilist. Camacho always had a thing for fast living, but that didn’t make his passing easier to bear. Sadly, he never reached a point where those instincts mellowed. RIP, Macho.

Ricky Hatton had to determine that there wasn’t enough left to do the job like he needed to do it, so he hopped back into the ring after 3 1/2 years away. He looked OK against Vyacheslav Senchenko, but then got caught and was stopped out in round nine. The 34 year-old hero to the masses announced after that he was done, done, done. He’d climbed back from suicidal depths and substance abuse, and proclaimed his comeback a win. All agreed.

We wondered if this was a wise style matchup for the Puerto Rican standout Miguel Cotto heading in to the Dec. 1 clash at Madison Square Garden against Austin Trout. Turns out it wasn’t; the New Mexico resident Trout boxed sharply and with smarts galore the whole twelve at MSG. A date with Canelo likely went down the tubes for Cotto, who looked like he made out with a jackhammer post-bout. Next year could be all she wrote for the Caguas resident.

Manny Pacquiao looked sharp, like old Manny, like a 25 year-old version of himself, when he met Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time in Las Vegas on Dec. 8. But an overhand right with a minute to go in round six dropped Pacquiao into la-la land, flat on his face. No mas for Manny.

JMM scored a knockdown in the third and Manny returned the favor in the fifth, when a left caused Marquez’ glove to the mat. Manny fell into the Mexican’s trap in round six, and out went the lights.  Because he got his white whale, he climbed his Everest, I am picking Marquez to win a WOODSY, as Boxer of the Year. Yep, Donaire had a great 2012, but when I think back on 2012, Marquez’ win, of such significance, done in such dramatic fashion, I will focus first on Marquez’ feat. And yes, the WOODSY for Fight of the Year goes to Marquez-Pacquiao 4. Finally, Marquez gets to enjoy his name first when the duo are referenced. Looking forward, we wonder if Pacquiao can prevail again, or will he learn conclusively in 2013 that this chapter, as an active fighter, is done?

Another hole that cannot and will not be filled; our friend Larry Merchant, the always poetic and occasionally combustible analyst for HBO, announced that after 35 years, he was walking away from the cabler’s color chair. Indeed, he did provide color, as when he and Floyd Mayweather got into it after Floyd beat Victor Ortiz. If Larry were 50 years younger, we’d get to enjoy 50 more years of his top shelf work. Thanks for the entertainment, and insight, Larry.

And thank you readers, for being so loyal to TSS. We wish you a happy new, healthy, peaceful 2013.

Boxing Year 2012

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Argentina

The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 

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Canada & Usa

In Boxing, the Last Weekend of July was Chock Full of Surprises

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

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The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated Nick Webb (12-0, 10 KOs) in the fourth round. Allen said that he intended this to be his final fight, but will now hang around awhile.

In hindsight, this was an omen. Before the show was over, upsets – albeit mild upsets – were registered in both featured bouts. Dereck Chisora, trailing on the scorecards, stopped Carlos Takam in the eighth. Dillian Whyte outpointed Joseph Parker. And later that same day, in Kissimmee, Florida, Japanese import Masayuki Ito made a big splash in his U.S. debut, beating up highly touted Christopher Diaz.

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Joseph Parker is quite the gentleman. Following his loss to Dillian Whyte, Parker was gracious in defeat: “I say congratulations to Dillian. I gave it my best. The better man won.”

In case you missed it, Whyte survived a hoary moment in the final round to win a unanimous decision. Most everyone agreed that the decision was fair but there were a few dissenters. Well known U.K. boxing pundit Steve Bunce said, “I thought Parker deserved a draw.” Bunce noted that the scribes sitting near him were in complete accord that the most lopsided score (115-110) was far too wide.

We’ve seen fighters grouse that they were robbed after fights that were far less competitive. Parker’s post-fight amiability was all the more puzzling considering that he had a legitimate beef that referee Ian John Lewis was too lax, enabling Whyte to turn the contest into a street fight.

Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry was all on board with the selection of Lewis. “He’s a very highly qualified guy who I think is the best British referee,” he said. But Barry changed his tune after the fight, saying that there were at least two occasions when Lewis should have deducted a point from Whyte.

Veteran Australian boxing writer Anthony Cocks said that going forward, Parker, a soft spoken, mild mannered man, needs to have more of a mongrel in him. Cocks noted that when Whyte transgressed, Parker’s response was to look at the ref with a bemused expression. The first time that Whyte bent the rules, opined Cocks, Parker should have hit him in the balls.

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Top Rank hasn’t had much luck with their Puerto Rican fighters lately. First there was Felix Verdejo. Hyped as the next Felix Trinidad, the 2012 Olympian was 22-0 when his career was interrupted by a motorcycle accident. He won his first fight back in Puerto Rico, but was then exposed by Tijuana’s unheralded Antonio Lozada Jr. who stopped him in the 10th round at the Theater of Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day, 2018.

More recently, Top Rank gave a big build-up to Christopher Diaz, but Diaz, the 2016 ESPN Deportes Prospect of The Year, also hit the skids after starting his pro career 23-0. Diaz was upset on Saturday by Masayuki Ito in a match sanctioned for the vacant WBO 130-pound title.

Unlike Verdejo, Diaz was still standing at the final bell, but he was taken to the cleaners by his Japanese opponent who won comfortably on the scorecards.

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Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin made his pro debut on the Diaz-Ito undercard. Nikitin won every round of a 6-round contest.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, this is the guy who defeated top seed Michael Conlan in a quarterfinal bantamweight match at the Rio Olympics. The decision, which Conlan greeted with a middle finger salute to the judges, was widely seen as a heist.

In signing new prospects, Top Rank honcho Bob Arum likes to gather up fighters who compete in the same weight class as fighters that he already controls. This sets up a scenario where he can double dip, extracting a commission from the purse of both principals.

The cluster is most pronounced in the lower weight classes. These fighters, listed alphabetically, are currently promoted or co-promoted by Top Rank: junior bantamweight Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-1), junior featherweight Michael Conlan (8-0), featherweight Christopher Diaz (23-1), super bantamweight Isaac Dogboe (19-0), super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno (25-1), super bantamweight Jean Rivera (14-0), featherweight Genesis Servania (31-1), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (7-0), bantamweight Antonio Vargas (7-0), featherweight Nicholas Walters (26-1-1).

The aforementioned Nikitin launched his pro career as a featherweight.

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In July of 2004, Danny Williams knocked out Mike Tyson in the fourth round at Louisville. Iron Mike had one more fight and then wisely called it quits. Williams had 48 more fights, the most recent coming last weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Williams was stopped in the 10th round by a local man, 35-year-old Lee McAllister, whose last documented fight had come in 2013. In that bout, McAllister, carrying 140 pounds, outpointed a Slovakian slug in a 6-round fight. During his hiatus from boxing, McAllister (that’s him in the red and white trunks), served a 9-month prison sentence for assaulting a patron while working in an Aberdeen kebab shop.

Danny Williams’ weight wasn’t announced, but in his three fights prior to fighting McAllister he came in a tad north of 270 pounds. He reportedly out-weighed McAllister by 4 stone (56 pounds), likely a loose approximation.

Williams is a product of Brixton, the hardscrabble Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in South London that also spawned Dillian Whyte. But he has no intention of going back there. After the McAllister fight, in which he was knocked down three times, he said he was retiring to Nigeria where he had a job waiting for him as a bodyguard.

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The ink was barely dry on the weekend’s events when news arrived that Tyson Fury was close to signing for a December bout with WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. On social media, Fury said the deal was almost done and Fury’s promoter Frank Warren confirmed it while saying that it was conditional on Fury looking good when he opposes Francesco Pianeta on Aug. 18 at the Windsor Park soccer stadium in Belfast. Fury vs. Pianeta underpins Carl Frampton’s WBO featherweight title defense against Luke Jackson.

As to whether he would be ready to defeat Wilder after only two comeback fights, Fury, who turns 30 this month, said he was ready to beat Wilder on the day he was born.

Deontay Wilder is disappointed that his dream match with Anthony Joshua won’t happen until next spring at the earliest, but there are plenty of options out there for him and more of them for him to ponder after this past weekend’s events.

Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz looked good against Razvan Cojanu, dismissing his hapless Romanian adversary in the second round on the Garcia-Easter card in Los Angeles.

After the bout, WBC prexy Mauricio Suliaman gave Wilder his blessing to skirt his mandatory against Dominic Breazeale for a rematch with Ortiz.

Presumably that also applies if Wilder accepts promoter Eddie Hearn’s offer for a match with Dillian Whyte. The WBC now lists Whyte as their “silver” champion and has bumped him ahead of Breazeale into the #1 slot in their rankings. And then there’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller who has an Eddie Hearn connection and is a more interesting opponent than Breazeale.

If Wilder vs. Fury is a go, say Fury and Warren, it will be held in December in New York or Las Vegas. We make New York the favorite. The only good date in Las Vegas in December for an event of this magnitude is Dec. 1 and that’s only because Thanksgiving arrives early this year. The National Finals Rodeo, a 10-day event which fills up the town, arrives on Dec. 6, eliminating the next two weekends. And when the rodeo leaves, Christmas is right around the corner. Historically, boxing promoters shy away from putting on a big show right before Christmas on the theory that fight fans have the “shorts,” having exhausted their discretionary income on Christmas gifts.

There are some interesting fighters competing in the upper tier of the heavyweight division and a slew of intriguing prospects coming up the ladder. The division hasn’t been this exciting since the Golden Age of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, et al. Enjoy.

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Les Moonves, Hero of Mayweather-Pacquiao Deal, Now Cast as a Villain

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing

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Moonves

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has taken on a more sordid connotation in light of the avalanche of accusations of sexual impropriety that have thrust the 68-year-old Moonves into the unwelcome company of such accused high-visibility miscreants as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer.

But while the other aforementioned power players have been fired or indicted, their reputations in tatters, Moonves remains on the job as one of the most influential and highest paid (a reported $70 million in 2017) media executives in the United States. Despite a damning article authored by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker that details numerous instances of bad behavior ranging from merely dubious to criminally actionable, and to which Moonves himself has admitted to some extent, CBS on Monday issued a statement of support that seemed to catch the editors of Variety somewhat off-guard. The entertainment publication’s opening paragraph reads thusly: “In a surprise move, CBS’ board of directors is keeping Leslie Moonves as chairman-CEO even as it launches a probe of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by six women in a New Yorker expose.”

Why should still another story of alleged sexual misconduct by an older man seeking to exert improper control over younger women be of any significance to a fight audience? Well, normally it wouldn’t, except for Moonves’ position, which includes a say in the direction of Showtime’s increasingly important boxing operation if he so chooses. When negotiations for Mayweather-Pacquiao, a pay-per-view event which was to be co-produced by Showtime and HBO, hit a snag, Moonves insinuated himself into the discussion because it made financial and logistic sense for him to do so. CBS/Showtime had entered into a six-bout, $250 million deal with Mayweather, and three of the four fights held to that point had underperformed. Subsequently, the prevailing belief in CBS/Showtime’s executive offices was that Mayweather’s long-delayed showdown with Pacquiao was not only advisable, but absolutely necessary to stanch the flow of red ink.

“Without Les Moonves, this fight wouldn’t have had a prayer of happening,” Top Rank chairman and CEO Bob Arum, a longtime friend of Moonves, said after the last “i” had been dotted and the last “t” crossed. “The real hero in getting this done is Les Moonves.”

And this from Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, tossing another verbal bouquet to his boss: “One of the main reasons this deal got done, when maybe other ones didn’t, was having Les Moonves as part of the process. He was deeply committed to making this deal. He is someone that all parties in this negotiation respected. He was really the catalyst for seeing this through. He refused to take `no’ for an answer from any side. He was there making sure that the parties came together in a successful and cooperative manner.”

But while the high-level wheeling and dealing to finalize Mayweather-Pacquiao was done behind closed doors, so too were those instances when Moonves was attempting to arrange a private deal with a female subordinate whose career he could either advance or stymie. One such occasion allegedly involved writer-actress Ileana Douglas, who was summoned to Moonves’ office to discuss matters involving a television project in which she was to have starred. The New Yorker story quotes Douglas’ heightening discomfort as Moonves made coarse and physical advances toward her.

“At that point, you’re a trapped animal,” Douglas said of the incident. “Your life is flashing before your eyes. It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”

After The New Yorker story came out, Moonves apologized, sort of, to the six women who told Farrow that the CBS bigwig had sexually harassed them. All claimed he became cold and hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.

In a statement, Moonves said, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected – and abided by the principle – that `no’ means `no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career … We at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

What makes the furor that has suddenly swirled up around Moonves all the more curious is his prominent support for the #MeToo movement and other feminist causes. In December, he helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. A month prior to that, at a conference in November, he said, “I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for (sexual harassment). And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”

There’s a lot we didn’t know? Oh, for sure. We didn’t know for a very long time that TV’s favorite father figure, now-81-year-old Bill Cosby, would be classified as a sexually violent predator by a Pennsylvania court. Cosby is due to be sentenced Sept. 24 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and his alma mater, Temple University, rescinded the honorary Ph.D. it conferred upon him in 1991. The Cos resigned his spot on Temple’s  Board of Trustees in 2014, after 32 years, amid accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades.

We also didn’t know that Harvey Weinstein, 66, the co-founder of Miramax, would be dismissed from the company and be expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the New York Times ran a story on Oct, 5, 2017, detailing decades of allegations against him by over 80 women. It would seem that the most important piece of furniture in Weinstein’s office was not his desk, but the proverbial casting couch.

One of the more intriguing developments in the widening scandal involved TV newsmen Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer. In September 2017, O’Reilly, fired by Fox News for a series of alleged sexual improprieties, appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today show, where he told host Matt Lauer that his dismissal was “a hit job – a political and financial hit job.” Two months later, Lauer was canned by NBCUniversal after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another much more junior NBC employee. Three additional women subsequently made complaints against Lauer.

Boxing is a physical sport, maybe the most physical there is, and in most cases the transgressions committed were by fighters who resorted to brute force, the fastest way to bring cops and attorneys into the equation. Think Tony Ayala Jr. spending 17 years behind bars for rape, a conviction that came on the heels of a previous incident in which he broke a teenage girl’s jaw after he made unwanted advances toward her in the restroom of a drive-in theater. But it might be argued that those who seek to have their way with women by exercising a different kind of power are just as much or even more reprehensible, an affront not only to the females they view as disposable objects but to any man who would not want to see his mother, wife or daughter treated so shabbily.

According to CBS, there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. He deserves, as everyone does under the American system of jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence. But given the current landscape befouled by others who apparently felt that they could do whatever they wanted because they always had gotten away with it, sticking with the status quo might send the wrong message.

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