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Floyd Mayweather and the Music of the Ring

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All things must pass.

So says the title track of a George Harrison triple album released November 27, 1970. It was his first solo effort after the breakup of the Beatles, and as it is with all noble music, the melodious chorus of the album’s namesake moves its listeners towards one of life’s deeper truths: everyone and everything must pass away, even the greatest of us.

Harrison passed exactly thirty-one years and two days after the album’s release. At just 58, Harrison succumbed to something called metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. He was cremated at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and his ashes were scattered by close family in the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers near Varanasi, India. Most famous as the lead guitarist for the Beatles, Harrison made a tremendous amount of money over his career. In fact, he still makes a tremendous amount of money today. Per a Forbes report, Harrison’s estate took in over $5.5 million dollars last year, over a decade since the popular musician’s last breath. It’s an impressive feat. But as time ebbs and flows, the earth revolves around the Sun year after year, the superfluous details of Harrison’s life and death (how much money he made, the kinds of clothes he wore, etc.) seem to take on less and less importance. In fact, I’d venture to say no young music lover discovers George Harrison for the first time because of how much money he made last year, or at any time in his career at all. Rather, it’s all about the music.

So shall it be for Floyd Mayweather Jr. someday, though he makes for us a much different kind of music. Mayweather was the greatest of his era. He still is. Don’t let anyone tell you different. That’s not to say he wasn’t rivaled at one time or another by any of his contemporaries. He was. But the men who rivaled Mayweather’s greatness at one time or another were more akin to the gods of ancient Greece who rivaled Zeus for the attention of mortals. Only one of them carried the thunderbolt.

Mayweather has been the best for years now. But Mayweather’s been the kind of best you wish had been better. Sure, others had done this before him (Roy Jones, Jr. comes to mind). But Mayweather seemed to take that art to the next level: best because there was no one better, but not the best he could have been.

It’s a shame.

Regardless, Mayweather has enjoyed a great career. It’s been a privilege to watch it unfold. If great boxers are truly canonized in the annals of history as saints, as Joyce Carol Oates contends, he’ll surely be among the very best of them.

And what he’s doing in the sport of boxing today is simply astounding. Undefeated at age 36, Mayweather will make more money fighting Canelo Alvarez this Saturday night than every single boxing writer and historian will make in his or her lifetime combined. We are but mere mortals after all, and he is Zeus.

Maybe that’s too easy of an accomplishment. Let’s put it this way. Mayweather will make more money fighting Canelo Alvarez for 36 minutes, or less, on Saturday than just about any other person on the planet could make doing what he or she is best at in the same amount of time. Wow!

That’s the power of boxing by the way. Don’t let anyone tell you boxing is dead. It isn’t, and it never will be.

And good for Floyd. He wants to be admired, and we can all admire him for this. He craves it. He won’t tell you, but it’s what keeps him working as hard as he does every night in the gym. It’s what drives him on fight night, too. It spurs him to adapt to whatever is in front of him when the bell rings, and it’s what keeps him upright and punching on the rare occasion someone lands something flush. In a way, all great men are this way.

Of course, when Mayweather takes on Alvarez this Saturday, none of this superfluous stuff will matter. Oh, it seems to matter now, but it won’t when the bell rings. And it will matter even less in 10 years time. Oh sure, it’s part of the overall narrative of his life, a grain of sand on the beach of his legacy. But when the blood and spit starts flying on fight night, something like how much money one stands to gain after all the goons and goblins get their share of the split falls far by the wayside. What happens inside the ring is less about the abstract future-past, and more about the immediate present.

Mayweather’s immediate present will be trading leather with a man physically larger than him and almost equally fast. In fact, Alvarez will be physically larger than any of the men Mayweather has beaten in his 44 previous outings. And Alvarez isn’t just a brutish lug either. He’s a sweet scientist. He’s quick, smart and a competent boxer, and at just 23 years of age, he isn’t lacking experience in the least. Alvarez has been fighting professionally since he was just 15 years old. He’s already logged 43 professional prizefights on his ledger, a draw its only blemish.

And so in that moment this Saturday night, the one unlike any other in professional sports, after the pomp and circumstance, the parade of nations and flags, the anthems sung aloud while prayers are recited in silence. After litanies of achievements are read aloud by the deep voiced laud giver, the obligatory reading of rights is fulfilled by the referee, the final touch of gloves ends the final useless staredown. After the ring clears of all the yes-men, wannabe beauty queens, hardnosed handlers and just-happy-to-be-theres.

After all of these things, remember that none of it really matters. It isn’t really about the money, the entourages, the glitz or the glamour. It isn’t about who can buy who or which celebrity endorses which fighter before the fight.

For inside the ring on fight night, only two men remain, still in their corners, eyes beaming with discriminate pride. A lone figure stands between them, a referee with arms held to each side. It is all a mystery now, but will soon be revealed. The mirror shall not remain dark long. He is holding the fury of hell at bay, the clashing of fists, the bone and the blood and the gore of the fight game, holding it until he beckons to the timekeeper to begin the most beautiful song in all of sports. It starts with the sound of a bell, that singular reverberation of beginnings that often hearkens something or someone’s end. It is a Siren’s song, a church bell marking the time, a final moment of calm, a funeral, a wedding, a feast.

It is the first note in the music of the ring, and that is what really matters. When time ebbs and flows away from us, when bright-eyed, strong-jawed novices become long-toothed, bald-headed experts, when our mothers and fathers have made their way back into the ground, when what’s new is something old again and time has caught up to us faster than we ever imagined, we will not tell them of Floyd Mayweather’s millions or the company he kept or what he did or said. We will tell them of the music he made and little more.

Except, perhaps, of the night it ended.

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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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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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