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Bradley Is Not Pacquiao's Most Taxing Concern



manny-pacquiao-v-timothy-bradley c26d4

Let me tell you how it will be

There’s one for you, 19 for me

’Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the Taxman

–Lyrics from a George Harrison-written song on the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album

Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) challenges WBO welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) in an HBO Pay-Per-View bout on April 12 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, and the gist of most of the questions directed by inquiring media minds toward the Filipino legend ran toward what might be described as standard boxing matters. The give-an-take exchanges during Tuesday’s half-hour-long conference call with Pacquiao went something like this:

Q: Are you concerned that you could again get stiffed on the scorecards like you did in your first fight with Bradley? (Bradley was awarded a hotly disputed split decision, also at the MGM Grand, on June 9, 2012.)

MP: “I’m not thinking about the judges. What I want to do is focus on strategy and techniques that we practiced in the ring.”

Q: Does it bother you that Bradley is dropping broad hints that, since your first fight with him, you’ve lost your “hunger” for boxing and “killer instinct” to finish off opponents in trouble?

MP: “The more he says that, the more it inspires me. It’s good for me. But not for him, I think.”

Q: Did you think you were too far ahead on points to possibly lose a decision, and were you shocked when those two judges (Duane Ford and C.J. Ross) turned in cards favoring Bradley?

MP: “I’m not angry. After that decision was announced, I understood that no one is perfect in this world (a reference, presumably, to Ford and Ross). Sometimes mistakes are made. It’s part of boxing.”

Q: Having been a victim of malfeasance by pencil once before, do you feel any additional pressure to score a knockout this time and take matters out of the judges’ hands?

MP: “We’re not focusing on a knockout. Our focus this time is to put on more pressure, to be more aggressive, to throw a lot of punches. If a knockout comes, it comes.”

Pretty tame stuff, all things considered. Then again, Pacquiao never has been the sort to recklessly run his mouth before, during or after fights. He is, by all accounts, gentlemanly in his demeanor and, let’s not forget, he’s also a politician, a member of the Philippine Congress with aspirations of someday becoming his nation’s president. Good manners and rough-and-tumble political instincts seldom are mutually inclusive, but it probably helps those seeking to gain or retain public office if they maintain at least a veneer of humility and the proper social graces.

What has largely gone unsaid in the run-up to this fight, the outcome of which could drastically influence whatever remains of the 35-year-old Pacquiao’s boxing career, is the identity of the most fearsome opponent he actually is facing. The scary dude in question is the same one who long ago flattened the great Joe Louis harder than Rocky Marciano ever could. As he did when he went after the “Brown Bomber,” that foe is targeting “Pac-Man” with a blistering, two-fisted attack, throwing wide haymakers from near and far.

Put it this way: Bradley might be one tough cookie inside the ropes, but that shadowy presence – be he based in the U.S. or in the Philippines — is even more relentless, forever boring in with stinging shots to a prosperous fighter’s bank accounts. What is it that Louis once said? Oh, yeah. You can run, but you can’t hide.

Not from the Taxman, anyway.

Including endorsements, Pacquiao has earned more than $300 million, which certainly seems like a lot of money, and is a figure even more impressive when you consider that, as recently as 2010, the per-capita income in the Philippines was just $2,000, among the lowest of any Asian country. If the PPV numbers are as healthy as Top Rank founder Bob Arum anticipates, Pacquiao’s take for the second twirl around the ring with Bradley could add $15 million-plus to his presumably bulging coffers.

But really rich people aren’t exempt from the kind of money problems that confront less-well-paid workers everywhere, except that theirs are on a much grander scale. The Internal Revenue Service here and its Philippine counterpart have homed in on Pacquiao like heat-seeking missiles. As of December, the IRS was pursuing Pacquiao for $18.3 million in unpaid taxes, with $11 million of the debt relating to the very years (2008 and 2009) that the fighter promised the Philippine government he had fully paid his tax obligation to the United States.

If tax officials in the Philippines are to be believed, Pacquiao’s past-due tax bill there is even more staggering: $50 million.

Asked if his tax problems might be blurring his focus on the task at hand as the rematch with Bradley approaches, Pacquiao insisted it’s no big deal.

“I’m not going to worry about that,” he said. “I didn’t hide anything, and I hired a very good accountant.”

That accountant had better be world-class sharp because, well, the ones Louis sought out to alleviate his crushing tax debt to the IRS were more overmatched than the members of the Bum of the Month Club he so casually dispatched during his long heavyweight championship reign.

One month after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Louis gave his entire $65,200 purse (around $700,000 in today’s money) from his first-round knockout of Buddy Baer to the Naval Relief Fund. Less than three months later, he gave his entire $45,882 purse for his sixth-round stoppage of Abe Simon to the Army Relief Fund. Louis then put his boxing career on hold to enlist in the Army as a private, earning $21 a month.

When hostilities ended, Louis, despite his patriotism-inspired contributions to the American war effort, found himself owing the IRS $500,000. Compound-interest penalties regularly inflated that amount like the clicking meter of a taxi ride that never ends, and Louis died a broke and broken man. Overly trusting, ignorant of things like tax shelters and municipal bonds, and generous to a fault, it has been estimated that one of boxing’s most dominant champions received only $800,000 or so from the estimated $4.6 million he earned during his ring career.

Not that the same fate awaits Pacquiao, but there is another old saying, this one coined by Spanish philosopher George Santayana: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Attempts at slipping those big shots from the Taxman have already influenced where Pacquiao plies his trade, and likely will continue to do so, most probably for the remainder of his ring career. His most recent bout – a 12-round unanimous decision over Brandon Rios on Nov. 24 — took place in Macao, China, in large part because of the top marginal tax rate there is 12 percent as opposed to the United States’ newly increased top rate of 39.6 percent. That meant that Pacquiao pocketed an extra 28 cents on the dollar, a not insubstantial amount and especially appealing to anyone facing his burgeoning tax problems.

Somebody on the conference call asked if Pacquiao would consider fighting in New York City, either at Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan or Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Pacquiao said sure, he’d like that, if it made financial sense for him to do so.

That response provided Arum with an opportunity to jump in and explain the tax-code-influenced economics of boxing, which largely dictates who fights whom, and where.

“Manny is a foreign national,” Arum explained. “If he fights in New York, he has to pay state tax, city tax, unincorporated business tax. It comes to 14 percent. Because he’s a foreign national, he can’t take a credit for any of those taxes. The penalty for him fighting in New York (instead of Nevada, which has no state tax), if Manny’s earnings are $20 million, is as much as $3 million.

“It’s conceivable if somebody is going to make up the difference, that we would fight in New York. But why should it come out of (Pacquiao’s) pocket?”

The same rationale helps explain why Floyd Mayweather Jr. is fighting Marcos Madaina at the MGM Grand on May 3, instead of the Barclays Center, which had also sought to host that bout.

When Pacquiao fought Rios, someone – uh, that would be me – suggested he would have to overcome the “mother of all distractions,” namely Typhoon Haiyan, which had struck the northern Philippines on Nov. 7, killing 5,000 of “Pac-Man’s” countrymen and leaving hundreds of thousands more homeless, hungry and desperate.

Perhaps Pacquiao’s concentration is so riveted on Bradley that the dark tax cloud that is hovering over his head won’t be the granddaddy of all distractions, and one that could prove more nettlesome than that which drifted in with Haiyan. But Bradley is a better overall fighter than Rios, and Pacquiao is 35, after all, an age when the reflexes of many elite fighters slow just enough to make a difference.

The only thing that seems absolutely certain at this point is that Pacquiao will not enter the ring to the sounds of George Harrison’s amplified voice singing of the Taxman reaching deep into his pocket.


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George Groves and Callum Smith Finally Meet in the WBSS Capstone




The 168-pound tournament of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, an 8-man invitational, kicked off on Sept. 16 of last year with a match between Callum Smith and Erik Skoglund at Liverpool, England. Tournaments of this nature in boxing almost never play out as planned and this tourney was no exception. But on Friday we will finally crown a winner when Smith meets George Groves at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, of all places. At stake will be the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy and the bundle of cash that comes with it and Groves’ WBA “super” world super middleweight title.

Despite the odd location, this is a domestic affair. Groves, the top seed, and Smith, the #2 seed, are both Englishmen. And if the fight were on British soil, it would have certainly drawn well. In the UK, Groves is enormously popular. His second fight with Carl Froch attracted a crowd of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium, a British post-war record eventually broken by Joshua-Klitschko.

Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) suffered his lone defeats at the hands of Froch, who defeated him twice, and Badou Jack, and there’s no shame there. Carl Froch, in the minds of many, has a plaque waiting for him at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Jack, a title-holder in two weight classes, is currently ranked #1 as a light heavyweight by the WBA and WBC.

Although both fights with Froch ended inside the distance, both were nip-and-tuck until Froch closed the curtain. Badou Jack defeated Groves by split decision in Las Vegas.

Groves has a high boxing IQ as he demonstrated on Feb 17 in Manchester where he scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Chris Eubank Jr. Groves, observed ringside reporter Gareth Davies, “was just a step too far, too strong and ultimately too technical and experienced in the championship rounds.” Eubank’s father and trainer Chris Eubank Sr. saluted Groves for fighting the perfect fight.

The victory was bittersweet as Groves dislocated his left shoulder in the final round. It required surgery, pushing back the finale until this Friday, a full two months after the conclusion of the other WBSS tourney, for cruiserweights, the finale of which was also pushed back from the originally scheduled date. For a time the promoters seriously considered bumping Eubank into the finals in place of the incapacitated Groves but eventually thought better of it. (Eubank will appear on the undercard in a stay-busy fight against Ireland’s J.J. McDonagh.)

Callum Smith (24-0, 18 KOs) is the youngest of four fighting brothers, each of whom captured one or more regional titles. In the family, the relationship between talent and birth order is inverse, which is to say that Paul Smith, the oldest of the foursome, wasn’t as good as his younger brother Stephen and Stephen wasn’t as good as younger brother Liam.

Liam “Beefy” Smith accomplished what his two older brothers could not, winning a world title. He won the WBO 154-pound diadem in his twenty-second fight and successfully defended the belt twice before it was sheared from him by Canelo Alvarez who knocked him out in the ninth round.

If Callum Smith wins on Friday, he will be recognized by hardcore fans as a more legitimate champion than was the case with his brother Liam. That’s because Callum, who stands six-foot-three (none of his brothers is taller than 5’11”), was touted from the very onset of his career as the most gifted of the fighting Smith brothers. He solidified that opinion in November of 2015 when he knocked out Liverpool rival Rocky Fielding in the opening round. Fielding went on to win the “regular” version of the WBA 168-pound title and that remains the only blemish on his record.

In recent bouts, however, Smith hasn’t looked that sharp. His last two opponents, the aforementioned Skoglund and Neiky Holzken, lasted the full 12 rounds. The obscure Holzken, a converted kickboxer from the Netherlands, was a late sub for Juergen Braehmer who was forced to bow out of the tournament with an illness.

George Groves was a slight underdog to Eubank. On Friday, the odds favor him, but only slightly. At last look it was 13/10 which portends a very close fight. Groves has the edge in experience and in ring savvy and has fought tougher opposition, but Smith will have a three-and-a-half inch height advantage and is judged to be the harder puncher.

Fight fans in the U.S. can access the fight on the new DAZN app. Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is seven hours ahead of New York and other precincts in the Eastern Time Zone and adjust accordingly.

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Three Punch Combo: A Bouquet for “ShoBox” and More



new television

THREE PUNCH COMBO — We are embarking into a new age in boxing. There are new television contracts and digital platforms available that are making the sport more visible than ever before to the masses. But with all these new deals and platforms, it is important not to forget some of the consistent programming that has been around for some time. There is no better example of this than the ShoBox series on Showtime.

ShoBox, more formally ShoBox: The New Generation, began with a simple premise of matching young prospects in with tough opposition. To get their fighters on this series, promoters would have to find credible opponents who could potentially test and maybe even upset their prized prospect. This premise has led to consistently competitive and entertaining fights in the more than 200 broadcasts since the inception of the series in 2001.

This past Friday, we saw just how this premise works once again. There was a four fight card that featured competitive fights on paper in all the matches. However, in two of those matches there did seem to be clear favorites though each of the respective fighters was being matched with their toughest foe to date.

James Wilkins and Misael Lopez opened the telecast in a 130-pound contest. Wilkins was featured in a documentary that aired on Showtime just prior to the card and was expected to make a smashing television debut. He was a knockout artist and the thought was that he would put on a show to open the telecast. But instead, Wilkins got a boxing lesson from Lopez who was busier from the outside and managed to mostly avoid the power of Wilkins throughout the contest in winning an eight round unanimous decision.

The main event featured Jon Fernandez facing O’Shaquie Foster in another 130-pound contest. Fernandez had been getting a lot of buzz and many in the sport considered the Spaniard a future star. This was supposed to be a test for Fernandez as Foster (pictured on the right) represented a step up in class, but nonetheless many expected Fernandez to pass the test with flying colors. Instead, the power punching Fernandez was clearly out-boxed by Foster for ten rounds in an entertaining fight.

These two fights showed once again that when young fighters are matched tough we often get better than expected fights that can sometimes deliver surprises. This coming Friday, the series returns with highly touted lightweight prospect Devin Haney (19-0, 13 KO’s) in the main event taking on former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (33-2-2, 21 KO’s). This is a fight in which Haney is favored but one in which he is facing the toughest challenge of his young career. At the very least, this should be a test for the highly touted 19-year-old Haney and I am certain we get a compelling fight.

ShoBox is boxing’s most consistent series and one that just continues to provide fight fans with high caliber, competitive fights.

10 Percent or 10 Pounds – How To Combat Fighters Who Blow Up In Weight

It is time to address the issue of fighters gaining an absurd amount of weight following the weigh-in. There is a reason why we have weight classes in boxing. If one fighter enters the ring weighing significantly more than his opponent, it gives the bigger fighter a big advantage. This can make for not only non-competitive fights but potentially dangerous situations. I have a simple solution that I think can combat this problem.

In past articles, I have touched on the issue of fighters who miss the contracted weight. My argument has always been to implement a system with stiff financial penalties. So in a similar aspect, I think stiff financial penalties can combat the continued problem of fighters blowing up in weight after the official weigh-in.

What I propose is second day weigh-ins where fighters would not be permitted to put on more than ten pounds or 10 percent (whichever is more) of the contracted weight limit. If they are over, the fight still goes on but the fighter who misses the second day weight limit pays a substantial fine. This simple adjunct can be easily administered by the various state commissions in the United States (or any other commissions worldwide).

Here is an example:  Let’s say we have a fight contracted at 130 pounds and each fighter weighs in at 129 pounds. The second day limit would be 10 percent of 130 pounds which was the contracted weight. So each fighter could come in at a maximum of 143 pounds. Now let’s say one fighter comes in at 146 pounds. The penalty I propose would be 20 percent of that fighter’s purse per pound over the weight. And this money goes directly to their opponent. Under this example, the fighter over weight would lose 60 percent of his purse.

Zero Shouldn’t Mean That Much

We are in an era, largely due to The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Factor, where fighters are often overly protected to keep that precious zero in the loss column. But to do so, they are frequently matched with soft opposition and learn little from dismantling their overmatched foes. There is little to no growth in their career during this period and though the record may get glossy, the development of the fighter may be stunted.

Setbacks can humble fighters and make them see what needs to be done so as not to experience that feeling again. They become better overall fighters and put themselves in a better long term position in their career.

This past weekend, we saw two once promising prospects bounce back with career defining wins after suffering an early unexpected defeat. They are both now in prime position to have their respective careers blossom which may not have otherwise been the case.

Earlier I mentioned O’Shaquie Foster’s upset win against Jon Fernandez. Three years ago, Foster was a highly touted prospect. He had a good amateur background and was blessed athletically with dynamic speed. After building up an 8-0 record against less than formidable opposition, he lost in a dreadful performance to Samuel Teah. Another loss would follow several months later to Rolando Chinea. But Foster clearly learned from his mistakes in these fights and bounced back, layering his natural athletic ability with much improved skills in frankly outclassing Fernandez. Foster’s losses made him take a step back and re-evaluate what needed to be done inside the ring. He is now in prime position to become a contender in the 130-pound weight division.

Luke Campbell was a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist and considered a can’t-miss future star in boxing. But in his 13th pro fight, in a rather shocking development, he was put on the canvas and lost a split decision to veteran Yvan Mendy. Another loss followed two years later against Jorge Linares but Campbell performed well while losing a split decision and flashed signs of improvement from the Mendy setback.

The rematch with Mendy for Campbell took place this past weekend and Campbell did what many expected him to do in their first encounter. He boxed effectively from the outside and mixed in precision combination punching to easily avenge the defeat. It was a dynamic performance by Campbell and put him in line for a big fight at lightweight.

Luke Campbell is a vastly different fighter from the one who lost to Mendy three years earlier and appears primed to potentially live up to the once high expectations. He is in a better spot today in his career due to what he learned from that first loss to Mendy.

Photo credit: Dave Mandel / SHOWTIME

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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights



experienced opponent

He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at

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