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BORGES Floyd Was Great, But It Wasn’t A Fan-Friendly Scrap

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Predictions of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s looming demise at 36 were clearly overblown but what beyond a display of his defensive wizardry was gained in his one-sided victory over Robert Guerrero Saturday night?

Well, you could start with the $32 million guaranteed paycheck he left the MGM Grand Garden Arena with after being awarded a well-deserved but far from crowd pleasing 117-111 decision that retained his WBC welterweight title and lifted his record in world championship fights to 21-0.

You could also point out that those who feared Mayweather’s legs had begun to desert him saw them on full display all night, a number of times moving him so quickly off the ropes that Guerrero fell into them while trying to muster an attack against an opponent who had already fled the scene.

Even the disappointed Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO) had to give Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO) props for his elusiveness if not his boldness not long after his volcanic father had bellowed from inside the ring after the fight ended: “He ran like a chicken!’’

“He was definitely on his game tonight,’’ the younger Guerrero conceded. “He really moved in the ring tonight. He’s very slick, very quick. He has a great defense. That’s why he’s undefeated. He did his thing.’’

The problem was “his thing’’ was roundly booed by the crowd of 15,222 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, many of whom grew increasingly bothered by Mayweather’s refusal to engage. With his father back in his corner after a 13-year absence, what also returned was the passive, defensive shell Floyd, Sr. had schooled his son in so well as a young boy that he became the best defensive fighter since Pernell Whitaker.

Unfortunately, with that also came the displeasing absence of offense that limited Whitaker’s popularity with the boxing public. Mayweather suffered from the same for a number of years but after his father’s absence he began working with his uncle Roger and slowly became more offensive minded.

Naturally that led to being hit more often than in his early days as well but it also made him far more popular as he began to punish opponents not only by embarrassing them with his slick defensive maneuvering but also with the stinging results of his fast hands.

This reached its height-nadir in his last fight, a win over Miguel Cotto a year ago in which his lip and nose were bloodied despite winning a clear decision. Mayweather said that experience led him to ask his father to return to his side, putting aside the well-documented differences between them that once led them not to speak for seven years.

The elder Mayweather’s revival had three immediate results: his brother Roger was derailed and did not work his nephew’s corner Saturday night after working with him in training camp; his son was seldom touched by the flailing  Guerrero; and the crowd was bored half to death by the absence of anything resembling either risk taking or aggression.

Mayweather attributed some of that to a claim of injuring his right hand after repeatedly landing it square in the face of Guerrero, a southpaw vulnerable to such a punch. He insisted this was why he did not score a knockout late in the fight, especially in the eighth round when he seemed to stun Guerrero but didn’t work hard enough to close the show that round.

“People thought the layoff would play a factor but it did not,’’ said Mayweather. “I felt I got hit by too many shots against Cotto. I had to bring the defensive master back – my father.

“I was boxing smart. After the Cotto fight I realized my defense was not as sharp as it should be. The less you get hit the better. The great thing about my father is he says if you’re winning and not taking punishment keep doing it.

“The last thing my father told me was ‘I’m gonna tell you what’s going to get him – right hands all day.’ I went out and executed the game plan delivered to me. I showed the world I could still box. My defense is still there.’’

That was made obvious not only by the half dozen or so times Guerrero reached out to hit Mayweather only to find him gone as he fell into the ropes punching air, but also by his 11 per cent connection rate with his jab and 19 per cent overall connection rate (113 of 581) according to CompuBox statistics.

Just as telling, in his first two appearances as a welterweight Guerrero averaged 71 punches per round. Against Mayweather that was nearly halved to 48, a sign that Mayweather’s elusiveness, agility and reflexive reaction time had caused Guerrero to grow tentative and unwilling to punch.

”If you call that running you must be blind,’’ Mayweather Sr. said in response to Guerrero’s father/trainer, Ruben, claiming Mayweather “ran like a chicken’’ all night. “Floyd just made his son look like a fool all night.’’

Certainly as the fight wore on Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO) found it more and more difficult to find Mayweather. Even when he had him on the ropes or in the corners, Guerrero had trouble creating safe punching distances, often being tied up by Mayweather or punching from too far away at an apparition who kept sliding off, often slipping behind him before he could land.

Yet as brilliant as his defense was, Mayweather’s offense was absent much fire beyond a steady stream of right hand leads his father told him would decide the fight. They did, repeatedly going unblocked as they slammed into Guerrero’s face often enough to finally put a divot above his left eye but they were seldom accompanied by a following left hand and even less often did he try to press his obvious advantages.

Instead Mayweather boxed like he was working for Mutual Life, working the actuarial tables of risk reduction. While that earned him an easy victory it also earned him the enmity of the crowd and, in the end, it is the crowd that pays you.

They began to boo midway through the fight and that persisted into its final rounds and after the final bell tolled. Seemingly unmarked and uncaring, Mayweather said if his right hand was ready he would return on Sept. 14, which would be the quickest he’d been back in the ring in 13 years.

Whether anyone is there to watch or, more significantly to his benefactors at SHOWTIME, whether 1.3 million people (SHOWTIME’s break even point on Mayweather’s six-fight contract) are willing to again pony up $70 to watch what appeared to be a shadow boxing exhibition by a Quaker remains to be seen.

 

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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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