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The Super Fights Of The Last 40 Years: Part Two

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Super Fights – In Part Two I’ll provide thoughts and insight on The Super Fights circa 1975-85, such as Ali-Frazier III, Leonard-Duran I, Ali-Holmes, Duran-Leonard II, Leonard-Hearns I, Holmes-Cooney and Hagler-Hearns.

Boxing was a mainstream sport at this time and major fights were on network TV almost every weekend. By the late 1970’s the Ali era was coming to a close. Roberto Duran, who had been lightweight champ since 1972, was still going strong and up coming future greats Sugar Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler were emerging. With that wealth of great fighters it was easier to expand from hardcore boxing fans to mainstream viewers. This the step needed to elevate an important fight to Super Fight status.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier Frazier III (October 1, 1975) Ali 48-2 (34) was at the height of his popularity and fame during this time and was clearly one of the most recognized persons in the world. With Foreman in retirement after losing to The Greatest, Muhammad was looking for a big pay day and a place to go away with his new girlfriend and eventual third wife, Veronica Porsche. Frazier 32-2 (27) stopped Jimmy Ellis in his last fight five months earlier and was obsessed with getting one more shot at Ali. So much so that he began showing up at everyone of Ali’s title defenses, challenging him to fight again. In Ali’s last title defense versus Joe Bugner in Kuala Lumpur, Frazier was ringside and taunted Ali while Don Dunphy was broadcasting the fight over closed circuit TV. Ali heard Joe’s taunts and leaned over the ropes and looked down at Frazier before the start of one of the later rounds and said, “Don’t worry chump, you’re next.” Aside from a rematch with Foreman, Frazier was the biggest money fight out there for Ali, so he agreed to make another Frazier fight shortly after beating Bugner. Being that this was the rubber match between them and both knew that the winner would be regarded as the greater fighter historically, both promised their fans that he would be the winner.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Ali was an 8-5 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: As was the case going into their second fight, Ali was more active than Joe, fighting four times compared to Frazier only having two bouts in between their second and third bouts. However, Frazier said countless times to the Philadelphia media that he wanted Ali so bad that he’d fight him for nothing just so he could get him in the ring again. As the fight drew near Ali’s antics and admonishment of Frazier–like calling him a Gorill–along with rumors of the trouble he was having with his wife Belinda and girlfriend Veronica peaked interest in the fight. At this time Ali was so confident in his ability and toughness that he really thought he was invincible. But inside he knew Frazier was the one fighter who he couldn’t intimidate and that Joe had supreme confidence in that he was the greater fighter of the two. On the day of the fight I picked Ali to win because I thought he had a littler more left in the tank than Joe. But even at that I knew it wouldn’t be easy and a Frazier win shouldn’t be viewed as an upset.

Result: Ali called the fight “The Thrilla In Manila” and it sure was. After the bout he called it the closest thing to dying he’d ever experienced in his life. Ali-Frazier III was the most fiercely contested heavyweight championship bout in boxing history. It was actually three great fights in one. Ali dominated the first four or five rounds, rocking Frazier with hard lefts and rights and almost dropped him at least twice. Joe started to smoke somewhere around the mid part of the fifth round. From rounds six through 11 Frazier worked Ali over to the head and body so much so that you started to think Ali couldn’t turn the fight around and he might not finish on his feet. Somehow in the 12th round Ali got his fifth or sixth wind and really started peppering Frazier as he tried to get inside. At the bell to end round 14 Frazier walked slowly back to his corner with both eyes nearly swollen shut. Once Joe was on his stool trainer Eddie Futch said to him that he was stopping the fight because he was getting hit with punches he couldn’t see. He also told Joe that no one will ever forget what you did here tonight, and no one has. When Ali saw that Frazier wasn’t coming out for the last round, he stood up from his stool and raised his arm in a victory salute, then sat down on the canvas due to exhaustion. Ali would go into the record books as the winner via TKO 14. At the time of the stoppage Ali led (66-60, 66-62 and 67-62) and the AP had it 63-63. This fight sapped whatever greatness Muhammad and Joe had left as fighters and neither of them were ever great in the ring again. They should’ve retired in a joint celebration together a couple months later.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran (June 20, 1980) In the late seventies going into 1980, Roberto Duran 71-1 (55) was the biggest star in boxing, aside from Muhammad Ali. Then media darling and Olympic Gold medal winner Sugar Ray Leonard 27-0 (19) arrived on the boxing scene. Leonard stole a lot of Duran’s thunder because of his charm and personality, and actually overshadowed Roberto when he fought. By the time Duran relinquished his lightweight title and was fighting as a welterweight, Leonard was about to fight for the WBC title vs. Wilfred Benitez. Leonard beat Benitez for the title and that paved the way for him to defend it against the surging Duran seven months later. Throughout the promotion Leonard was hyped as the good guy and he relished that. On the other hand Duran was more than happy to wear the black hat and be viewed as the bad guy and bully.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Leonard was a 9-5 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: At the time Leonard and Duran were two of the best pound for pound fighters in boxing. Like Joe Frazier viewed Muhammad Ali, Duran seethed at all the attention Leonard received and was on a mission to give him his first defeat and capture his second world title at a higher weight. In his last few fights before fighting Leonard, Duran looked so-so fighting the gate keepers at welterweight. As for Leonard, he scored the most brutal knockout of his career to date with a perfect left hook to the chin of British champ Dave “Boy” Green in his last bout before meeting Duran. On fight night I thought Leonard was too much of a natural welterweight and also thought Duran lacked the punching power to really hurt or bother Leonard. I was confident that he would beat Duran up and perhaps even stop him.

Result: In what was called “The Brawl In Montreal” Leonard and Duran went at it as if they wanted to end the others career with every punch. Leonard, who was a great boxer, was lured into fighting Duran toe-to-toe which was Duran’s kind of fight. Duran almost dropped Leonard and hurt him bad in the second round with a left hook. Leonard survived the round and gave as good as he took but from that point on he was bulled to the ropes and had to fight Duran off of him instead of boxing him. The fight was an all out war and what became apparent was Roberto Duran was a better and smarter boxer than Leonard or anyone else thought. And the flip side of that was, Leonard was a better puncher and tougher than Duran or anyone else thought. The fight was close on a rounds basis, but after 15 rounds you had to give it to Duran because he forced the fight and landed the biggest punches of the bout. For the record books, Duran won the WBC welterweight title via a 15 round unanimous decision. The official scoring saw it (145-144, 148-147 and 146-144) Duran. The AP had it 144-141 Duran.

Muhammad Ali vs. Larry Holmes (October 2, 1980) Muhammad Ali 56-3 (37) was three months shy of his 39th birthday and hadn’t fought in 25 months and really hadn’t looked like a world beater in five years. Larry Holmes, 30, was two years into his title tenure and was looking better in every fight. Ali’s legacy and personality overshadowed Holmes 35-0 (26) and Larry couldn’t gain the acceptance of the public. Holmes was a dominant champ at the time and won all seven of his title defenses by stoppage but still paled in the eyes of the public to Muhammad Ali. Ali’s bravado and the perception that he could do whatever he wanted to if he got in great shape really helped sell the fight. Muhammad was out to win the title for a record fourth time and viewed Holmes as a stepping stone to history. Larry was focused on removing the shadow of Ali from stealing his spotlight. Holmes said, “To me Ali is not God, but godless. Not Superman. Not a miracle worker. He’s a human being, just like you and me. He got his weight down, and he thinks that will make him young again. Well, it won’t. Ali can’t turn back the clock; no one can.”

ODDS: Holmes opened as a 3-1 favorite but the odds dropped with every pound Ali lost and by the day of the bout Holmes was down to an 8-5 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: I saw Ali fool Howard Cosell and a lot of the media because he lost 47 pounds getting ready for the fight. But there was never a doubt in my mind that Holmes was going to beat Ali because at that time Larry could do everything that Ali could do only faster and better. In addition to that Holmes worked with Ali as a sparring partner in 1974-75 and held his own with him and never saw Ali as being immortal. The way I saw it was Ali didn’t have a single tool to beat Larry with in 1980 other than a con game which Holmes wasn’t the least bit vulnerable to. In late 1980 I wasn’t sure Ali could’ve beaten any contender in the top-10 let alone Holmes, who was absolutely the best fighter and class of the division then.

Result: Ali looked like an empty package and took a beating from Larry for 10 straight rounds without winning a single one and only landed 10 punches during the fight. Holmes hit Ali cleanly to the head and face more than any other fighter did in 10 fights combined. Luckily for Ali, his trainer Angelo Dundee stopped the fight after the tenth round. In my opinion this fight contributed to Ali’s poor health more than any other fight of his career. He was hit to the head more times than in any other bout and at a time when he was older and afflicted physically. Holmes eliminated Ali’s ghost that over shadowed him but his true greatness and respect that he longed for as heavyweight champion didn’t come immediately.

Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard II (November 25, 1980) Duran 72-1 (55) was on top of the world after beating Leonard five months earlier. He partied day and night in the weeks and months after their fight and reportedly ballooned up to over 200 pounds. Leonard 27-1 (19), now had the zeal to beat Duran the way Roberto had it for him before their first fight. Duran was incensed that Leonard made more than five times as much money as he did for their first fight. Once Duran worked the deal where he would be paid a million dollars more than Leonard, the fight was set. And Duran never gave it a second thought as to whether or not he had enough time to get in great shape for the rematch.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Leonard was a 3-2 favorite.

Pre-fight thoughts: After the first fight, I wasn’t sure if Leonard was strong enough to box Duran. But I didn’t believe Duran could be as great in the rematch as he was in their first bout. I also felt that if Leonard lost the rematch his career would be over and he’d retire. But something inside told me that that’s not how Leonard’s career was gonna end. So with my mind saying to me that Leonard will find a way to win, I picked him to win because I thought that’s how it’s supposed to go and they’d most likely end up fighting a rubber match in 1981.

Result: From the time Leonard took off his robe you could see he was jacked up for the fight and would hard to beat on this night, whereas Duran didn’t look like he was on the mission he was the first time. Leonard moved and boxed this time and mocked Duran who couldn’t really get going or find his rhythm. For the first six rounds Leonard moved and boxed and kept Duran from bulling him to the ropes the way he did in their first bout. After six rounds Leonard was ahead, but it was still a close fight. In round seven Leonard began to taunt Duran and wound up his right hand and suckered him with a straight left to the face that landed flush, (the infamous bolo punch). After seven rounds I had it 4-3 Leonard but thought the fight was a long way from being settled. In the closing seconds of the eighth round Duran turned his back and quit waving his glove in a sign of surrender and said “No Mas” to the referee. Afterward he said he had stomach cramps that started in the 5th round. He said he lost too much weight too fast and then over ate after the morning weigh-in. For the record Leonard regained the WBC welterweight title via a TKO in eight rounds. The officials saw the fight (68-66, 68-66 and 67-66) Leonard at the time of the stoppage. The UPI had it 69-65 Leonard.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns (September 16, 1981) This is no doubt the most widely anticipated welterweight championship bout in history. And both Leonard and Hearns are regarded today as among the five greatest welterweights ever. Leonard 30-1 (21) was the WBC champ for the second time and on top of the boxing world after regaining the title back from Roberto Duran 10 months earlier. Hearns 32-0 (30) was a 6’1″ destroyer who had knocked out Pipino Cuevas to win the WBA welterweight title and had made three successful defenses of it. Hearns was a scary fighter and there were a lot of Leonard fans at the time who worried that Hearns might be too much for him. These two were clearly the class of the welterweight division. Leonard was a polished boxer with blindingly fast hands who could really fight – Hearns had the height, reach and power of a light heavyweight and he too could box and really punch.

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

Pre-fight thoughts: I thought Leonard’s movement and underrated punching power could likely neutralize Hearns reach and outside power. I just wasn’t sure Hearns would allow Leonard to use his skill being that Tommy would be pumping his long jab at Ray’s face and chest to keep him at bay. Which turned out to be the case for the first five rounds of the fight. Having watched tough Randy Shields live 12 rounds with Hearns five months earlier, and figuring due to his fight with Benitez and two fights with Duran, I viewed Leonard as the more battle tested and ready for the big moment and picked him to win.

Result: For the first five rounds Hearns stalked Leonard and his long reach prevented Ray from getting inside where he could land anything of consequence. In the sixth round Leonard slipped inside and hurt Hearns with an uppercut. From that point on Hearns used his legs and boxed Leonard who was now fighting as the predator. Leonard had his moments and enjoyed bullying Hearns, but Hearns won rounds nine through twelve on all three scorecards by boxing and moving. After 13 rounds Hearns was winning the fight and Leonard’s eye was closing. In the fourteenth round Leonard came out to end the fight and emptied his wagon on Hearns. He staggered him with an overhand right and then unleashed a furious assault of lefts and rights prompting referee Davey Pearl to stop the fight with less than two minutes left in the round. It would be recorded as 14th round TKO win for Leonard and he was the undisputed welterweight champion. At the time of the stoppage Hearns led on all three scorecards (125-122, 125-121 and 124-122). The AP had it 126-122 Leonard.

Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney (June 11, 1982) Don King turned the fight between the undefeated Holmes and undefeated Cooney into a fight between the races. King hyped Cooney 25-0 (21) as the great white hope since there hadn’t been a white heavyweight champ in 22 years. Cooney was knocking everybody out on his way to the title, and some actually wanted Holmes to lose because he beat Ali. King turned Holmes 39-0 (29) into the bad guy for the promotion and many fools bought into it. The soft talking hard hitting white guy against the bitter nasty black guy was a can’t miss marketing campaign. Holmes even had some of his property vandalized before the fight and the KKK staged rallies backing Cooney. Leading up to the fight it was the challenger Cooney, who was featured on the cover of Time magazine and SportsIllustrated. Another slight to Holmes who won the title a year after Conney turned pro. On the night of the bout snipers were posted on rooftops over looking the outdoor ring.

ODDS: Holmes was an 8-5 favorite on the day of the fight.

Pre-fight thoughts: I knew Conney’s power was no joke, but he went from fighting sophomores in high school to fighting a University professor in Holmes. On top of that, Cooney was treated as if he were the champion and Holmes the challenger by the media and sports shows. If that weren’t enough to set Holmes off, how about the fact that Cooney was getting purse parity earning 10 million dollars for the fight. Cooney hadn’t beaten one top contender with the exception of an old Jimmy Young on his way to the title. And in that fight Young was holding more than his own until he endured a nasty gash above his eye. Holmes was the reigning champ for four years and Cooney gets purse parity and equal billing? I thought believed that would provide all the motivation he needed. I thought Cooney would be dangerous from beginning to end but Holmes was the overall better fighter/technician and would win the fight going away.

Result: Holmes fought the most complete and purposeful fight of his career. I don’t think he was ever better. Holmes dropped Cooney in the second round with a right to the jaw, but Gerry fought back and rocked Holmes in the subsequent rounds. As the fight progressed the difference in skill and experience that Holmes owned began to take over. Larry’s jab was the dominant punch in the fight and it was part and parcel to his offense and defense. It kept Cooney from really getting close enough to land his vaunted left-hook the way he needed to in order to have a chance to win the fight. Cooney had his moments right up until the end but it wasn’t enough to turn the fight in his favor. By the 13th round Cooney was spent and Holmes was pot-shotting him at will. Cooney’s trainer Victor Valle saw that Gerry was at the point of no return and jumped into the ring and stopped the fight with eight seconds remaining in the round. For the record Holmes was the winner via TKO 13. At the time of the stoppage Holmes led on all three scorecards (113-111, 113-111 and 115-109). The AP had it 116-109 Holmes..

Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns (April 15, 1985) This was a battle between the two biggest non heavyweight stars in boxing. With Sugar Ray Leonard retired, both Hagler 60-2-2 (50) and Hearns 40-1 (34) were jockeying for Leonard’s baton regarding big fights and paydays. Since it looked like Hagler was never gonna get a chance to fight Leonard, beating Hearns more convincingly than Leonard did would have to make due. In the build up to the fight Hagler and Hearns went at it in the press. Hearns called Hagler a midget and Hagler responded back calling Hearns a freak. The opponent everybody used as the measuring stick to compare them was Roberto Duran. In 1983 Duran went the distance with Hagler for the middleweight title, but was knocked out for the only time in his career by Hearns in the second round of their junior middleweight title bout seven months later. This led many to believe that the matured Hearns would be too much for Hagler. By the time Hagler defended his undisputed middleweight title against Hearns he’d already defended it 10 times successfully knocking out every challenger except Duran. HBO analyst Larry Merchant: “Hagler is the strongest fighter Hearns has ever fought. Hearns is the best fighter Hagler has ever fought. We’re here to get the answers”.

ODDS: Hagler opened as a 13-10 favorite but a lot of late Detroit money came in and by the day of the fight Hagler was a 6-5 favorite.

Pre-fight thoughts: I was a little late accepting Hagler’s greatness but eventually came around and saw that he really was a beast. When he destroyed the tough Mustafa Hamsho in three rounds in their rematch prior to fighting Hearns, I was beginning think of Hagler as one of the great middleweights in history. Hearns seemed so confident and sure of himself before the fight and that caused me to go back and forth on who I thought would win. Then on the morning of the fight I saw Hagler on Good Morning America via a satellite feed. Right before he signed off, he said, “see these belts (and he held up his three title belts) there’s no way in the world Tommy is leaving the ring with these tonight.” At that point something clicked inside that told me Hagler was right about who was gonna win. When I got to the office, I bet my boss, who was a huge Hearns fan, $500.00 that Hagler was going to beat Hearns tonight.

Result: Hagler proclaimed the fight War, and it sure was. The first round of Hagler-Hearns very well may be the best and most exciting round in boxing history. Hagler and Hearns nearly killed each other during it. The pace resumed in the second round with Hagler looking a little stronger at the end of the round. In the third round Hagler was cut and went after Hearns as if living meant knocking him out and dying would be having the fight stopped because of his cut and losing. Hagler went after Hearns and unloaded everything he had and knocked him out at 1:52 of the third round. This was Hagler’s most impressive showing as a pro and had some observers saying Sugar Who?

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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