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Hopkins And Jones Were Admonished Yet Golovkin And Kovalev Are Adored

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A week or so ago it was mentioned in this space how much boxing fans love big punchers. Fans not only love watching big punchers fight but they, along with many writers and commentators, are quick to overrate them in the moment and historically. Punchers, on the way up and during their title tenure always look more unbeatable and dangerous than any other style fighters. Fighters who can really hit always get rid of second tier opposition and journeymen much quicker and more impressively than boxers, technicians and counter-punchers do. And in doing that they build up reputations as killers.

During the middleweight and light heavyweight title tenures of Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, it was often stated that they didn’t face any good or noteworthy challengers during their reigns as middleweight and light heavyweight champs. What’s interesting is, has anyone of those critics taken a look at the names and fighters that Gennady Golovkin has faced in his first nine or ten middleweight title defenses, or the fighters that Sergey Kovalev has faced in his first three light heavyweight title defenses? Amazingly, I’ve seen it written and heard it said that Golovkin and Kovalev are destined for greatness?

In his first ten title defenses as middleweight champ, Hopkins successfully defended the title against Steve Frank, Joe Lipsey, William Bo James, John David Jackson, Glen Johnson, Andrew Council, Simon Brown, Robert Allen twice and Antwun Echols. Based on that line up according to many observers, Hopkins was nothing special and just the benefactor of a weak era at the time.

In Golovkin’s ten middleweight title defenses he’s defeated Nelson Julio Tapia, Kassim Ouma, Lajuan Simon, Gregorz Proksa, Gabriel Rosado, Nobuhiro Ishida, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Osumanu Adama and Danile Geale. Golovkin, based on that resume – is consider by more than some as the second coming and perhaps better than Marvin Hagler and Hopkins were. Really?

Sure, Golovkin scored more knockouts than Hopkins in the above bouts and Hopkins wouldn’t have scored as many KO’s as Golovkin did had he fought the same fighters as Gennady in title defenses, but that is strictly due to styles. Could anyone envision Hopkins being considered one of the greats had he beat the same fighters that Golovkin has to this point in title bouts? Not a chance in the world! But since Golovkin is a “catch n kill” attacker who can really punch, he’s presumed great? Yet Hopkins would’ve been ripped in the press for fighting Daniel Geale. If Hopkins had stopped Geale in three rounds, you know what you’d hear? Geale stunk and was just a bum! On the other hand Golovkin destroys him and all we hear is Gennady is the hardest hitting middleweight ever. Give me a break!

The same thing holds true for Kovalev.

In Roy Jones first three light heavyweight title defenses he beat Virgil Hill, Lou DeValle and Otis Grant. And you know what was being said after those defenses; Roy hadn’t fought anyone good. DeValle and Grant were manufactured contenders.

In Sergey Kovalev’s first three light heavyweight title defenses he’s defeated Ismayl Sillah, Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello. And based on that line up Kovalev is a certified life-taker and destined for light heavyweight greatness. I wonder how many would’ve said that about Jones had he made his first three title defenses against Sillah, Agnew and Caparello? How about nobody! And the reason for that is Sergey is a big hitter and looks unbeatable at the moment. Had Jones demolished Capparello the way Kovalev did this past weekend, everybody would be saying this week how terrible he (Caparello) is and how Roy doesn’t fight anybody.

I’m not bashing Golovkin or Kovalev at all, just examining their records. Nobody talks about who they’ve fought, only that they’ve won by impressive knockouts in all of their title bouts. I think they’re both outstanding fighters and two of the more exciting boxers in the sport today. However, neither of them has beaten anybody that is/was a somebody and that’s not conjecture. And because they’re big punchers – they look unstoppable versus second tier opposition. But that is not a testament to their greatness. Yes, they are skilled and more than just big hitters, but they haven’t proven themselves yet against one special fighter, and that’s not their fault because they certainly haven’t ducked anybody. They both fight in sub-par middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. But at least Kovalev will get his first test in November against Bernard Hopkins and then will know a little better just how good or great he might be. As for Golovkin, his division is so sub-par that he’ll have to move up in weight…..or wait for a smaller fighter to move up and challenge him before he’s tested by another outstanding fighter.

Look at the names that Golovkin and Kovalev have defeated, especially in title bouts. Then ask yourself if anyone would be proclaiming Hopkins or Jones greatness if they fought and defeated the same fighters? I say no way in the world because fans and writers are blinded by big punchers. That is until they finally run into a truly special and tough opponent who stands up to their power and punches them back. And that happens to every big hitter somewhere along the way before they retire. History is replete with that scenario playing out.

During the 1990s Hopkins and Jones were admonished because of their opposition. Today Golovkin and Kovalev are lauded based on how they’ve looked beating the fighters they’ve faced. Yet in reality, Hopkins and Jones actually beat better fighters in title bouts than either Golovkin or Kovalev have to this point. Looking back at the names Hopkins and Jones fought during their prime now looks like a list of killers next to the guys Golovkin and Kovalev have faced. A lot of the fighters Bernard defended his title against could be a title holder today.

I’m not saying Golovkin and Kovalev aren’t on a path to the hall of fame or greatness, but they first have to beat a few somebodies and earn a few notches on their belts. Hopkins and Jones both had to before they were accepted as all-time greats. The rules don’t change for Golovkin and Kovalev because they’ve built up a great knockout percentage fighting lesser fighters than Hopkins and Jones fought at the same time in their careers and were mutilated by the media and fans for fighting.

Hopefully, for the sake of professional boxing, both Gennady and Sergey will go onto achieve half as much as Hopkins and Jones did. Because if they do, boxing advocates are in for a nice ride for the next few years. But until then, let us stop with how they’re both the greatest punchers ever at their weight or how greatness is theirs for the taking. Only time will prove that one way or the other. The truth is, Golovkin and Kovalev have yet to face an one outstanding opponent, where beating them signifies you just may be the next coming. What they’ve done is gotten rid of their limited opposition quickly, and that’s caused boxing guys to over react.

Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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