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Provodnikov Still in Running For Pacquiao Fight

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Don’t block off that date and tussle in your head just yet, boxing addicts.

The Ruslan Provodnikov-Lucas Matthysse potentiality, a lead dog as potential Fight of the Year for 2015, IF it comes off, is in the works. But there is still a distance to go, and terrain to deal with, and possibly shifting terrain at that…so we should all hold our horses a bit, I think.

That’s according to boy wizard manager Vadim Kornilov, who helps steer the Ruslan ship. He checked in from sunny Cali, as we battened down the hatches in the Northeast for a possibly historic snowstorm. The reality of that snowfall fell short here in Brooklyn, and reminded me to not get ahead of myself and assume things will be. “The fight is not a “go,” Kornilov told me. “We are negotiating. It’s very possible. Oscar wants to make the big fights so that’s good.”

Oscar is De La Hoya, seeking to maintain and grow and clarify his place in the promotional sphere, and getting a thumbs up from the boxing heads with his stated desire to have the best fight the best. He has Matthysse under the Golden Boy banner, and seems quite keen to set up this clash of two men who operate under the destruct and destroy mantra.

“That fight is dangerous for everybody,” Kornilov told me, correctly noting that the stakes are high for a Ruslan vs. The Machine rumble, with the loser, hell, and the winner, possibly, leaving a piece of themselves in whatever ring they might be operating in.

Kornilov said that Team Matthysse would like for a world title, maybe the WBO’s, to be up for grabs. That WBO 140 pound strap is being fought over by deal-makers, who see the vacant slot—made so because the ‘BO boys stripped Chris Algieri of the same when he decided to give a shot at ’47 and Manny Pacquiao—as a thing to be coveted. (I have to guess and think that Algieri gets a shot at re-gaining that belt, but that’s in a “fair world,” and hellooo, anyone here think this world is FAIR? Lol.) Kornilov thinks fans would rather see Provo and Matt tangle for a vacant crown than, say, Terence Crawford, the current WBO 135 champ, against No. 1 rated Chris Algieri, but this is a matter of politics, so there will be behind the scenes machinations, and we won’t be privy to the sausage making there…

So, in other words, there are things still to be ironed out. And, don’t forget, there are other shoes to drop in the next week, or two weeks, which could cause a massive reshuffling of what we THINK is the likely near-term landscape. If Mayweather surprises us and takes the Manny fight, then I don’t think a Provodnikov-Matthysse fight gets impacted. But what if Floyd does a Cotto sequel? Then Manny needs his Plan B. If Plan B is Amir Khan, and terms don’t get hashed out, for whatever reason, then he needs a Plan C.

About Plan C…

“There is still a chance for Pacquiao vs. Provodnikov,” Kornilov informed me. “We are still in the mix.” And but of course, a date with The Congressman would take precedence over a violent waltz with The Machine. Kornilov and me and previously, Freddie Roach, and then Pacman advisor Michael Koncz have all come out and said Jesse Vargas isn’t a viable option as a Pacman foe right now. Provo is a name, guarantees a rumble-type atmosphere, so yes, I think we shouldn’t assume he is out of the running if Floyd rhymes with avoid wants to kick the Manny fight down the road some more. Along those lines…Kornilov and me both agreed that a quite possible scenario is this: Floyd plays out his two fights remaining on his Showtime/CBS deal. He then puts himself up for bidding, and the bidding war for what he would promise to include a fight with Manny would be stupid-huge. He has some ludicrous leverage there and in this business age, leverage is prized and utilized much more so over what is sought by the fans, or done on “principle” or for pride purposes.

“Freddie supports the idea of a Pacquiao-Provodnikov fight,” Kornilov continued. “Jessie Vargas as a foe? Not at all, I don’t think. You know Ruslan wouldn’t be running! So, a Provodnikov vs. Lucas fight is still contingent upon what Pacquiao does.

You heard Brandon Rios bring up the name of “the Russian” as a possible, but Kornilov is skeptical about his true desire. “I hope his promoter and manager, Arum and Cameron Dunkin, are as manly as him. I think Dunkin is against it. I think he’s afraid Provodnikov will finish off Rios.” (Note: I’ve tried to get Dunkin on the phone, to no avail, for months now, so I’d be happy to discuss the matter with him, if he decides to weigh in. Same goes for De La Hoya. Several requests to his people for him to chat with me have been curbed so if and when I hear from him I will happily add his two cents. BTW, I note these tidbits not for no reason, but to inform you readers that I try to do the right thing and get people on the record whenever possible.)

We should know in maybe a week or two if Provodnikov will fight Matthysse, Kornilov told me, and he wouldn’t say that the fight is a 95% certainty.

Readers, feel free to offer your theories, and your wants and desires for the near term.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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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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