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A Wrinkle in Time

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Three months ago, Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins raised his gnarled hand to fight the most dangerous light heavyweight on the planet. Many wondered why. Those who did so aloud found themselves rebuked by a serious man: “Have you been paying attention to my career?” I have. His career is a study in bootstrap pride and star-flung ambitions. One of his ambitions is to surpass the achievements of the Ursa Major of geriatric pugilists, Archie Moore.

Twenty years ago he was a workman toiling in the long shadows of Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney. Few saw him for who and what he was. The truth of him was obscured by more than an executioner’s hood or an alien mask. What is the truth of him? Ask him and you’ll be in for mind-bending misdirection. He knows better than you that words don’t matter. The answer has been unveiled, gradually, since he lost the middleweight crown at the ripe old age of forty. It’s in a remarkable campaign that saw him seize the light heavyweight crown at age forty-six, lose it at forty-seven, and spend the last seventeen months spanking top-ranked contenders twenty years his junior. But it’s his decision to face Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev two months before turning fifty that would make Moore tip his top hat.

“Alien vs. Krusher” was televised live from Atlantic City on HBO Saturday night. I wasn’t about to watch it from the couch. I put on a suit and boarded an Amtrak train at Boston.

The fellow traveler I shared a space with was too riveted to an iPad to acknowledge my greeting. He was watching a college football game, drinking Bloody Marys like my Camaro drinks gasoline, and cheering at turnovers with increasing bravura. Once, glancing up from Liebling’s essays, I found him in a fighter’s pose -his right fist cocked as if. He looked closer to fifty than me, but probably knew not a whit about Bernard Hopkins and what he was risking and reaching for that very day.

My seat faced backwards. For a sentimental sort who prefers books to iPads, this gives the unwelcome feeling of being pulled kicking and screaming into the future like a reluctant astronaut. I looked out the window at the things receding behind us. At Central Falls, Rhode Island a prison appeared, sprawled behind fences and great concentric circles of barbed wire. Hopkins history. The future fighter was convicted of armed robbery when he was seventeen and his name became a number. Inmate #Y4145 spent five years at Pennsylvania’s Graterford Prison thinking about life and all that comes with it. Archie Moore also did time after stealing seven dollars from a street car. Both counted those lost years as a turning point. Both found an older mentor inside, a necessary man who showed them the ropes and blessed the boxing ring and their place in it. “It was then that I made up my mind,” Moore said. “There were two ways to go, you understand, and only two.” One was surrender and single-file between cinderblocks. The other was hope and what Moore called “the glass mountain.” Hopkins knows what that is. Many who came out of big-city housing projects will tell you it’s the black man’s experience -two steps up to slide four steps down, scratching and clawing in a desperate effort “to touch that peak with outstretched fingertips.”

Moore and Hopkins made vows to climb.

It took years, but they proved their mettle as men and champions. And they wouldn’t let the formative past recede out of reach. They made it a point to visit reform schools and penitentiaries to place a strong hand on the shoulders of outcasts. They brought hope. In the early 1990s, Hopkins actually held a training camp at Graterford. “I’ve seen how Bernard inspires the inmates,” a promoter said. “I’ve seen their eyes light up. After sparring, he’ll sit down and talk to them for hours.”

I had a five-hour train ride to think about the fight and all that comes with it. Images strangely fitting flashed by the window; at times like archetypes, at times like credits in a movie trailer. Military trucks and other objets d’guerre at ease in Pawtucket and rubble strewn along the tracks in Providence called to mind the Russian puncher. Antique tractors of no use to anyone anymore, half-sunk in the ground. Somewhere near New Haven I saw cars piled like metal corpses in a dirt morgue, tires stripped, hoods open-mouthed. Only the graffiti had vitality. Crossing into New York City brought plenty -of graffiti, not vitality. Some of the tags took on a power of suggestion that a subtle-minded theorist like Hopkins would not miss: “Solo” “Shock” “Bard” “Stoic” “Distort” “Duzzit” “Ready”. One was not so subtle. Toward the end of a sun-splashed tunnel, twenty-feet of sharp angles and pastel green went racing by that read “Alien Intelligence.”

It got my hopes up.

In 1952, A.J. Liebling boarded this train at Penn Station when he covered Jersey Joe Walcott’s world title defense against Rocky Marciano in Philadelphia. Across the aisle from him was a contingent of Brocktonians laying 5 to 1 odds on their hero. “They might have been either union officials or downtown businessmen,” he observed. They were on the train with me, sixty-two years later, only the subject was less stirring than a championship bout and less historic than Hopkins’ battle against two destroyers in Time and Kovalev. “The Eagles lose their quarterback. The Giants can’t get out of their own way,” said one. “They’re supposed to have this lightning quick offense and they’re fumbling on their own line!” said another. I yawned.

At 4:10pm, I disembarked with Liebling’s book where Liebling did at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Before boarding the New Jersey Transit to Atlantic City, I scanned the concourse for some tribute to Hopkins, a statue maybe. I found one, though it was a memorial to other warriors from a greater war. “Angel of the Resurrection” by Walker Hancock features a forty-foot bronze Archangel holding up a fallen soldier. It was dedicated in August 1952. Liebling waddled past it only a month later on his way to the Municipal Stadium where he would witness “old man Walcott” collapse at Marciano’s feet. In September of 1955, he would witness the Ole’ Mongoose himself in the same undignified position. Both fell and could not get up.

I saw Youth deck Age yet again when Kovelev slung a right hand like an iron ball on a chain. It landed, literally and figuratively, on the temple of the Philadelphian.

But the Philadelphian got up.

Flying Objects
Kovalev’s tendency to sling first and think later was tempered by a masterful strategy. He began with a statement of power to keep Hopkins at bay. It worked. After Hopkins was decked, he adjusted his distance from the perimeter (only a half-step away from Kovalev’s chin) to just off the perimeter (a full step outside Kovalev’s reach). This adjustment was made early and told the story of the fight.

By round five, Nazim Richardson knew what was happening. He saw very human impulses of self-preservation. “You’re not trusting your weapons,” he told Hopkins in the corner. “Relax, get inside, and smother.” But Hopkins could not relax and had no inclination for close encounters of that kind. Kovalev only had to feint to send thirty years of drills into complete disarray. Jabs likewise forced the thinking veteran to think again while a debilitating body attack depleted his already suspect energy reserves. What had been well-timed invasions against lesser opponents became infrequent forays against Kovalev. He seemed content to hover.

Hopkins noted Kovalev’s strategy of stepping out of range after landing his punches, though there was more to it. When Kovalev wasn’t stepping back, he was finishing his combinations with a left hook or a jab. It’s called “finishing on your left” and Marciano’s trainer recommended it because it naturally returns the conventional fighter to the ready position. It does something else too; a left ‘going away’ is a surprise to opponents. A big right at the end of a combination registers as an exclamation point, a signal that the worst is over, and most fighters will follow it with their own attack. They don’t expect a left to pop them on the nose. Not even Hopkins could figure it out.

Plan B from Outer Space
Hopkins was forced to reconfigure his whole motherboard. As winning became more and more remote, his objective was reduced and he found new answers to new questions. He would do what neither Walcott nor Moore could do against Marciano. He would take him the distance. Kovalev, who had yet to stand around in his own sweat after twelve or even ten rounds waiting for judges’ scorecards to be read, would have to tonight. Hopkins switched into defensive overdrive and displayed a vast array of old ring foils to find an advantage. In the third round he landed a left hook to the body and at the same time swung his right foot behind Kovalev’s front foot, jammed his forearm under Kovalev’s armpit, and pushed him down. Then he raised his hands in hopes that the referee would take the cue and start a count. It was an underhanded version of the Fitzsimmons Shift, which is over a century old.

In the eighth round, Hopkins was hurt by a right hand. He sagged and stumbled like a septuagenarian in a stairwell-and what does he do? He does what he did in the first round when he got knocked down-he glances down at the canvas. It was a ploy to stunt Kovelev’s adrenalin-fueled rush with a suggestion that perhaps, just perhaps, he he’d slipped.

In the tenth round Hopkins surprised everyone. He gritted his dentures and landed a right blast that repeated all the way to the nosebleeds. Kovalev’s leg shuddered and the Russians seated near me jumped up and spilled their vodka. “Rossiya! Ataka!” they hollered as their hero resumed control of the bout.

Bernard Hopkins finished the fight going to toe-to-toe with Time the Destroyer and getting the worst of it. The crowd roared. I saw the glass mountain. I saw an old black man scratching and clawing in a desperate effort to touch that peak with outstretched fingertips.

……

It was 3:26am Sunday when the New Jersey Transit pulled into Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Eleven hours earlier, I hadn’t noticed its magnificence as a work of architecture. A coffered ceiling looms a hundred feet overhead and six Corinthian columns stand at the main entrances. The design of the building combines Neoclassicism with Art Deco -old with new.

With two hours to kill before the arrival of my Boston-bound train, I lingered with the low echoes in the main concourse. The chandeliers were dimmed and it was almost deserted. Spectral shoes clacked now and then on marble floors. An off-duty conductor was stretched out on a bench, snoring like three men in a chamber.

I wandered underneath Walker Hancock’s war memorial and was reading the inscription when I sensed a presence over my shoulder. An old man stood there gazing up at the angel and the fallen warrior. I didn’t hear him approach. His skin was the color of good coffee; gray mutton chops graced his face. He was smiling, as if he knew the answers.

And then he was gone.

 


Resources include Robert Seltzer’s article “‘E xecutioner’ Visits Prison” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/3/92); Archie Moore’s “glass mountain” found in his autobiography Any Boy Can: The Archie Moore Storywith Leonard Pearl (Prentice-Hall, 1971); Charley Goldman recommendation to “finish on your left” was found in A.J. Liebling’s The Sweet Science (Viking, 1956). Special thanks to Jason McMann for coming through in a pinch.

Springs Toledo is the author of the newly-released book, The Gods of War: Boxing Essays (Tora,2014,$25).Contact him at scalinatella@hotmail.com for signed copies.

 

 

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Johnny Bey and the Glory Days of Boxing at the Great Western Forum

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Veteran boxing publicist John Beyrooty was inducted into the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame last week. This particular hall of fame is the third boxing hall of fame devoted primarily to boxers and boxing personalities who energized the Los Angeles boxing scene. Its antecedents were the California Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

With this latest honor, John Beyrooty (Johnny Bey to his friends and co-workers) hit the trifecta. He’s been recognized by all three. For good measure, Beyrooty received the 2016 Good Guy Award by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Beyrooty’s induction called to mind the days when the Great Western Forum (now back to being called the plain old Forum) was a beehive of boxing. Wealthy real estate investor Dr. Jerry Buss then owned the joint as well as the arena’s signature tenant, the Los Angeles Lakers. During the Buss years (1982-1999), there were 302 GWF shows, most of which were held on a Monday. They aired on Prime Ticket, a regional cable network in which Buss had an ownership stake.

Beginning in 1989, Johnny Bey was Jerry Buss’s PR guy for the fights.

JOHN BEYROOTY, NEWSPAPERMAN

A little background. For folks of a certain vintage, John Beyrooty will always be associated with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. At one time the largest circulation afternoon paper in America, the paper, which could trace its roots to 1903, went belly-up 29 years ago. The last issue rolled off the press on Nov. 2, 1989.

The Herald-Examiner had a great sports section. The rival LA Times could boast of Jim Murray, a wonderful wordsmith, and several other notables, but no one bought the Times just for the sports section. Three Herald-Examiner sportswriters – columnists Allan Malamud and Melvin Durslag and Bob Mieszerski, the horse racing guy, were snatched away by the Times during the end days of the Herald-Examiner.

Beyrooty, who grew up in the LA suburb of Downey (Herald-Examiner sports editor Bud Furillo was a neighbor) joined the paper as a copy boy. After five years in this capacity he became a writer, assigned to the boxing beat. “They gave me boxing because no one else wanted it,” he recalled in a 2010 interview with former Herald-Examiner colleague Doug Krikorian.

The first boxing show Beyrooty covered, on March 15, 1979, at the fabled Olympic Auditorium, was also the first boxing show he ever saw. Alberto “Superfly” Sandoval opposed Eddie Logan in the main event.

During his days as a copy boy Beyrooty moonlighted as a parking lot attendant at the old LA Sports Arena, a job he kept for a time after becoming a boxing writer. One night he worked a double shift, so to speak. In the fashion of Superman changing his costume, he ripped off the colorful shirt that parking lot attendants were required to wear and dashed into the arena to take his assigned seat in the section reserved for the ringside press.

FORUM BOXING, SNAPSHOTS

Twelve fighters promoted by Forum Boxing have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. For some, the Great Western Forum was their nursery. Juan Manuel Marquez graduated from a preliminary boy to a headliner here. Oscar De La Hoya made his pro debut at the Great Western Forum. John Beyrooty is credited with giving Oscar his nickname, “Golden Boy.”

At the Great Western Forum, good things came in small packages. The great flyweight Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson had most of his early fights in and around his native Washington DC, but came to the fore at the Great Western Forum where he made 14 appearances. Ask John Beyrooty and he would tell you that Mark Johnson in his prime was pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world. An even smaller man, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez, made the GWF turnstiles hum. “Chiquita” was responsible for five of the 10 largest crowds.

In 1993 and again in 1995, Humberto Gonzalez was involved in the Fight of the Year. His opponents were Michael Carbajal and Saman Sorjaturong.

The first of these fights, co-promoted with Top Rank, was actually held in Las Vegas. Forum Boxing occasionally took its act on the road. This practice became more common when Forum Boxing president John Jackson took a second job as an assistant football coach at UNLV under his longtime friend and mentor John Robinson.

A bizarre moment in the shoddy history of UNLV football – engendering some outrage but mostly horse laughs — occurred on Nov. 2, 2002, when Coach Jackson disappeared with three minutes remaining in a game that was hanging in the balance. Marco Antonio Barrera, who was then the ace of the dwindling Forum Boxing stable, was fighting Johnny Tapia up the road at the MGM Grand. Jackson didn’t want to miss the fight. (UNLV prevailed without him, upending Wyoming 49-48 in overtime).

The Gonzalez-Sorjaturong fight was one of many great wars staged at the Great Western Forum during the Buss years. Among the others, two in particular stand out. The June 27, 1987, match between neighborhood rivals Frankie Duarte and Alberto Davila, won by Duarte (TKO 10), was a savage bloodbath. Two years later, in the first of their three meetings, Paul Banke and Daniel Zaragoza, went hammer and tongs for all 12 rounds. Zaragoza retained his WBA 122-pound title on a split decision.

The April 26, 1993, bout between defending WBA 130-pound champion Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez and Raul Perez warrants a citation as the most disappointing. The highly-anticipated match was over in 28 seconds. A wicked cut wrought by an accidental head butt forced the stoppage.

No arena is going to host that many fights without some rancid decisions. The worst of the worst was the May 20, 1991 match between Victor Rabanales and Greg Richardson. The crowd went berserk when the decision went to Richardson. All three judges were appointed by the WBC. Richardson was promoted by Don King. ‘Nuff said.

JOHN BEYROOTY, FIGHT PUBLICIST

Jerry Buss reportedly lost money with his boxing venture but he wasn’t the sort to pinch pennies. The program that Beyrooty assembled for each show – “Fight Night at the Forum” – was produced on thick, glossy paper stock at considerable cost. Inside the publication, at its core, Beyrooty analyzed the main event, breaking down the principals in terms of their fighting styles and other variables. In most issues, Beyrooty reprised his old Herald-Examiner weekly notes column, a wide-ranging potpourri of fight news and rumors. At his heart, John Beyrooty was still a newspaperman.

The programs – a complete set would be a cool collector’s item — were also chock full of eye candy. The late Dr. Buss had a fine eye for the ladies and that’s putting it mildly as he was in Hugh Hefner’s league as a playboy. The Great Western Forum was continually running tournaments for ring card girls (fans got to choose their favorite from each pod) and full pages were devoted to the lineup.

After the end of his run with Forum Boxing, Beyrooty joined Brener-Zwikel & Associates, a sports public relations firm. He did considerable traveling while handling the SHOWTIME BOXING account, including a trip to China for a fight that was cancelled at the 11th hour. Nowadays, Johnny Bey has been scarce around the office as he deals with a myriad of nagging little health issues. Hopefully this is only a hiccup and he will be back to full speed very soon.

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The Avila Perspective Chap. 18: Timekeepers, Pension and Coming Fights

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Mike North works in the underbelly of the boxing world in a state that sees more fight business in a month than other states see in an entire year.

If this was the military, he might be a radar technician or man the sonar in a nuclear-powered submarine.

But this is prizefighting, and in his role, North tirelessly works with a stopwatch as the official timekeeper. It’s a role that he’s performed for hundreds of fights through two decades in the state of California.

North will be inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame for his many years spent as an official timekeeper for the California State Athletic Commission. The ceremony takes place on Saturday Oct. 20, at the Sportsman’s Lodge in the Studio City area of Los Angeles.

Others being inducted are Michael Carbajal, Chango Carmona, Frankie Liles, Guty Espadas Sr. and Guty Espadas Jr., Jose Celaya and others.

As a youngster in Kansas City, Missouri who loved boxing, North began as an amateur boxer and frequented the nearby gym to learn the fistic art.

“The people training me said you’re not very good, why don’t you be a writer or photographer. So, I became one in 1990,” said North, adding that he moved to California and began working first as a photographer and then as a writer for various sports publications, including a magazine called Ring Sports.

Through his work as a journalist, he began meeting ring officials and was persuaded to apply for a position as a boxing official for the state of California.

“I got to meet a lot of officials, and Dick Young was a Missouri boy like me. He recommended to me to be an official in 1998,” said North who, because of an abundance of referees and judges, opted for the role as a timekeeper.

He’s been working the fights as a CSAC timekeeper ever since.

“One of my first shows on TV was for Julio Cesar Chavez at Staples Center. That was one of my first shows. I was happy to do that show. The boxing legend and his son made his pro debut but he (senior) got beat up and later retired. So, I got to time his second to last fight,” said North of the fight that took place in May 2005.

Along the way, North has worked many of the biggest prize fights in Southern California, including the Oscar De La Hoya and Steve Forbes fight at the StubHub Center in May 2008. That fight drew more than 30,000 fans into the stadium where the LA Galaxy and LA Chargers now play.

Another memorable moment for North occurred with one of his favorite fighters, Bernard Hopkins in 2016. That title contest turned out to be the Philadelphia fighter’s final prize fight.

“I was timekeeper when Bernard Hopkins got knocked out of the ring,” said North, who is married and works about 30 fight cards a year. “That night during a championship fight, he gets knocked out of the ring. He’s got 20 seconds to get back into the ring. I start counting. One or two of the inspectors helped him out. Once they touched Hopkins the fight was over and I finished counting.”

That fight emphasizes just one of the many duties of a timekeeper. Once any fight card begins, a timekeeper has to manage the clock, bell and whistle for the ring announcers, referees, and television when it’s involved.

It’s a tedious adventure and not meant for everyone.

“The difficulties come in doing it when I’m tired. Talk about the fundamentals, the hardest thing is having to stay focused during the entire fight from beginning to end. In a big 12 round fight, it’s 50 minutes just timekeeping and focusing, maintaining discipline of timing the rounds and rests and counting the knockdowns. Those are the biggest demands for a timekeeper,” said North, who works as an aerospace engineer during the day.

“It’s not as easy as people think. Especially if you are doing live TV like HBO, there are all kinds of distractions. Sometimes when you are on live TV it adds a little bit of pressure to you.”

Experiencing that pressure and dealing with it over the last two decades has prompted California State Athletic Commission executives to appoint North as an advisor for new recruits joining the ranks of timekeepers.

The first advice he gives is purchasing a reliable stopwatch, whistle, bell and black and white striped shirt.

“I recommend they buy a stopwatch that has a certificate of calibration from a manufacturer and costs over $25. You need to have two to four stopwatches in case one goes out,” says North, who has more than one of everything.

“Once, I had a whistle with a corked ball inside of it. I was doing a fight at the Playboy Mansion and the corked ball blew out the gap of the whistle. It didn’t impact the fight. But a malfunction can impact the fight if you are not prepared.”

North is always prepared.

“It is difficult to find people that want to do timekeeping, stay with it and like to do it,” said Andy Foster, Executive Director for CSAC. “We don’t have that many. It’s a real skill to picking up that count, to working with the referee and having the focus and instincts. There is a real skill to it.”

After 20 years of working along the boxing rings throughout Southern California, the veteran timekeeper realizes a need for more official clock watchers has arrived. But his time is not over as he works with new recruits.

“It has a lot of rewards that go with it. We have the best seats in the world for boxing events,” said North, who also keeps time for MMA bouts. “It’s very rewarding because you get to meet a lot of great people.”

Many of those people will be at the Sportsman’s Lodge when North receives his entry into the California Boxing Hall of Fame.

Time really does go fast when you are having fun.

 

California Pension for boxers

“A pension fund established for retired boxers has reached a total of more than $5 million dollars,” said Andy Foster, Executive Director for CSAC.

Any retired boxer over the age of 50 who fought more than 75 rounds with no more than a three-year break, or 10 rounds a year for at least four years without a three-year break is eligible for money due.

The pension fund was established in 1982 to help retired prizefighters in their older years.

A list will be provided soon and a future story on this will also be available.

Downtown L.A. and Indio on Thursday night

In the old business district of downtown Los Angeles, a boxing show takes place at the Exchange LA, located at 618 S. Spring Street, L.A. 90014. PR Sports is putting on the show that features Gloferson Ortizo, Adan Ochoa, and Damien Lopez among others. A couple of years ago it’s where current budding prospect Ryan “The Flash” Garcia made his first American debut as a professional.

It’s a solid fight card.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information call (310) 315-0525.

It can be seen on the CBS Sports website.

About 120 miles east another boxing card takes place.

Fantasy Springs Casino hosts a Golden Boy Promotions fight card showcasing Ireland’s Jason Quigley (14-0) against Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez (34-9) in a middleweight clash set for 10 rounds.

Quigley defends the NABF title he won in March 2017. During that fight against Glen Tapia he broke his hand and was out of action for a year. He returned this past March and won by knockout on a Massachusetts card.

Hernandez, 39, is a veteran originally from Mexico City who fights out of L.A. His best victory came against Alfredo Angulo two years ago. He’s crafty and doesn’t take chances.

ESPN2 will televise the Golden Boy card.

Friday in Ontario

Thompson Boxing Promotions rolls out another boxing card at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For 18 years this Southern California promotion group has been uncovering hidden jewels. Its latest is WBA super bantamweight champion Danny Roman, who is expected to be present at the fight card this Friday, Oct. 19.

Roman will be introduced to the crowd. Last week, the Los Angeles-based prizefighter knocked out England’s Gavin McDonnell in the 10th round in Chicago. It was his third successful defense of the title he grabbed in Japan a year ago.

A primary reason I’ve covered these fight cards has been Thompson Boxing’s ability to discover talent like Roman and many others.

Saturday in Las Vegas

WBA middleweight titlists Ryoto Murata (14-1, 11 KOs) defends the title against Rob Brant (23-1, 16 KOs) in a 12 round clash on Saturday Oct. 20, at the Park Theater MGM in Las Vegas. The Top Rank card will be televised by ESPN.

Murata, 32, doesn’t have time to waste at his age. He needs to go after the big guns, whoever they are. As the holder of the minor version of the title, he’s got to keep his place in line. And like most Japanese fighters, he’s not shy about taking chances.

Brant, 28, will be fighting an upper tier opponent for the second time. His only loss was to former WBA and WBO world light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer in first round action in the World Boxing Super Series 168-pound tournament.

With Canelo now holding the WBC title and fighting for the WBA super middleweight title in December after defeating Gennady Golovkin by decision, the middleweight division is wide open.

In the semi-main event, a super lightweight match set for 10 rounds, Russia’s Maxim Dadashev (11-0,10 KOs) meets the ultimate gatekeeper in Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (33-6-1, 24 KOs).

Dadashev, 28, has knocked out almost all of his opponents, so the brain trust at Top Rank wants to see if he can truly fight someone who does not go down easily.

DeMarco, 32, is a rangy former world titlist from Tijuana who has warred against the best punchers in the business, including wins over Jorge Linares, John Molina and Mickey Roman. He doesn’t quit. He didn’t quit against one of the best punchers of all time, Edwin Valero, in that fighter’s last pro fight.

It’s a perfect test for Dadashev. It’s also a good fight for DeMarco to prove that he deserves another world title shot.

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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions Announce Fight Deal With DAZN at MSG

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At a press conference today at Madison Square Garden, professional boxing’s biggest star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions announced they signed a massive deal, reportedly a more than $365 million dollar contract, with the streaming company DAZN.

“I’ve always said when one door closes, another one opens,” said Alvarez in front of a crowd at the Garden and also to those watching it streamed live.

That door was blasted wide open with the announcement that Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotion fighters will be included on future DAZN streamed boxing cards in a five-year deal.

“Obviously for us it’s a major day. Live sports are undergoing a major change,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy. “We’ve made a deal with the sports leaders in the sport of boxing DAZN.”

Gomez added that Canelo will perform 11 fights with DAZN exclusively.

“He will now have the richest sports contract in sports history,” said Gomez, adding that 10 future DAZN events will feature other Golden Boy fighters too.

It’s been a topsy-turvy month, especially after HBO announced two weeks ago that they were moving out of the boxing business after 40 years. Boxing had brought that television network its success and now it is bailing out.

Streaming has become the new source for watching live boxing, but it still needed a major star to bring viewers. What bigger name than Canelo.

“Canelo was the answer,” said DAZN.

“Canelo has sold 3.6 million buys for three quarters of a billion dollars. His next 11 fights will be exclusively on DAZN,” said John Skipper, chairman of DAZN adding that Alvarez’s next fight will be free. “Today represents a major shift in providing the top major sports content.”

Super middleweight title fight

Alvarez, who recently defeated long reigning middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin to win the WBC and WBA middleweight titles, will now face WBA super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15. It will be streamed free to entice fans to subscribe to DAZN which also streams MMA and other sports events.

Fielding, who fights out of Liverpool, England, looked like a basketball player standing next to the redhead Alvarez on the stage.

“I’ve worked all my life to get to the world stage. Now I’m fighting the biggest star in boxing. It’s every fighter’s dream to fight in Madison Square Garden,” said Fields. “I’ve watched him over the years. I’m going to give everything.”

Eddie Hearn, whose promotion company Matchroom Boxing represents Fielding and heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, is also a partner with DAZN.

“We had a mission to make sure that the DAZN platform worked and is a success. We launched that platform with Anthony Joshua and now with Golden Boy they bring Canelo Alvarez to the landscape,” said Hearn. “Now with Joshua and Canelo on DAZN the whole game is about to change. This is just the beginning for the DAZN platform believe me.”

No more pay-per-view

Golden Boy Promotions announced that the deal to showcase its other fighters begins in early 2019 and will feature 10 high caliber fight cards. No longer will its fight be on pay-per-view. Instead the low monthly cost of about $5 dollars a month will be the only charge for all of the fights on DAZN that will be streamed in not only the U.S., but also the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Canada and Japan.

Other sports promotions include Matchroom Boxing cards and MMA by Bellator and Combate Americas.

“It’s been many years that I wanted to fight here. I’m here and I want to give a great fight to the fans in New York,” said Alvarez at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. “The most important thing is the fans can enjoy this fight at a very low price.”

Golden Boy will also co-produce the televised events and social media presentations. The deal will also include 7,000 hours of Oscar De La Hoya’s library.

De La Hoya was elated by the new partnership.

“This is easily one of the best days in the growing history of Golden Boy Promotions,” said De La Hoya, the CEO and chairman of Golden Boy Promotions.

A new page is turned for the sport of boxing and a redhead named Canelo Alvarez is leading the way.

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