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Wladimir Klitschko: Unlike Floyd, His Lopsided & Boring Fights Don’t Sell In US



The worst thing for an elite athlete is for him not to be cared about. Forget whether or not the fans think he is really good, the real death sentence is when they acknowledge that you’re formidable and good but couldn’t care less to watch you perform.

No athlete grasped that quicker and earlier than a young Cassius Marcellus Clay in the early 1960s when he did a radio show after flamboyant wrestler “Gorgeous” George. The young Clay met George and went to see him wrestle that night and was amazed at the crowd’s reaction, which was split. Many in attendance were cheering for the bombastic George to get his butt whipped, while others enjoyed his act and were there to see him perform. And what stood out most to Clay was that the arena was packed and everybody had an interest in the outcome. It didn’t matter if they were there to see “Gorgeous” George win or lose, what mattered most is they were in attendance to see “Gorgeous” George.

That’s when Cassius Clay realized that being good wasn’t enough and that an athlete had to be noticed. He also saw that being the “bad guy” wasn’t such a bad thing and happened to be great for business. He understood as a bad guy you’d attract fans who were hellbent on seeing you get beat and that there’d also be those who would like the persona and personality and would show up just to see and hear what you were going to do next. Thus “I am the Greatest” was born and Clay, who later became Muhammad Ali, became the biggest draw and star in boxing since Jack Dempsey. Muhammad Ali became a pioneer as to how athletes and entertainers presented themselves to their potential paying customers.

The most recent example of this occurred after the NFC championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers on January 18th. After Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman made the game saving play in the endzone with seconds left in the game, he went off a la Cassius Clay after beating Sonny Liston to FoxSports sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Forty million people saw Sherman go off about how he’s the greatest corner-back in the NFL and for the next two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Sherman received more attention than Denver Broncos quarterback and five time MVP Peyton Manning. Sherman was a topic of discussion on both news, sports and interview shows nonstop leading up to the game which just so happened to be the most watched television broadcast in history. Before Sherman went off after the NFC championship game, he wasn’t that well known, except to hardcore NFL fans.

Sports history is replete with these type of scenarios. The best fighter in boxing, Floyd Mayweather, thrives on this type of projection and flamboyancy. Until Floyd fought Oscar De La Hoya back in May of 2007, nobody cared about the undefeated Mayweather to much extent. He didn’t posses the ring athleticism of Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard and wasn’t a perceived destroyer like Mike Tyson. His fights weren’t terribly exciting and he didn’t posses natural charisma. Then he met Vince McMahon of the WWE who helped turn him into today’s biggest attraction and story in professional boxing after he defeated De La Hoya.

Enter multiple heavyweight title holder Wladimir Klitschko 61-3 (51). Since 2005 Wladimir has lost about as many rounds as Mayweather and has posted many more stoppage victories. Sure, some will say Klitschko hasn’t really fought any outstanding heavyweights during that run, but that’s not his fault. Exactly who would you like him to fight among those most qualified to fight him? On the other hand Mayweather has picked his spots fighting certain fighters after they’ve peaked, before they’ve fully blossomed or forced them to meet him at a catch-weight up or down from where they made their mark and fought their best. Yet Mayweather attracts substantial PPV buys and Klitschko can’t even get on either of the two major boxing broadcast networks in boxing, Showtime and HBO.

“I understand the criticism that the fights are lopsided and kind of boring. I’m getting it,” Klitschko said last week. Yes, his fights have been drama-less and many are quick to disparage his skill and ability as a world class fighter and champion, but if he’s so terrible, why doesn’t one of those fighters qualified to fight him go in there and beat him? The same applies to those who disparage Mayweather because he’s not a knockout puncher. To that I say, “he punches hard enough to win.”

“I’m missing the fans in the U.S.,” Klitschko said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The fan base is huge here and I would love to fight back in the States. I want to fight here but I need a broadcaster, either Showtime or HBO, and I need an arena,” Klitschko said. ”Of course I also need an opponent who is interesting to fans. I think the Arreola-Stiverne winner could be a good choice.”

Based on Klitschko’s above statement, Wladimir understands and fully grasps that it’s important to amass a U.S. following. However, American fans are fickle and appreciate and react to sizzle much more than substance and that doesn’t just pertain to boxing. Andre Ward and Mikey Garcia are perfect examples. They are every bit the fighter and technician that Mayweather is, but they don’t know how to or care to instigate the fans and media the way Mayweather has mastered in order to expand their popularity. Wladimir’s intentions are good and I believe he’s willing to fight the best of the best around today because he always has. Sadly his size, strength and power cause many of his opponents to fold up and worry more about what he might do instead of what they should be attempting to do to dethrone him.

And by the looks of the heavyweight landscape that’s not about to change unless Bermane Stiverne 23-1-1 (20) turns out to be a better fighter than perceived and catches Wladimir at the right time. In order for Wladimir Klitschko to change his marketability, he’d have to do something outrageous or be involved in some sort of controversy, something that is not likely to happen.

This is a man who was flirting with the idea of Don King promoting him and his brother – until they realized when they went to see King at his palatial mansion that King wasn’t actually playing the piano as he led them to believe, because it was a self playing piano. That turned them off and King never had a thing to do with either brothers’ career.

It’s amazing how a personality makes Mayweather’s often boring and lopsided fights must see. In America nobody would recognize Wladimir walking down the street, but in Germany he fights in front of fifty thousand fans regardless of who the opponent is and is greeted like a rock star.

It would be interesting to see how Floyd Mayweather would advise Wladimir about stimulating interest in his career. Is there any doubt that if Mayweather were Klitschko and possessed the same assets and liabilities as a fighter that he’d fight exactly the same way? Not in my mind. He even would’ve made the same mistake as Wladimir in agreeing to fight Ross Puritty early in his career.

You know what’s kind of interesting? Klitschko even has a more compelling personality than Mayweather. As boring as I find Wlad can be as a fighter sometimes, I’m always interested in what he has to say. Mayweather, on the other hand, completely puts me to sleep, except during those times when he’s actually annoying me. But perception is everything, I guess.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at


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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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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



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



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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