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Danny McDermott Could Still Be A Contender



Update: Contender no more. Danny graduated. He won his fight on Saturday night, via KO in the sixth, with a body shot. Took out the liver belonging to Ronnel Esparas.

Four punch combo, top to bottom, Arturo would have smiled.

“It just happened a few hours ago, and I feel like I’m dreaming,” Danny told me Saturday night. “It’s amazing, WBU World and International light welterweight champion!”

Having Manny’s guy Buboy Fernandez wrap his hands, work his corner, made it that much more special, he said.

“This was all for my boys. I wanted to show them they can do anything they want. Nothing is impossible. Anyway, it’s not about the title, WBU, WBC whatever..It’s the story I guess people care about.”


There are too many good people in New Jersey for it to be rightfully derided as The Armpit of America.

Yes, yes, so the brand of moron specific to that region can possess a specific blend of nacho-cheesy exterior, and speech betraying a gleeful distaste for intellectual curiosity, and an un-earned and grating tendency to possess an elevated sense of worth commensurate with the circumference of out-sized biceps, in direct counter-proportion to the underdeveloped calf muscles which lay flat with vestigial flare.

The propensity to confuse the color “tan” with “orange” and fondness for spray tans maybe makes some of their citizens deserved of snickers, but all in all, Jersey receives too much scorn per capita.

The world has known too many kind souls from that place on the map to see that parcel of land as one big town full of losers.

Please allow me to introduce you to a Jersey guy, a fighter whose charm and wit and heart leaped out at me right away. I had no way of knowing, since our relationship was so casual, how trying the life of Danny McDermott had been, how much he’d needed to employ the traits and strategies of the best prizefighters outside of the ring. And since Danny possesses immense pride, the sort that can alternately lift you up, and also spur you to not reach out when asking for help is the wisest play, I had no way of knowing the soul-piercing issues which had plagued him recently, and left him an emotional robot, lights barely flickering, really nobody home but a sad ghost. After absorbing blow after blow outside the ring, in the manner of the most ubiquitous record-padding specialist, the traveling salesman of losing who travels from town to town to do his thing, which is lose to the up and coming golden boy, McDermott’s mind is today in a far better place, and he will in fact be fighting for the WBU light welterweight title on Sept. 13. Boxing, it’s fair to say, could well be responsible for saving his sanity, and helping him keep chugging when he’d be partially excused if he sleep-walked through life, or worse yet, opted out through a slow-motion slide featuring a sad symphony of bar-stools and popping pain pills, which would probably lead to a coda of an existence that reeks of confirmed desperation, and sad summations by family and friends when the music ends.

Here is Danny’s tale, one familiar to people who know the sport intimately, and don’t succumb to the easy path to omnipresent cynicism and critique….


Danny McDermott, a 35-year-old New Jersey resident, came from a blue collar family which had boxing in the DNA. Dad boxed in the Marines, and when fighting was on the tube, everyone clustered around and watched. Grab the TV dinner, don’t spill on the carpet, but don’t take eyes off Tyson

Ring mags lay around the house, and while other small fries would pore over Spiderman comic books, little Mac would read from the boxing Bible. “My dad hung a heavy bag and speed bag in our backyard in New Jersey,” he tells me, “and we would learn a little here and there and workout.”

At 12, Danny picked out his profession. Prizefighter it would be. Mattingly is cool, but c’mon. Firefighters are to be admired, but fighters are to be adored, and respected at another level, OK?

Living with his aunt and uncle in North Bergen, NJ during the week, and dad on weekends, and with his mom once a month, he learned a most useful trait for boxers…to adapt. He had to, had to learn to deal when he was hit with an out-of-nowhere uppercut, the death of a beloved cousin. “In 1991, I lost my 23 year old cousin, who was like an older brother to me, from heart failure in his sleep, ” Danny says. “My brother and I found him in his room. He was a lead singer for a rock band. A few weeks after he passed away, a record producer from a big label came looking for him to talk about his band signing a record deal. It was heart-breaking. His dream had finally came true but he wasn’t there to live that dream. I realized I needed to create my dream.”

A documentary on the greatest boxers of all time pushed him to get more serious about becoming a pro fighter, rising in the ranks, and snagging a title. He went from training in dad’s backyard, to the gym. Jersey boy Arturo Gatti, a Canadian transplant, was a considerable influence on young McDermott.

“My first fight I attended was him winning his first world title against Tracy Patterson at MSG in 1995. I was actually given the hand-wraps he wore in that fight–I have them in a glass case in my home. If you were to tell me I would have been making my pro debut on his card 10 years later I may have thought you were crazy. He was from my area in New Jersey and I wanted to be as exciting as him.”

As Gatti was edging closer to the finished line, Danny kicked off his pro career. Some Jersey boys grab a guitar, try and learn how to make it sing. Danny grabbed gloves and tried to learn how to throw his fists to make ’em sting. He debuted in January 2005, far down on a card topped by a Gatti/Jesse James Leija face-off. Gatti won by KO5, and Danny beat Jason Chacon via UD4. He won three straight, and there were post-win toasts, and so much promise, and so much tavern optimism. Too many toasts? There was a draw with Ed Valdez in November 2005.

He rebounded with a win, and lost to Manny Garcia in November 2007, but was started on a solid run, momentum and confidence building when he beat Floriano Pagliara in May 2009. Then the Fates—or was it God trying him, or is there a God and if there is, why does he dispense tests in such flippant fashion?–tucked their talons into McDermott.

“I felt like life was good and only was going to get better going into the summer of 2009. I had an 8-1 professional record,” he recalls. “I was coming off the biggest victory in my career, over Pagliara. I had plans of fighting for a regional title in the near future. I had just started a family. (Danny Jr. is now five years old.) I moved into one of the best neighborhoods in New Jersey, Fort Lee. Everything seemed like it was great. I was living ‘the American Dream.’ Then, in July I was at a family BBQ down the shore when I got the phone call about Arturo, I’ll never forget it. My heart sunk. I just couldn’t believe it. I had spoken to him a few weeks before he had left for Brazil. We had planned to get our boys together to meet in the summer when he got back. Both of our sons are the same age. It sunk in when I saw the reports on TV later that day. From that point on the downward spiral began. A week later my uncle who helped raise me had a severe heart attack while at physical therapy. He held on for a few days but didn’t survive. I watched him leave us as I held his hand. It was heart-breaking, I can’t describe it. He was my baseball and football coach as a kid. He taught me toughness in sports, to get up when knocked down and come back harder the next time. He was very proud to be from North Bergen, NJ. He said you had to be tough if you’re going to say your from that neighborhood.”

Danny would need that toughness, but more so from an emotional standpoint, as the flurries of hard to hear news, following the death of his mentor, Gatti, and his uncle, did a job on his head. Punches were way easier to absorb, shrug off, than this stuff. Broken nose seemed like a hangnail compared to this stuff…

“During this time I was having some turmoil at home with my significant other. We weren’t on the same page with a lot of things. The in-laws were involved too much, typical problems for many new families, I’d say.”

McDermott lost back to back fights, against Brian Miller (SD8) and Osnel Charles (UD6). It’s fair to say that the home front was not helping him gain the focus needed to train right, and be ready to rock on fight night. “I needed an escape and thought taking this fight against Miller was it,” he continues. “I was depressed after that. I didn’t care that people had said it was a great fight and I looked great. I lost. I guess I felt a bit better months later when some of the local writers voted it the 2010 New Jersey Fight of the Year.”

A second son, Kain, born to the missus provided a bump, but the dynamic at home was subpar. Moving in with her parents, in order to ‘save money to buy a house’ proved counterproductive.

“Things were so bad that I had made a terrible choice to use prescription pain killers after work so I could deal with (the atmosphere at home). Months later things got so bad that I had moved out. I refused to fight and argue in front of my babies. I had no idea were I was going to go. I didn’t tell my aunt, father or mother because I didn’t want them to worry or to get involved. I slept in the park a few nights until I spoke to my step-brother who let me live with him in the Bronx. I stayed there for four months. It was during this time that I took the fight with Osnel Charles. I was in no way ready for this fight. I was 165 a week before the fight which was contracted for 143 pounds.”

Fighting with the mother of his kids, feuding with a co-promoter, this is the sort of stuff that many of us fightwriters don’t know about when we analyze a fight, and focus solely on technique, and such. Being right mentally is maybe as key as being physically ready, right? Perhaps more, because you can be body beautiful but have a hidden head full of fear, doubt and insecurity.

“So now I was 8-3,” says the hitter, who will glove up at his new boxing ‘home away from home,’ the Philippines, in General Santos City on Sept. 13. “To make ends meet I was working as a day laborer, riding on the back of a pick up truck with immigrants. I couldn’t find work. The friends that were around when I was up and coming were nowhere to be found.” Another hard lesson learned for those that see their bandwagon get crowded with new friends who want to be in the mix when the parties getting cooking, but blow off cleanup duty. Who’s left picking soggy cigarette butts off the beer-soaked, butt-stained carpet?

“A few moths later my Aunt Maureen went in for minor surgery and never left the hospital. Her kidneys failed. I again watched another loved one take her last breath in front of me. This woman was my mom. She was there at every moment for me, supported me, loved me, raised me. At the time of her death we weren’t talking to each other for about month. We had gotten into an argument. Mind you she didn’t know about the problems I was having. She didn’t know about me living in the Bronx. So that was added sadness. I felt like a jerk after she died. I can totally value the lesson of never holding a grudge. We had a stupid little argument. Her birthday was the week after she had died—before she went in to the hospital I had planned to bring my kids over and surprise her and make up with her. I never got to do it.” More swift and severe combos whacked McDermott. Someone up there don’t like me, he had to think.

“Later that year I found out that my father had liver cancer. My brother and I stepped up and moved in to help him try to beat it. We took him to doctors, chemo, radiation. Tried to do the right thing. It was around this time that I linked up with Tommy Gallagher and Rich Komissar. I had a fight against Bryan Abraham in my hometown in North Bergen and won. I forgot what it felt like to win.”

Around the time he lost a majority decision to Carl McNickles at the MSG Theater, underneath the Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin main event, the phone brought more bad news. “It was about this time I got the phone call from my brother that my mother died of an apparent heart attack,” Danny said. “I couldn’t believe it. Here we were, trying to get ready for our father to check out and mom checks out on us first. It was a little more depressing, to say the least. ”

Real-deal friend Komissar helped him get a job as a maintenance worker and doorman in NYC, and chats with boxing lifer Gallagher helped him process the anxiety and sadness some. But another defeat was added to his record, when he lost to Andre Baker in North Carolina, in September 2012. Danny says his foe was 13 pounds heavier than him, and he agreed to fight him as an exhibition. He was surprised and irked when the fight showed up on Boxrec as his fifth loss, and is fighting the W with the aid of an attorney.

Then, another loss.

“Last September 9th my father lost his battle with cancer. He died at home with me and my brother by his bedside. I got to tell him everything I wanted to and it felt good to know that he knew how much he meant to me before he died.” But all those losses, in the ring, out of the ring, so much despair and death. McDermott was in rough shape, emotionally and physically. Listless mind, inert body, an American Dreamer reduced to sleepwalker. Eyes open but always clouded by the wafting fogs of despair that would only break for spells when the boys did something or said something cute.

“So here I was in January 2013, I was a fat out of shape mess. I was tipping the scales at 195. One morning I had terrible stomach pains and I didn’t pay mind to them until I was vomiting pure blood later in the day. I figured I should go to the hospital,” he said, making me almost grin, as I noted how sometimes “toughness” can be an impediment to sensibility.

“It was 4 AM. The doctor had informed me that my appendix burst hours earlier and ‘peritonitis’ set in, which infected my liver and kidneys. This is the same infection that killed Harry Houdini. The doc told me if I hadn’t sought medical attention I would have been dead within two hours. I had to go into surgery to remove the appendix. I thought this was it. I know how surgeries go, sometimes infections spread during surgery like what happened to my aunt. I cried thinking about my two kids and how they were upset when they learned about my father’s death and how he was ‘up with the angels.’ I spoke to my boys, who are 5 and 4, before surgery and his mom had told him that daddy was in hospital with a bad stomach ache. So they were both on the phone crying and telling me I can’t go to the angels, which started to make me cry. After I hung up the phone, I said a prayer to God that I would change my life around. I will do all the things I promised myself I would do if He got me through this.”

He started out on a regimen which is prototypical for a before and after weight loss product advertisement. “I reached out to my friend, trainer Mike Rodriguez who lives in Florida and works with today’s top MMA fighters from UFC and Bellator. I asked him if I could come down and train with him for two months. He said absolutely. Mike has worked with great boxers like Agnaldo Nunez, Freddie Cadena and Archak TerMeliksetian. He’s a great strategist when it comes to the fight game. So for two months I was in the gym two or three times a day, boxing, strength and conditioning and cardio. And of course diet was key as well.”

After two straight losses, McDermott got back on the bright side with a DQ1 win over Jesar Ancajas in the Philippines. Wait…in the Philippines? How’d that come about?

“My last fight was in Manny Pacquiao’s home town in General Santos City, Philippines, thanks to my dear friend Ryan Songalia (a writer and editor who grew up in NJ and now lives in the Philippines). The fans were very receptive to me. The children in the arena surrounded me and were coming to give me hugs, chanting my name from my ring walk till the end of the fight. It was just an overall humbling experience and it was even better after I won. I’m looking forward to going back for sure and winning this world championship.”

But wait…isn’t if for one of those cheapie titles, for a subpar sanctioning bodies, the WBU. That’s what I read on Twitter, anyway…

“Everyone has an opinion,” Danny says. “Especially the non-fighter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not under the impression that this WBU world title is on the same level of a WBC, WBA, IBF or WBO. I know what this “world” title is. It’s a stepping-stone title to that next level, but in the same respect it’s a portion of the light welterweight championship of the world, even if it’s a little portion. By no means do I think people, fans or writers should discredit or take away the accomplishment any fighter achieves when winning any championship. Many great fighters have held the WBU title. Granted, it was more popular in the mid-to late 90s and early part of this century when it was in England. This particular title is special to me because it is the “WBU Light Welterweight title.” The same world title and only world title “Irish” Micky Ward won. Shoot, they made a damn movie about him winning this title. It was also held by Ricky Hatton for years. So that right there makes it very meaningful for me. Let people talk s–t, if it was good enough for these two legendary fighters, it’s good enough for me.”

McDermott offers some insight which can be useful to us all. His words spill faster, hit harder, like he’s stepping it up on the heavy bag. “I don’t care about the opinions of anyone except my two little boys at home,” he says. “That’s my motivation to do what I’m doing now. For the people to say its a s–t title, go tell Micky Ward that or Ricky Hatton or even Mark Wahlberg and the producers of the movie ‘The Fighter.’ It would also highlight me being the first North Bergen, NJ native to win a “World Championship” since James J. Braddock, which is special to me for historic reasons. Those components make this very meaningful and the fact that I’m fighting in Manny Pacquiao’s home-town, thousands of miles from US soil for the title, makes it even more special. It will feel good winning it and bringing it to the US. Which is what I plan on doing.”

We all live our own memoir. We admit to just enough personal deficiencies to keep us honest, ideally, while deflecting enough so we’re able to get out of bed, some of us. Allow me to shift from a memoir-ish POV, to an unauthorized auto-bio slant, compliments of two men who McDermott relies on to dispense tough love when he needs it. And sometimes doesn’t want it, but needs it anyway. Trainer-manager-father figure Tommy Gallagher gave me the crack on the kid. Punches weren’t pulled…

“He’s got a lot of things going for him, but he also has that Irish tough guy syndrome,” Gallagher says. “He can do thing to get noticed besides getting his head bashed in.”

Gallagher, if you don’t know, has been in the game since diapers, basically. Hooking off the jab before potty-training kicked in…

Many of his types are long past their ‘see no evil’ period regarding boxing. They’ve seen too much, seen ring deaths, seen blatant theft of money and spirit, to look the other way, and not let some earned cynicism influence them. He says some guys, cough cough, would be better off spending less time sitting on stools and being caught in the whirl of mood lighting and amber liquids and the intoxication of impending successes.

“You can be a playboy and a drunk and be a writer. You can’t be a playboy and a drunk and be a fighter,” Gallagher says. By all accounts, McDermott can’t be reduced to be labeled those things, but it can be said he’s done his time chasing tail and ale…Remember how he said he “wanted to be as exciting as” Gatti? Fast and furious, inside ring, outside ring, that’s a young man’s game and it turns you old pretty quick. “I think he’s pretty bright,” Gallagher continues. “I think he will shine somehow, something will click and he’ll get on track. He could have maybe been special as a fighter…He deserves something, but he did it looking for shortcuts. You root for guys like that, hope they make it. Yeah, he could have been a great fighter, but he wasn’t respectful to the game. He was caught up in a sparring partner mentality. He had the,’The “On the Waterfront” thing, Terry Malloy, “I coulda’ been a contender, instead of a bum, which is what I am – let’s face it.””

Gallagher has seen too many Terrys and Dannys toss it away. So he has a street brand way of looking at people who waste potential. “I’d rather see someone go to jail, make sure their kids get fed, rather than be drunk on the street, or whatever. Anyway, I think it’ll happen for him, somehow, and I’ll be rooting for him.”

Mentor Rich Kommissar, son of Stanley Kommisar, who co-founded the fabled Starrett City gym in East New York, Brooklyn roots for McDermott, and since he has more hair to pull out than Gallagher, has lost a few strands in exasperation.

“Danny’s had a tough life… Irish twin, brought up in Hell’s Kitchen and North Bergen by a compilation of people,” Kommisar synopsizes. “He was a good amateur, Gatti sparring partner, but life always seemed to get in his way. He seems to finally be eliminating his excuses for failure and maybe starting gutting it out emotionally. Boxing-wise, he has a tough chin, is a good puncher. Danny has been a bit lazy in his training and likes to ‘hustle’ into his own situations, which frustrates me tremendously because I love him.”

This being boxing, where maybe the most useful trait to possess, both inside and outside the ring, is the ability to adapt, McDermott has had to wrap his brain around a couple foes as he looks to Saturday. On Sunday, he posted to Facebook this update for fans and friends.

“After 2 opponents pulling out for my fight, the promoter had no choice but to scramble and get a local fighter or scrap my fight,” he wrote. “So Ronnel Esparas 10-14 will be my opponent. Despite his record, Esparas, a crafty southpaw was a Filipino amateur standout who built up a pro record of 6-1 before going on a roller coaster of a career. He was also a sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao. I wish he looked better on paper to silence the critics that no doubt will come at me win or lose but it’s out of my hands at this point. I’m just coming to win my titles, and journeymen that have nothing to lose like Esparas are dangerous fighters. I’m expecting a tough fight regardless of his record.”

Kid knows tough fights…He has the ability, those close to him maintain, to succeed and it seems like the maturity has kicked in so that chapters yet to be written will feature a more upbeat tone. And doesn’t he deserve, if nothing else, the chance to have the last words here?

“Boxing HAS given me a reason to live, if I can tell my kids to shoot for their dreams, that they can be whoever they want to be in life, I want it to ring true,” McDermott says, indicating that he sees the door is open, and understands that the ride ain’t free. “If Daddy can do it, so can you. Nothing is impossible.”

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



Manuel Charr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Arum says Terence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Kaleidoscope of Boxers Guaranteed to Provide Action: Past and Present



Marvelous Marvin

To set the tone for this article, one needs only to watch the way in which Thomas Hearns came out in the first round against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He was ready to rock and roll as was his fearsome looking opponent. The ensuing unmitigated savagery was the quintessential illustration of full-tilt boogie.

For most boxing fans, the anticipation of an all-out action bout gets the chills running down spines faster than anything else. But not all, as some prefer a tactical or clinical fight that someone like Mikey Garcia can orchestrate and others –but not many—enjoy a defensive gem via a Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, or Pernell Whitaker. A few love a genuine blood fest that a Gabe Rosado-type can provide, and who doesn’t like seeing something special as in Sugar Ray Leonard, Kostya Tszyu, Terence Crawford or Vasiliy Lomachenko?

Chill-or-be-chilled types like Bob Satterfield and Tommy Morrison were super exciting. In this connection—a certain cadre of warriors, past and present, would come out charging and stalking as soon as the bell rang. Many demonstrated a marked disdain for defense and used a non-stop, no let-up pressure that discouraged their opponents, especially in the late rounds. The anticipation from the crowd was palpable because it sensed some form of destruction was on its way. The cheering would start during the instructions and sometimes did not let up until the concussive end.

This cadre included Rocky Marciano, Tony Ayala, Vicious Victor Galindez, Jeff Fenech, Roberto Duran, and Julio Cesar Chavez (who sapped the spirit of his opponents by ripping away at their mid-section). Also, Carl “The Cat”  Thompson , chill-or-be-chilled Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno (60-12-1 with 59 KOs),  Ron Lyle, the ultra-violent Edwin Valero, the appropriately nicknamed JulianMr KO” Letterlough, James “The Outlaw” Hughes and his mindboggling ability to snatch victory from certain defeat, Thai stalking monster Khaosai Galaxy (47-1),  the first version of George Foreman (pictured with the aforementioned Lyle), Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim, Ruslan  Provodnikov, Orlando “Siri” Salido, Marcos Maidana, Lenny Z, Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios, and Mickey Roman (the later four are still fighting but past their primes).

Others who presently incite the anticipation of something special include (but are not limited to) Naoya “Monster” Inoue (16-0), Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (24-0), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1), Alex Saucedo (27-0), and, of course, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1) who now has become slightly more tactical like his nemesis, Canelo Alvarez (50-1-1).

These stand out as representative.


A prime Mike Tyson—and the emphasis is on prime– was the epitome of a boxer who guaranteed action. One simply would not leave his or her seat when “Iron Mike” was doing his highlight reel thing, and his blowout of Michael Spinks punctuated his standing at the top of all-action type fighters, even if the action was usually non-mutual.

Joe Frazier came out smokin’ and would not let up until either he or his opponent were done. For the most part, decisions were not in Joe’s DNA and his left hook was as malicious as a hook can be. With Joe, you just sat back and enjoyed the action. Frazier, wrote boxing historian Tracy Callis,  “was a strong, ‘swarmer’ style boxer who applied great pressure on his opponent and dealt out tremendous punishment with a relentless attack of lefts and rights; His left hook was especially stiff and quick when delivered during his bob-and-weave perpetual attack; he fought three minutes per round and never seemed to tire.”

Carlos “Escopeta” (Shotgun) Monzon (87-3-9) was a powerful and rangy Argentinean killing machine, built like an iron rod. Some said he pushed his punches. Well if he did, he pushed 87 opponents to defeat. He also became only the second man to stop former three-time world champion Emile Griffith, turning the trick in the 14th round. Blessed with great and deceptive stamina and a solid chin, he seemingly was an irresistible force. He was unbeaten over the last 81 bouts of his career, a span of 13 years, and defended his title 14 times. “One would need to write a book in order to do justice to comparing a fighter of Carlos Monzon’s calibre to his fellow all-time greats,” wrote Mike Casey.

Arturo Gatti and Irish Micky Ward were the quintessential action fighters. One is gone amidst controversy, and hopefully the other will not pay a price for his many ring wars. With these two, just count up the Fights-of-the-Year and the rest is history. Suffice it to say that Gatti and Ward will be forever linked in boxing lore.

Until his fateful fight with Nigel Benn (another all-action fighter), Gerald McClellan was absolutely, positively, a stalking monster with dynamite in his gloves. It was ferocity and fury at its highest level and it was something to behold. Sadly, his fight with Benn left him permanently disabled; his story remains a dark stain on boxing. As Ian McNeilly notes, “one man’s finest hour was the end of another man’s life as he knew it.”

Michael “The Great” Katsidis’s all-action style made thrilling fights a lock. The Kat” was willing to take three to deliver one. It was blood and guts to the last drop. Whether he too exacted a heavy price for this style remains to be seen.

Lucia Rijker, AKA “The Dutch Destroyer,” lived up to her moniker and destroyed everyone in her path. Again, it wasn’t “if,” it was “when.”

Christy Martin (49-7-3) put female boxing on the map in the ‘90s and she did it by going undefeated in 36 straight encounters, running roughshod over her opponents as evidenced by her 25 wins by stoppage during this run. She also managed to steal the show from a Mike Tyson main event in 1996 during her memorable and bloody battle with Deirdre Gogarty.


Deontay Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” has a record of 40-0.  With 39 wins coming by KO—many in spectacular fashion, The “Bomber” brings with him that same sense of anticipation that Tyson did. It’s not if; it’s when and “when” can occur at any time. But unlike Tyson, there is a vulnerability that Luis Ortiz exposed that makes the excitement index go even higher.

Dillian Whyte (24-1) has seldom been in a dull affair. His vulnerability combined with his mode of attack ensures thrilling action and the possibility of a stoppage at any time. Unlike Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora, Whyte is consistently aggressive and dangerous.

Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2) has slowed down considerably but his recent stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse offers hope that he can still conjure up his exciting whirlwind style of fast in-an-out movements that allowed him to win multiple titles over several future Hall of Fame opponents between 2005 and 2011. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., if rumors are true, would allow Pac Man an opportunity to accomplish a number of extraordinary things including avenging a prior defeat and ruining Mayweather’s undefeated record. Time will tell.

Though he appears to have shot his wad, a prime Antonio Margarito was the classic stalk, stun, and kill fighter. Heck, he belonged on the Discovery Channel. His two blowouts of Kermit Cintron showed the “Tijuana Tornado” at his most brutal. His come-from-behind demolition of Miguel Cotto stands out for its drama and bloodletting—and subsequent speculative controversy.

David Lemieux (39-4) always brings the heat. His fights seldom end as scheduled. With KO power in both hands and a propensity to rehydrate by 20 pounds, he is the essence of danger and attendant excitement. “With the sheer power he carries, Lemieux will always have a shot at beating any middleweight, and he is almost always involved in good action fights,” says James Slater.

Amanda Serrano (35-1-1) is the only women’s boxer to win world titles in six divisions. The “Real Deal” is unique in that she has a high KO percentage (74 percent) which is rare for female boxers. Amanda is 120 seconds of guaranteed action for each round.


While Iron Mike Tyson is THE MAN, Matthew Saad Muhammad also warrants special billing as he embodied what this article is all about. Steve Farhood summed up the essence of Saad Muhammad with an observation that would be appropriate for his tombstone: “Eddie Gregory (Mustafa Muhammad) has a better jab, Marvin Johnson wields more power, James Scott does more sit ups. But, Muhammad’s heart is the size of a turnbuckle, and it anchors his title reign.”

Who did I leave out? Whose name or names would you add to this list?

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