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The Super Fights Of The Last 40 Years: Part One

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Super Fights

 

Super Fights – What constitutes a Super Fight?

Basically, it needs two factors that must accompany it: 1) it has to capture the interest of non-boxing fans and, 2) it has to be between two outstanding/great fighters who are at or near their prime and look unbeatable.

Even more than that it must have the “It” factor. Everyone knows what the “It” factor is and it doesn’t have to be explained.

During the gloved era there were probably four Super Fights that had the “It” factor prior to the first Frazier-Ali bout in 1971. Below is a brief capsule of those:

The first Super Fight was between Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, and former champ James Jeffries, who was coming out of a six year retirement with the sole purpose of dethroning Johnson because he was black. Jeffries was undefeated when he retired and was thought to be the best athlete in the world. When Jeffries accepted the terms of the fight, he said he was responding to “that portion of the white race that’s been looking to me to defend its athletic superiority.” In a fight that the world was watching, Johnson took Jeffries apart and knocked him out in the 15th round on July 4, 1910.

The second Super Fight was on July 2, 1921, and saw the largest audience in history with an estimated 300,000 to have heard one of the first radio broadcasts of a special event. The heavyweight championship bout between American champion JackDempsey and French challenger light heavyweight champ, Georges Carpentier, was comprehensively covered by the media. The hero in the fight was Carpentier because he was a distinguished pilot in World War I, whereas Dempsey was the Villain because he had been thought of as a slacker for avoiding the military draft even though he was never convicted of the charge. Dempsey-Carpentier was the first million dollar gate in boxing history and was also seen by over 90,000 people live. Carpentier reportedly shook Dempsey in the second round but was eventually overcome by Dempsey’s strength and tenacity and was knocked out in the fourth round.

The third Super Fight was the rematch between heavyweight champ Gene Tunney and former champ Jack Dempsey on September 22, 1927. A year earlier Tunney out sped and out-boxed Dempsey over 10 rounds to take the title. The rematch was seen by over 100,000 people live. For seven rounds Tunney was handling Dempsey again, but Jack finally caught up with him and dropped Gene in the seventh round. Referee Dave Barry led Dempsey to a neutral corner and picked up the count. Tunney sprang up at nine, but 14 seconds had elapsed. So the question became, could Tunney have beaten the original nine count? Gene dropped Jack in the eighth round and went on to retain his title via unanimous decision. The fight is known for “the long count” and even today almost 90 years later it’s debated about whether or not Tunney could’ve risen before the count of 10.

The fourth Super Fight occurred on June 22, 1938 when heavyweight champion Joe Louis, who had been stopped in his previous fight with German champ Max Schmeling in a non-title bout two years earlier, knocked Max out in the first round. Louis’ sensational knockout of Schmeling was sweet revenge after suffering the first loss of his career to Max, and it prevented Schmeling from taking the heavyweight title back to Germany, something that Adolph Hitler desperately wanted to use for Nazi propaganda and proof of Nazi superiority.

The list below is compiled of fights that had the eyes of the world on them because of one or both fighters’ personalities along with the dynamic matchup between them. They were bouts that the general public longed to see and in some cases were years in the making. Also, mostly everyone had an opinion on them as to who would win and was very aware of the circumstance surrounding them. They captured the imagination of more than just boxing fans and definitely had the “It” factor accompanying them. These are fights that, if you were to ask ten people on the street who’d win them, the opinions would be split in most cases. And all ten people on the street would know both the fighters you were talking about. In the case Of Ali-Holmes and Tyson-Lewis, both Muhammad and Mike were washed up at the time. But Holmes and Lewis needed to beat them to be recognized as the establishment champ and the people’s champ. The fights became big because of the stardom that both Ali and Tyson enjoyed at the time.

Below is my first-hand account of the true Super Fights of the last 40 plus years. I briefly touch on the fight and match up, my pre-fight thoughts, the odds and the result……….Yes, all the fighters below participated in other big fights that were either on closed circuit TV or PPV, but they weren’t really much of a thought to non-boxing fans. There’s been plenty of fights that became classics or historically significant after the bout, but they don’t count on this list.

Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali (March 8, 1971): This is the gold standard to which all Super Fights are measured. If you weren’t alive for Frazier-Ali I, (yes, it was billed Frazier vs. Ali because Joe was the recognized champ) you have no concept of just how big it really was. Both fighters had a legitimate claim to the title and were undefeated. Ali, 29, never lost it in the ring and Frazier, 27, beat every note-worthy heavyweight in the world except Ali. There hasn’t been anything like it or close to it since and there’s no fight on the horizon that could be made to even come close to the build up and ballyhoo that surrounded it. It was one of the rare Super Fights in which the realization exceeded the expectation. It was rightly named the “Fight Of The Century” when it was announced on December 30, 1970. Frazier 26-0 (23) and Ali 31-0 (25) were polar opposites in and out of the ring and on the eve of March 8th it was impossible to envision either one of them losing. Yet you knew on March 9th one of them would be a defeated fighter. The styles of Frazier and Ali couldn’t have been more different and one’s strength was the others’ weakness and vice-versa. Frazier was a great catch n’ kill swarmer who applied unrelenting pressure – Ali was a beautiful boxer who utilized the whole ring and possessed the fastest hands and feet in heavyweight history. It’ll take you a long time to think of another fight that featured two such highly skilled great fighters who were at or near their prime like it was the case with Frazier and Ali in March of 1971. It’s not the slightest bit of a reach to proclaim that Frazier-Ali I was the most anticipated sporting event of all time. Both Frazier and Ali were guaranteed a record purse of 2.5 million dollars apiece.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Frazier was a 6-5 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: I thought Ali took Frazier too lightly going into their first fight and favored Frazier to win. It was obvious in all of his interviews that Ali didn’t understand Frazier’s style and had no idea that Joe could execute it so well that it would make his time in the ring with him almost a living hell. It was also easy to glean that Frazier prepared for the bout as if his life depended on winning it – compared to Ali viewing it as a big party, reasoning that Frazier was just another tool he would use to cap off his return to the top of the boxing world. When I read in the Philadelphia Daily News a week before the fight that Ali’s wife, Belinda, told Muhammad’s trainer Angelo Dundee that she didn’t want to go to the fight because Muhammad was going to lose because he underestimated how great Frazier was convinced me that I was right and Frazier was going to win.

Result: Ali got off to a quick start and looked to get Joe out of there in the first five rounds, but he lacked the tools needed for the execution. In addition to that Frazier was forcing the tempo of the fight and forcing Ali to fight him off on the inside with his bell-to-bell effective pressure. After 10 rounds it was a toss up and not yet decided. Then Frazier’s pressure and body punching started to pay big dividends as Ali only won one round, the 14th, of the last five. In the 11th round Frazier had Ali out on his feet and falling all over the place like a drunken sailor, but he couldn’t finish him. Frazier landed the signature punch of the bout when he dropped Ali 24 seconds into the 15th round with one of the hardest and most viscous left-hooks thrown by a heavyweight. Ali was up at the count of four but if there was any doubt as to who was the better fighter that night, it was wiped away with Joe’s hook. Frazier fought the fight of his life and won it conclusively via a 15 round unanimous decision (8-6-1, 9-6 and 11-4) to retain the undisputed heavyweight title. The AP scored the fight 9-5-1 Frazier but the UPI had it a draw 7-7-1. Ali was also great on this night and fought one of the best fights of his career even though he lost. But on this night Joe Frazier refused to be denied and could’ve defeated or lived with almost any heavyweight in history…..At the post fight press conference, which Ali did not attend, Joe got off the best line of the night. When asked if he was surprised when Ali went down in the 15th round, he retorted “I was surprised when he got up.”

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier II (January 28, 1974) Heading into this fight Ali and Frazier had unfinished business between them. Yes, Frazier won their first fight but Ali with his overwhelming bravado and personality convinced many that Joe wasn’t really the winner nor was he the greater fighter. Neither Ali 43-2 (31) or Frazier 30-1 (25) held the title when they fought the second time but Ali was the #1 ranked contender and Frazier was the #2 contender. It was an elimination bout between the two best heavyweights in the world to see who would face the new champ, George Foreman, who beat Frazier for the title a year earlier. Ali maintained at that time that he beat Frazier the first time they fought and that irked Frazier because he felt Muhammad robbed him out of the props he was due after beating him. Joe was out to finish what he started the first time and was looking to become the first fighter to stop Ali. Even though both fighters would be an underdog versus Foreman, the world was still captivated as to what would happen when the two rivals clashed again. A week before the fight Muhammad and Joe got into a fight/wrestling match on the ABC’s Wide World of Sports while watching and commentating on the tape of their first fight. Ali called Joe ignorant for suggesting he went to the hospital after the fight. When in reality Ali went to get his swollen jaw ex-rayed, but Frazier went to the hospital for over a week 10 days after the fight due to exhaustion. The studio brawl was for real on Frazier’s part and it further stimulated interest in the bout, not that it needed it.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Ali was a 7-5 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: Ali fought 13 times between his first and second fights with Frazier. Joe only fought four times in the more than two and a half years that pasted between fight I and II. Ali fought every contender in the division except George Foreman, who turned him down, compared to Frazier only fighting two top contenders in Foreman and Jerry Quarry. For this bout Ali had the needed urgency that drove Frazier in their first meeting and it was impossible not to see how that would go a long way in deciding the outcome. In addition to that it was hard to envision that Frazier could be quite as great in the rematch as he was the first time they fought. That, and because Ali was so much busier during the interim between fights I thought that would be the difference in the ring and favored him to win a decision.

Result: Ali was three pounds lighter than he was the first time and used his legs and circled the ring more, especially during the first half of the bout. Muhammad fought one of the better fights of his post exile career and won a 12 round unanimous decision (8-4, 7-4-1 and 6-5-1). The AP had it 8-4 Ali and the UPI saw it 7-4-1 Ali. It was a was a very close fight and Ali’s margin of victory over Frazier wasn’t as wide as Frazier’s over him in their first fight. Ali hurt Joe with a right hand in the second round, but referee Tony Perez thought he heard the bell and stepped between them as Ali was looking to finish Frazier. Thus Frazier regained his footing and fought better as the fight progressed. Joe’s best rounds were the seventh and the eighth when he worked Ali over to the head and body while he had him pinned against the ropes and in the corners. They traded rounds between nine and twelve, but this time Muhammad was a step ahead of Joe and didn’t trip over Frazier’s left hook as much this time as he did during their 1971 fight. This was a better and quicker paced fight than most remember and by today’s standards it would be an instant classic.

George Foreman vs. Muhammad Ali (October 30, 1974) When George Foreman held the title he was perceived as being as invincible as any heavyweight champion in history. This was Ali’s second shot at the title after being stripped of it on April 27, 1967 for his refusal to be inducted into the US army. He lost in his first bid three and a half years earlier to Frazier. Foreman 40-0 (37) was seen as a destroyer based on him demolishing the only two fighters who ever defeated Ali 44-2 (31), Joe Frazier, and Ken Norton seven months earlier. Foreman, before the fight was considered by many as the hardest puncher in history and if he could knock out Ali, he very well might’ve gone down as the greatest heavyweight champ ever. Former greats Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis both picked Foreman to win by kayo but admitted that if Ali scored the upset, he’d have to be considered one of the all-time greats. Both fighters were guaranteed five million dollars apiece which was the most ever paid to any fighter in history at the time.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Foreman was a 3-1 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: This was one time that I coped out and wouldn’t commit to picking a winner. The only thing I said when pressed on who I thought was gonna win was, “I don’t know if Ali is going to win, but I’m certain that if he does lose, he will not be punched around the ring and manhandled by Foreman the way Frazier and Norton were.” For some reason I got the sense that Ali knew something that no one else knew and that he had a much better chance to beat George than what most everyone thought. But even at that I couldn’t outright pick him to win, it’s just that I wasn’t completely convinced that he was going to lose.

Result: This is probably the crowning jewel of Muhammad Ali’s career, which he has often said himself. From the first round on it was apparent that Ali’s ring strength was equal to or better than Foreman’s as he tied him up and shut George down. Foreman was never more sure of himself before a fight and went after Ali as if he were handcuffed and just didn’t believe Ali could make him do anything he didn’t want to. Once Ali realized he could handle George’s power, especially to the body, he rested in the corners and against the ropes (the birth of the rope-a-dope) and allowed Foreman to punch himself out. After eight rounds George was slowing down and his punches lost a lot of their thunder. Late in the round Ali unleashed a barrage of lefts and rights to the jaw that dropped Foreman and he was counted out with seconds left in the round. Ali would go down as an eighth round knockout winner and only the second man in history to regain the undisputed heavyweight title.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 8: Competing Cards in N.Y. and L.A.

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Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”

DiBella

Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at www.360promotions.us and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

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Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told GMAnetwork.com’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

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