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The Fighter Who Makes Bernard Hopkins Look Like A Kid

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augie 0572fHolding a press conference to announce an upcoming boxing match doesn’t mean, of course, that the fight will be held. One of the participants could be injured in training, forcing a cancellation, or he might object to the financial arrangements if there isn’t enough money to cover the promised purse.

There also could be a problem getting said bout officially sanctioned, which frequently is the case if the commission that determines such matters rules that a fighter is medically unfit to enter the ring, or if the promoter of the event somehow doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Given those potential factors, it is hardly a given that former featherweight Augie Pantellas, who will turn 70 on Feb. 16, actually will swap punches with a much younger opponent on June 7, 2014, the date he is tentatively scheduled to have his name entered in the Guinness World Book of Records as the oldest fighter ever to appear in sanctioned, non-exhibition bout. But Pantellas believes it will happen, and so does publicity-craving promoter Damon Feldman.

British cruiserweight Steve Ward is listed by Guinness as being the oldest professional boxer, having defeated Pete McJob in 2011, at 54, thus ending a 23-year retirement. But that designation is incorrect (the fight is not even listed by BoxRec); former WBC super lightweight champion Saoul Mamby was 60 when he lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Anthony Osbourne on March 8, 2008, in Georgetown, Cayman Islands. Regardless of whether Ward or Mamby has the more legitimate claim to the Guinness entry, however, Pantellas would easily shatter the record — if his proposed fight actually takes place.

“It’s a story because of my age,” said Pantellas, who compiled a 28-6 record, with 20 victories inside the distance, as a locally popular featherweight from 1967 to ’79, 32 of his 34 pro bouts being held in Philadelphia or one of its suburbs, Upper Darby, Pa. “But when people see me, they can tell I still have a youthful body. I’ve been blessed by God.

“I took my physical and my doctor said that everything’s good. I can still punch hard. I always could punch hard. Back when I was fighting, the punches came out a little quicker and sharper, but if I’m in shape, my punch will still be devastating. I still have that power.”

Feldman, a former super middleweight who compiled a 9-0 record with four knockouts before an injury ended his career in 1992, has stated that his first preference is to have Pantellas set the record in the Philadelphia area, where he still is a recognizable name (he was inducted in the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007). But if Feldman can’t get the go-ahead from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, whose executive director, Greg Sirb, has something of a contentious history with him, he said he could take the fight to Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

“We’ll try to do it here (in Pennsylvania),” Feldman said. “We’ll give it the first shot. I’m not saying it can’t be done here. But wherever it’s held, there’s legitimacy. Augie is not some 70-year-old guy coming out of nowhere. He fought Sammy Goss and Bobby Chacon. The first time he fought Goss, at the Spectrum, he drew over 10,000.”

Sirb, who twice fought on “Celebrity Boxing” cards promoted by Feldman, might prove a tough sell when it comes to granting needed approval for the staging a Pantellas record-setter in Pennsylvania. Feldman became something of an outcast with the Pennsylvania commission some years ago when he got into a physical altercation with another promoter, P.J. Augustine, and wound up punching him out.

“I was a wild, young guy,” said Feldman, now 44. “I made mistakes. I admit it. But I don’t think I have a problem with Greg. In my book he’s the best commissioner there is.”

For his part, Sirb is reserving judgment on any application to issue a license to Pantellas, no matter how much Feldman appears to be buttering him up.

“Nothing has come across my desk about it,” he said. “It would all depend on what (Feldman) is trying to do. There will be no comment on my part about (a possible application) until I see it. But I will say this: Play by the rules, there’ll be no problem. Don’t play by the rules, you’ll have a problem. That applies to everybody.”

Neither Feldman nor Pantellas, who since 1979 has operated a lunch stand outside the Delaware County (Pa.) Courthouse in Media, is a stranger to controversy. Feldman’s “Celebrity Boxing” cards have included appearances by, among others, disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, former baseball slugger and PEDs whistle-blower Jose Canseco, onetime Partridge Family kid Danny Bonaduce, L.A. police beating victim Rodney “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” King and Michael Lohan, fathered troubled actress Lindsay Lohan and apparently passed down some of his more outrageous genes to her.

Pantellas twice appeared in Feldman-promoted “Celebrity Boxing” exhibitions, and in 2007, upon his induction into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame, he said he hoped to take on Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Laila Ali, in the sort of “Battle of the Sexes” that rocked the tennis world when 29-year-old Billie Jean King thumped 55-year-old Bobby Riggs on Sept. 20, 1973, in Houston’s Astrodome.

When Feldman told longtime Philly promoter J Russell Peltz of his plan to stage a Laila Ali-Pantellas bout, Peltz told him he didn’t think Sirb would ever agree to sanction it. “Well,” Feldman said, “do you think New Jersey might?”

In a Philadelphia Magazine profile a couple of years ago, writer Don Steinberg labeled Feldman “King of the D-List,” detailing at length Feldman’s many forays into the sublime and ridiculous, which have gained him frequent notices in local newspapers’ gossip columns and guest appearances on sports-talk radio station WIP.

“Damon has always been more about promoting himself than his events,” Peltz, a no-nonsense inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, told Steinberg. “He’s more about the sizzle than the steak.”

But the idea of a Pantellas fight at 70, as Feldman noted, isn’t completely crazy. “The Broomall Bomber,” as Pantellas was known, looks 20 years younger than his actual age and he’s married to a woman 24 years his junior, which in and of itself would make him a hero to a lot of his fellow senior citizens. Pantellas again is training with Marty Feldman, Damon’s 80-year-old father, who posted a 20-3 record with 17 KOs during his own boxing career and who took a journeyman light heavyweight, “Prince” Charles Williams, all the way to the IBF title in 1987, a belt he successfully defended seven times.

Older athletes making cameo appearances strictly for PR purposes isn’t a particularly new concept, either. Minnie Minoso, now 87, was a .298 career hitter and winner of nine Gold Gloves as a major league outfielder for five teams from 1949 to ’63. Minoso played three games for the Chicago White Sox in 1976, at 50, and two more games for the White Sox in 1983. In 1993, at 67, he appeared with the independent St. Paul Saints of the Northern League and again in 2003, thus becoming the only professional baseball player to be listed in box scores in seven different decades.

To Pantellas’ way of thinking, what he is attempting to do is far less noteworthy than the idea of Bernard Hopkins, who turns 49 on Jan. 15, being the IBF light heavyweight titlist at an age when most fighters are long since retired.

“You think what I’m doing is unbelievable? Bernard Hopkins is unbelievable,” Pantellas said. “To be his age and still be a champion is something I can’t even imagine. Bernard Hopkins is the man.

Well, B-Hop is not so bad for a relative kid of 48. Now, if he still holds is going strong in 2025 …

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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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