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Pacquiao, Arum and Rios Do NYC: Manhattan Presser Report



Bob Arum has yet to give a tagline to his next PPV on Nov. 23, headlined by Manny Pacquiao and Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, taking place at The Venetian Macao in China. While it looks to be an excellent match-up between two all-action fighters, he appears less interested in the fight itself than what it represents.

“The world is changing,” Arum said from the dais on Tuesday afternoon at Jing Feng restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown for the first leg of the US press tour. He was referring to his company Top Rank opening the doors to China to big time prizefighting and developing Macao as a potential threat to standard-bearer Las Vegas. This has been made possible due to the enormous popularity his top earner, the Filipino Pacquiao, has enjoyed throughout Asia, among other continents, over the last decade. But an equally important player has been a new member of his stable, Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and burgeoning pro at light flyweight who enjoys hysterical, Pacman-like fame in his native China. This in a country of 1.35 billion has Arum licking his chops, even if Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong banned the sport in 1959, which was only legalized in 2001 when China won the bid to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (Committed to winning more Olympic medals than any other nation in 2008—for the symbolic import such an achievement denotes—China went after amateur boxing full-bore.)

At pressers such as this, Arum laps up the spotlight as much as any mega-star fighter. Regardless of what you think of him, the 81-year-old is a freak of nature, defying age every bit as much as Bernard Hopkins. He puts the late George Burns to shame. He acts his age only in the time it takes him to cross the room and whatever hair dye he insists on using. In other ways, he recalls the qualities of great veteran fighters; making every move count and wasting nothing, setting traps, thinking several moves ahead, with a couple hollow-points in the chamber.

An example of Arum’s verbal nimbleness occurred when he was twice interrupted while holding court by some loudly spoken Cantonese spoken over the restaurant’s PA system. Like a Borscht-belt comedian, he paused for a beat and then replied “I agree.” When it happened a second time ten minutes later, he said, “Hold the orders please,” using it as a segue-way to discuss other matters at hand. The only people present who didn’t chuckle or applaud were the two scantily-clad Tecate girls flanking him; like Madame Tussauds wax figures, their painted faces didn’t move a muscle and no plastic parts jiggled. He began to expound on the merits of the events big sponsor Tecate beer: “The fastest growing beer in America,” he reminded the crowd. He proposed a toast to all the “umbres”—then corrected himself and put more “H” into it, out of respect for all the Latinos who have made him a wealthy man—who would be imbibing the fine beverage during the fight.

Arum didn’t hold back from firing a few jabs at his rival Golden Boy Promotions, explaining how the Managing Editor of Time magazine whom he and Manny met with yesterday, said he was bored at Floyd Mayweather’s last fight at the MGM Grand. Arum explained to him that’s because other people in his business have “No pizzazz…. ‘That’s how some people do it, but not us. A Top Rank fight is a spectacular show. Between fights, dancers come in the ring! There are fire displays and great displays of lighting! A real show. People will be entertained.’” He likened his product to arguably the number one brand in sport, the NFL, who get the concept of putting on a good show.

After he was done with Golden Boy, he went after the boxing press, saying, “The bloggers don’t talk about [the show Top Rank puts on]. They don’t get it and don’t get what’s important for the future of the sport.”

“The world is changing but it is still the same,” Arum continued, steering his spiel back to where he first began today. He reminded us that the PPV will begin as they always have at 9pm EST, and will be distributed and broadcast by HBO, whom he called “the best in the business at PPV.” (Not long ago, the man who once famously said, “Yesterday I was lying but today I’m telling the truth,” spoke of “all the bullshit and phony events HBO is into these days”). As Macau is 12 hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time, the televised portion of the card will begin at 9am that Sunday in China, which isn’t my idea of fun. Arum noted that all the marketing will remain the same, with a “Face Off” segment moderated by Max Kellerman and a juicy “24/7” series.

When Arum called the usually feral Rios ( on left, with Pacquiao, in photo courtesy Chris Farina-Top Rank) to the stage, a guy who could make a construction worker blush, it seemed a choir boy had possessed his soul. He was sweetly wide-eyed and epithet-free, offering only kind words towards his foe. “This”—referring to the whole tour—“is the first presser where no one talked smack,” Rios said. “Everyone has been respective.”

He admires Pacman’s achievements and can find nothing negative about him to latch on to. Three years ago, before Pacman fought Rios’ stable-mate Antonio Margarito, he joked about Freddie Roach’s well-documented Parkinson’s disease, which was caught on video. He has since apologized and, at the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a hint of discord between the two camps.

When Arum took to the stage once more and began introducing Pacquiao, he didn’t refer to him as a fighter. He spoke only of him as “a great congressman,” a veritable flower among weeds in the corrupt world of politics in that beleaguered Third World nation.

This was as telling as anything Arum had done all day. The octogenarian is all about the future. China is the future. “Bam Bam” Rios may be the future. Pacman the fighter? The 34-year-old was last seen planking on the canvas for a good ten minutes. The Bobfather is planting new seeds. The world keeps turning and pauses for no one, including Manny Pacquiao.

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



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



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.



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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