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Chris Algieri Is Charismatic And Tough… But Is He A PPV Fighter?

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I get the notion that he is supremely confident and fearless. I don’t think he’s one of those fighters who are consumed with “what if I lose” like many other fighters are. My impression of him is that losing doesn’t lessen or define how he sees himself as a man. I’m speaking of Manny Pacquiao challenger Chris Algieri 20-0 (8) and that was the content of an e-mail I exchanged with a great friend whose boxing acumen I have as much regard for as anyone I’ve ever met in my life. And the scary thing about that is, he replied, “Frank, we see this one differently.”

However, I can’t shake the vibe that I get signifying he is authentically tough when I observe this Algieri. Those are my feelings and thoughts without ever having met or spoken to him. There’s just a quiet confidence about him that reminds me of other baby faced tough guys I’ve encountered over the years. I could be off on this one, but based on how he weathered the hurricane in the first round he was met with when he fought Ruslan Provodnikov in his last fight, I’m betting that if I’ve misjudged him, it’s not by much.

Algieri was captain of his high school wrestling team, as was my best friend in high school. Having befriended and worked out with a few wrestlers/grapplers, I know they’re pretty tough guys. He also has a black belt in Kempo karate, which is a striking art, and he was a professional kick boxer. I wouldn’t be fooled by his boy next door looks and demeanor, Algieri loves combat sports and training. I seriously doubt that he’s in awe of Manny Pacquiao. Respectful of him, absolutely, but he won’t come apart when he’s clocked in the mouth by him for the first time when they face each other on November 22. If there was any dog in Algieri, it would’ve surfaced during the first round against Provodnikov when he was hurt, beat up and knocked down. He weathered that storm and came back to out-box and out fight Provodnikov to win the bout by a point on my card. This is a fighter who has not been spoon fed or coddled like so many other guys who were pumped up because they were a good story and supposedly could fight.

“It’s genetic, I’m tall for the weight class,” Algieri said. “I’m not built to go in there and stand in front of a man and trade bombs. Why would I do that when I’ve got length, I’ve got range, I’ve got speed and I’ve got foot work and defense?”

The above indicates that Chris is a cerebral fighter and no doubt knows what he wants to do and understands his limitations. I like that about him. However, I also must be intellectually honest, and it must be pointed out, aside from some Mike Tyson opponents (Peter McNeeley and Kevin McBride), has there ever been any main event fighter on a PPV card since 1988 that has fewer qualifications than Algieri?

But you know what? I can’t say I have a problem with that for the following reason. If it wasn’t Algieri, it would’ve been someone else to play the warm body for Pacquiao in China. And the reason for that is, Pacquiao needs an opponent with a back story, which Chris definitely has. I also believe Bob Arum feels that he has to be careful regarding who he puts Pacquiao in with. And the perfect opponent is one that lacks experience and big power, but one who can capture the imagination of new boxing fans and not get blown out in a round or two. The fight is not a fraud by today’s standards because Algieri legitimately beat Provodnikov to win the WBO junior welterweight title.

PPV fights have become so common since the emergence of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao circa 2007-2008 that it’s almost ridiculous. Depending on how you break it down, starting with Mike Tyson’s first round knockout of Michael Spinks back in June of 1988, through Lewis-Holyfield II in November of 1999, there were 25 PPV cards. Starting with Lennox Lewis’s second round knockout over Michael Grant in April of 2000, there have been 45 PPV bouts concluding with Saul Alvarez’s split decision over Erislandy Lara this past summer. Let’s forget about the 1980 and 1990s, and take into account 2000-2014. That’s 45 PPV cards and 90 fighters who fought the main event. And of those 90 fighters, only Kevin McBride who fought Mike Tyson in his last fight was less accomplished than Algieri, and you have to go back to 1995 and inject Tyson opponent Peter McNeeley to find another less credentialed fighter than Chris who was part of the main event of a PPV card.

I know that’s harsh, but I think Chris is honest enough that he would probably agree if he matched his record with the fighters who made up the PPV cards stated above. I respect his work and what he has accomplished as a boxer and title holder, but in an earlier era, I don’t think Pacquiao-Algieri would go over as a PPV attraction. But it does today because Mayweather and Pacquiao have conditioned the public to accept every time they fight it’s assumed it’s PPV and that signifies their opponent is worthy. And even that’s starting to wane, as evidenced by Arum hurrying Pacquiao off to China with the hope of cultivating an Asian following.

Let me state it once more, I’m not ripping Algieri, just stating the way it is. And by this time next year, there will probably be a fighter representing the “B” side of a PPV card that makes Chris Algieri’s resume look like Roberto Duran’s. And most likely he’ll be an opponent of Mayweather or Pacquiao. That’s the way boxing is trending. One of these days fans will wake up and realize that Pacquiao and Mayweather are really getting over on them having to pay extra to see them every time they fight regardless of who the fighter is in the other corner.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

—- Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank

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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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