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MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: #MayPac Nearing Home Stretch?

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MONDAY UPDATE: Hopes were dashed, for those brave (and foolish?) souls who had an inkling, whose hopefullness over-rode their common sense, and my Tweeted warnings that no announcement would come this weekend, when they tuned in to watch the NBA All-Star Game, and watched Floyd Mayweather get interviewed at the half.

This is it, they chortled to themselves, as their wife looked at them disdainfully, and muttered to herself something along the lines of ‘what is this damn fool getting so invested in now?’… Only to be kicked in the family jewels yet again, when Floyd was asked if #MayPac was signed. “That’s not true. I haven’t signed yet and he hasn’t signed yet,” Mayweather said on TNT. “It’s just been speculations and rumors. But I’m hoping we can make the fight happen.” Could it be kicked to later in the summer, asked reporter David Aldridge, who said he has time off then, and would like to be able to check out the Super Fight on his off time. Nope, Floyd said, he’s “MAYweather,” it would have to happen in May.

Still icing those jewels, you optimists? You may need more icing…or at least, more patience. I’m gathering from talking to some bigwigs that issues still need ironing…and that the perception exists that what Pacman has agreed to, in writing,  doesn’t and shouldn’t signify, from the Mayweather side, that we are all thisclose to getting #MayPac confirmation. Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza has Tweeted a public refutation that a contract has been signed by Pacman.

Things we shoudl keep an eye on, if you are still inclined to do so, and have not hopped off the bus of speculation and rumors and social media monitoring…Pacman promoter Bob Arum will be standing in front of press tomorrow (Tuesday), during an open workout for his Chinese standout Zou Shiming. Will Arum weigh in on #MayPac goings on? Or will he adhere to a “gag” policy which the dealmakers are pretty much going by for the last few weeks? If he is in blast mode, and takes aim at his ex fighter Mayweather, you might read into that that the chances for a May meeting between the two superstars are dwindling. Or not…As I have said before, the ball is firmly in the court of Mayweather. He’s the A Plus side guy in this equation. He holds the cards, all the good ones, really, so if he want this thing, he can snap his fingers, and things will fall into place. The nets will fall into line, the final terms will coalesce. And if he doesn’t? YIKES…will there be enough ice for those tattered family jewels of those peeps who have invested so much, maybe too much, into following this saga? (Oh, and what is the proper term, instead ‘family jewels,’  for the ladies who are invested in this ‘Will They or Won’t They, Why Don’t They? deal….They have absorbed punishment as their hopes have been dashed, rebuilt, only to be re-busted.)

What might be the blowback of spurned fight fans who would be disinclined to tune in to Floyd’s May 2 fight against someone not named Pacquiao? I’m hoping I don’t have to engage in more pondering about that situation, and that this week, common ground is found, and this ludicrous saga comes to a close. Because for cripes sake, this ain’t peace in the Middle East. It’s a PRIZE FIGHT, people!

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A Brit paper has a report saying that things are good to go, from the Pacquiao side, and all that remains is for our man Mayweather to check out the contract, nod, and sign. Sounds simple, don’t it? LOL. It’s been five years, and a lifetime worth of haggling to get this far, so to assume that we are just a mere formality away from seeing the fruition, the culmination of this ludicrous ordeal of a waltz, probably is unwise. But my poking around, with a select few who are in the know, but don’t wish to upset the delicate balance at this stage, this Brit account does seem to be on the level. “A source close to the Filipino boxer and congressman revealed to The Sunday Telegraph that Pacquiao completed his contractual agreements on Saturday and that Mayweather is set to sign and will announce the contest which is expected to be worth $250 million (£162 million) in the coming days,” wrote Gareth Davies.

Makes sense, for Floyd, while in NYC, where he arrived Thursday, to tie up the loose ends where his “employer,” the Showtime and CBS crew, are headquartered. After all, it makes sense for all the lawyers who’ll have their fingerprints on all the elements of the deal, which should tally up to somewhere around $300 million worth of commerce, to be on site and able to easily communicate. Then again, conventional wisdom has come and gone and been doused with gasoline and lit aflame a few times since 2009, when this thing first became a no-brainer thing to do. So, until this is done, it can be thisclose…but actually a bridge too far away.

The power, the leverage, it’s all with A-Plus Side Floyd….

“Money,” the move is yours.

How about a Valentines Day smooch to all us who’ve played the waiting game so patiently, how about sending out a pic on Shots of the words “MayPac is on for May 2” on a candy heart?

FRI. AM UPDATE: The quiet the last few days has been deafening, for those of us unable to turn away from the fascinating and foolish “Will they or won’t they?” dance being done by Teams Mayweather and Pacquiao. We read into it, wonder, and that’s what we on the outside looking in are mostly doing, wondering, though we get occasional tidbits tossed to us by those more in the know, wonder if the silence means anything. We hear rumors, maybe based in fact, maybe based on the guesswork of keyboard tappers who like to stir the Twitter pot and build their Follower base…We say to ourselves, wouldn’t it make sense for Floyd Mayweather, in NYC to party and take in the NBA All-Star festivities, to announce #MayPac while in the media capital of the world? He could in one fell swoop make himself available to all meaningful media outlets, from the NY Times on down…Makes sense, don’t it?

I heard on Friday morning from Someone Big Who Would Know that it would make sense, and that it would be a good idea to watch the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night, because Floyd has the contractual right to announce #MayPac, if and when the final Ts are crossed…and this of course implies that we will get to that point, and soon. But sometimes soon never comes…And Someone Else Big Who Would Know then told me a bit later that we won’t get an Announcement this weekend. Yes, hopes dashed once again….Hey, it’s Valentines Day time, anyone with any time on this earth understands hopes being dashed, the pain of not getting what you want, in this milieu, right?

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Some of you, I dare say many of you, have tuned out. The saturation of attention to the fifth, and hopefully last, round of negotiations for a proposed Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout has turned off a goodly number of boxingheads and heck, even more casual boxing fans. Just put up or shut up, is the message from those tired of the back and forth mud slinging, and obsessive monitoring of all the players on Team Mayweather and Team Pacquiao.

For those not giving a hoot about #MayPac until the two fighters are standing center ring and hear the ding-ding of the commencement of round one of ACTUAL fighting, we salute you. Your disdain is merited…but for anyone still paying attention, know this. One of the smartest deep insiders I know just called me, and told me to, “Bet on it.”

He said that if he were a betting man, he’d lay money down on Floyd Mayweather facing off with Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd. 2015, that is…

Of course, all of us who splash in the pugilistic pond know that until the XXL lady hits the high notes, nothing is a done deal.

So grains of salt are being ingested as I write this and should be as you read this. But…it is looking like we might be near that finish line, and hopefully we can soon transfer our attention from “Will they?” to “What Will Happen When They Do?”

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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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