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What Floyd Mayweather Might Learn From Manny Pacquiao

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“Pacquiao’s a has-been, his career is over,” Floyd Mayweather said three months ago in San Antonio during a stop on the ten-city press tour he and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez did to promote their September 14th junior middleweight title bout.

Regardless of his stinging assessment, the reigning pound for pound king had no qualms barking yet more orders to the “has-been” Pacquiao through the press. Mayweather told boxing writer Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports:

“Everybody’s like, ‘Aw, Pacquiao,’ but I’m just letting you know he’s not getting a fight with me. The only way he’s getting the fight with me is if he signs with Mayweather Promotions. He’s got to give me fights with Mayweather Promotions. If he don’t give me no fights under Mayweather Promotions, then he’s not getting the fight. That’s how it is working now, because the ball is in my court. The ball has been in my court.”

Mayweather went on to detail how hard he tried to share said ball with Pacquiao (seen in above Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) by making the one fight every red-blooded boxing fan in the universe wanted to see back then, when Pacquiao was at his peak. One can only assume, of course, the version of Pacquiao our friend Mayweather was referring to was the one who obliterated Ricky Hatton and dismembered Miguel Cotto circa 2009. After all, that version of Pacquiao would have been a tough out for any welterweight in the world at the time, even the audaciously gifted Mayweather.

Alas, it never happened. And there’s no use recounting it all here. If you’re a boxing fan, you know the story. If you don’t, save yourself the trouble. It was all rising action and no climax, a fight without punches, dark clouds without a storm.

“I wanted to fight Pacquiao at one particular time, but I wanted to fight him when he was at the top. I’m not going to speak on another man’s finance business, but like I said before, I left Top Rank for a reason. He’s with Top Rank, so I want him to be happy with Top Rank.”

At 34, the diminished Manny Pacquiao’s career continues under the banner of promotional partner Top Rank this November when he will face the brave but likely outclassed Brandon Rios in Macau, China. With a win, Pacquiao and his handlers will hope to salvage a career laid waste by one of the more devastatingly perfect punches you’ll ever see in the sport.

Last December, just when it seemed the popular Filipino was at long last on the verge of overwhelming his arch-nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez, in the sixth round of their fourth and maybe final encounter, Pacquiao was concussed down to the cold, harsh reality of the unforgiving blue canvas by a singularly beautiful and savagely delivered right hand counterpunch.

Poor Pacquiao never saw it coming.

With ten seconds remaining in Round 6, Pacquiao had landed a vicious left cross. Soon, he had Marquez backing into the ropes in retreat. It seemed the end was near. Pacquiao feinted a jab, but was suddenly stunned by Marquez, who had ducked under it with absurdly perfect timing to unload that pristine right hand punch to the jaw that Pacquiao never saw coming. His head flipped back violently when it landed, and he melted into the canvas face first.

It was vicious. It was cruel. But it was boxing.

Pacquiao died in that moment. Not the man, of course, but his legend. In the blink of an eye, the previously indestructible Manny Pacquiao, an entire nation’s Superman, was swept into a little pile of rubble, a laughably unintimidating heap of frailty. In just an instant, the fearsome freight train with lightning fast hands made of angry anvils was rendered to a state of fragile weakness. Manny Pacquiao was nothing now.

Nothing.

Mayweather will be nothing one day, too. Sure, it might not happen in the exact same way it did for Pacquiao. After all, where Mayweather is a supreme example for aspiring risk managers everywhere, Pacquiao is the mascot for the gambling sorts. And now that Mayweather has easily outpointed Canelo Alvarez, is there anyone in the boxing world between 140 and 154 pounds to favor against him? Even if he braved the middleweight scene, wouldn’t he likely outbox aging champion Sergio Martinez, too?

No matter. Our grand American hero Mayweather could retire 100-0 someday. The axiom would still hold true. Eventually, no one is what they used to be. No one.

So perhaps Mayweather’s greatest lesson will end up being the one nobody was able to teach him inside the ring: how to lose.  And if that’s the case, if Mayweather is the type to struggle for life’s meaning when the lights turn away from him, if he’s the sort to be shocked in the brevity of life’s peak, our pal Floyd need only look to Pacquiao’s knockout loss to Marquez for some inspiration.

In the third round, after Marquez landed several left hooks to the body, Marquez feinted the punch again before sending a long, looping overhand right with the intention of shattering Pacquiao’s crown. The punch seemed almost a full circle. It was slow, deliberate. Everyone in the arena saw it headed Pacquiao’s way. Pacquiao seemed to have long enough to blink several times before it got anywhere near his face. One ringsider swears the person sitting next to him had time for a full yawn while it made its way over.

In his youth, Pacquiao would have gotten out of the way. Or maybe blocked it. In his old age, though, he could but partially catch the punch with his glove, that slow, arching blow, to absorb some of its impact.

It didn’t matter.

This hulking mass of what used to be lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez punched with such force now, at welterweight, that such a blow floored Pacquiao for the first time in any of their four fights previous. Pacquiao seemed confused as the reality of it slapped him on the brow, as his bottom titled down towards the welcoming ocean of the canvas. As his shoulders found their new home, Pacquiao’s feet rose slightly as he rolled to his back, perhaps protesting the new physics of a previously familiar environment.

Things were different now, and here was the lesson.

Pacquiao climbed diligently to his feet. His resolve did not vacillate or waver. If anything, the newfound terror of Marquez’s incredibly sudden power brought forth such a burst of light from his soul that one might have believed, if just for that moment, the script of Pacquiao’s legend was closer to its beginning than to its end.

It may have been his finest moment inside the ring.

Pacquiao’s relentless vigor, his singular expression of defiance, carried him oh-so-close to victory. It was close enough to feel the warmth of the approaching light of ardor, close enough to smell the flowers of adulation, close enough to anticipate a quiver of victory.

But these things would never come.

Instead, he had brought himself only close enough to feel the pain of loss in its fullest measure, the terrifying sting in the death of his legend, as he lay down there on the floor, Marquez’s lion’s paw having swept him into a tiny heap of a bashful little lamb.

But after it was over, as the songs were being sung for his opponent now instead of him, as the adulation from those who used to compare him to the greatest of the greats devolved into an especially pathetic form of pity reserved only for fallen fighters, this wretched little Manny Pacquiao did not whimper or cry. He did not stomp his feet on the ground. He did not accuse Marquez of cheating.

Instead, Manny Pacquiao smiled sheepishly for the camera. He looked a bit sad, yes – embarrassed even. But he was not ashamed. His face was brave.

“That’s boxing,” he said just moments after peeling himself out of oblivion.

No, Manny. That’s life.

Kelsey McCarson is a boxing writer for TheSweetScience.com and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @KelseyMcCarson.

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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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