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The Ultra Even-Keeled Canelo: “I Still Think Floyd’s At His Peak”

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Mexican sensation Canelo Alvarez hopped on a conference call on Tuesday afternoon, to hype his Sept. 14 showdown against Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.

Oscar De La Hoya started out the call, after being handed the reins by PR ace Kelly Swanson.

Oscar said it’s trending like that the PPV for the bout will break records, and “these are exciting times for boxing.”

Oscar introed Alvarez, who has been a pro since age 15, a topic which is discussed in an ESPN The Magazine feature which hits newsstands this week. Oscar said that Canelo is the most popular man in the sport and that he hasn’t yet reached his true potential.

The fighter spoke Spanish, and Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez translated for him. Canelo said he’s in Vegas, ready to rock n roll.

Canelo was asked why, he thinks, that this superfight has caught on, arguably, more than other recent superfights, such as ones involving De La Hoya, or Pacquiao “I believe it’s because of the fans..it’s the one that they wanted to see..there’s a euphoria,” he said. “They know it’s a fight that’s not going to be easy for either of us,” he said.

De La Hoya was asked why he thinks this fight has caught on so bigtime. He said it’s because many are thinking Mayweather will get beaten by Canelo ( pictured above in Tom Casino-Showtime picture).

Alvarez was asked if he thinks Floyd can hurt him at all. “I think that any fighter at any given point can land and hurt anybody,” he answered.

He said Floyd is a different breed and he can’t be thinking that any other foe he’s met is of a similar nature.

The Mexican said that his weight, and making 152 pounds, won’t be a problem. “It’s not going to bother me at all,” he said. “My most recent fights, I’ve been under.” He said he thinks that weighing 152 will make him faster, in fact.

And what will be his top asset come fight night? His counterpunching ability? His physicality? Counterpunching will help, he said, but he’ll need to do it all. After the first round, he will see what he will be able to do. “Smart pressure” is his aim.

Canelo was asked about Oscar predicting that Alvarez will KO Mayweather, within eight rounds. “It’s actually an honor to hear those comments from Oscar, that I’m going to win,” he said. He will not press for a KO, though. He did predict that he will win. Oscar said he thinks Canelo can handle the pressure. “I can see it, I can envision it, because I know what he’s capable of, I understand his potential,” Oscar said. Canelo hasn’t shown “one bit of what he’s capable of,” he said. “He’s the whole package, he hasn’t put it all together because he hasn’t fought Floyd Mayweather, the best pound for pound fighter in the world.”

Won’t he be overwhelmed by the expectations of his countrymen and women? No, he said, he’s grateful for the opportunity, and isn’t weighed down by the hopes of his nation. He’s also happy, he said, to get love from red-heads, and all other hair colors too.

Sparring with partners who gave him Floyd-like looks helped him immensely, Canelo mentioned. (Of course, someone can try to imitate Floyd, but the real deal is another level or two higher, right?)

Canelo said that when they fought, Ricky Hatton made mistakes by coming in “wide open” against Floyd. We can surmise he thinks he will be wiser when he exerts pressure.

Is he the No. 1 fighter in Mexico now, he was asked. The humble boxer said that question has to be asked of the fans and media, he can’t answer it.

Floyd should be ready for everything from him, because “one punch is all it takes.” And how will he win? Any way will do, he said. And could Floyd get dropped and stopped, as Abner Mares did two weeks ago, versus Jhonny Gonzo? “I’m working hard for this fight, one punch can change everything, anything can happen, you really don’t know,” he said, reiterating that we will have to see how things play out, and predicting is basically useless.

Would a win make you a pound for pound giant? Of course, he said, “it would be a great win. It can change history.”

And does he think Floyd might be underestimating him, saying he thinks he’s faced better men than him? “Yes”, he said, he believes he might be, but he may also be worried about him.

Canelo noted that Floyd does use his elbows and forearms but he doesn’t think Floyd is dirty.

Ten days out, how is he feeling? “I feel very, very well, physically and mentally,” he said. It is the best he’s ever felt.

Julio Cesar Chavez said yesterday that Canelo might lose some stamina coming to Vegas now, after training in Big Bear. “Everybody thinks differently,” he said, saying he wanted to get acclimated to the heat in Vegas.

And regarding Floyd saying that the Cotto fight was and would be tougher than this fight? “That’s good he’s thinking this way,” he said, noting Floyd will see up close how hard it will be, soon enough.

And if Mayweather pressures him, brings the attack to him? “I will make my fight, and not allow Floyd to dictate the tone and pace”, he said.

Would he like to dedicate this fight to anyone? My supporters, family and teammates, he said.

I wondered if Floyd has gotten under his skin, as he’s so even keeled. “No,” he said, “he never got under my skin, I’ve always been very, very strong mentally, I like to be very, very strong. He likes to do his talking in the ring, he said”.

He admitted that the right punch can hurt anyone, even him, when asked if Floyd could possibly KO him.

At 23, is there only upside, since he’s so young, and could come back from a loss? No, he said, “I have a lot to lose,” he asserted.

Oscar was asked if he senses this could be the next great trilogy. There would be a rematch if Canelo wins, and he thinks both would want a sequel.

How could Canelo get that KO he’s talked about, Oscar was asked. The promoter said Canelo has what it takes to “land that perfect punch.”

Oscar was asked if there are any stipulations if Canelo comes in overweight. “There would be a penalty”, Oscar said, but “Saul is going to have no problem whatsoever.”

Canelo was asked to compare his popularity to that of Juan Manuel Marquez. “I don’t like to talk about that stuff,” he said.

“A Canelo win would be the top two or three all-time wins for Mexican fighters”, Oscar said. Canelo said that a win would be massive for Mexico, and he will let the people decide if that win would be bigger than Julio Cesar Chavez’ biggest wins.

What edges does he hold, and why is he so confident he will get the W over Floyd? “I can’t say that I have that many advantages,” he admitted, but he likes his game plan, and knows he’s going to win. Has he seen any decline in Floyd? No, he said, not al all. “He maintains himself very well, I still think he’s at his peak. He’s still Mayweather.”

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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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