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The Hauser Report: Alvarez-Kirkland and More



On September 30, 2014, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez attended a luncheon at HBO to announce a multi-fight contract with the network. His red hair and green pullover shirt gave the impression of an early Christmas present.

One reason Canelo signed to fight on HBO was that he didn’t want to play second fiddle to Floyd Mayweather at Showtime. Beyond that, he’s a key puzzle piece in HBO’s desire to continue its appeal to Latino subscribers and Golden Boy’s attempt to maintain its standing as a major promoter.

“My focus is Canelo, one hundred percent,” Oscar De La Hoya told reporters at the luncheon. “Whatever he asks, I have to do.”

At age 24, Alvarez has established himself as a marketable commodity within the boxing community. He’s not a crossover star in United States. Nor is he an elite fighter. In ESPN’s most recent pound-for-pound poll, not one panelist gave him a top-ten vote. De La Hoya, by age 24, had won an Olympic gold medal and beaten the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker. And let’s not forget what happened when Canelo fought Floyd Mayweather two years ago.

That said; with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr imploding and Juan Manuel Marquez on the verge of retirement, Alvarez is Mexican boxing’s most promising hope for the future. He engenders good ratings. He has amassed a 45-and 1 (32 KOs) ring record against increasingly credible competition. And there have been times (most notably against Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout) when he went in tougher than he had to.

On Saturday, May 9, Alvarez entered the ring for the first time pursuant to his new contract with HBO. Bart Barry summed up the impending confrontation as follows:

“A week after Pacquiao-Mayweather, Mexican Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will fight Texan James Kirkland at Minute Maid Park in Houston before a crowd that should be about three times the MGM Grand’s crowd. ‘But oh,’ cries a passel of aspiring businessmen from their parents’ couches. ‘They won’t make as much money.’ First of all, why the hell are you so excited about strangers making money? Second of all, three times as many aficionados and potential aficionados will have a chance to see a major event in a sport you care about, which is better for your sport in every single way.”

Kirkland entered the ring with a 32-and-1 (28 KOs) record. James has granite hands but a bit of glass in his chin. He came out punching at the opening bell. Canelo weathered the storm, mixed effective body punching with solid shots to the head, hurt Kirkland with a hard right to the body, and knocked him down with a straight right up top.

There was 1:20 left in round one. Kirkland was in trouble but survived the onslaught that followed, including a barrage that left him all but out on his feet at the close of the stanza.

Round two was marked by exciting back-and-forth action.

In round three, Kirkland was clearly tired and Alvarez seemed to be wearing down. Both fighters dug deep. A right uppercut put James on the canvas at the 1:50 mark. He rose. There were more punches. Then Canelo wound up an overhand right from so far back that everyone in Houston except Kirkland could see it coming. The blow landed flush on James’s jaw and knocked him out.

Last week, Evander Holyfield complained, “I’ve attended the three biggest fights of the year so far: Deontay Wilder vs. Bermane Stiverne, Wladimir Klitschko vs. Bryant Jennings, and now Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. And you know what I’ve seen? Not much boxing. In 36 total rounds, I saw zero knockdowns. I saw a lot of holding and hugging and a lot of running. I saw three 12-round unanimous decisions. What I didn’t see were punches being thrown and landed. No fighter in any of the three fights was ever threatened or even in trouble. I didn’t even see a fighter with a cut or a bruise after the fight. Everyone was just playing defense, trying not to get hit. How can you have a boxing match if guys aren’t throwing and landing punches? The answer is, you can’t.”

According to CompuBox, Alvarez outlanded Kirkland 87-to-41 over the course of three rounds with a 79-to-41 edge in power punches. That didn’t leave much room for jabs in the computation. Evander has been going to the wrong fights.

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Six hours before Alvarez-Kirkland, Hildago, Texas (300 miles southwest of Houston) hosted a Premier Boxing champions doubleheader on CBS.

In the opening bout, England’s Jamie McDonnell (25-2, 12 KOs) survived a third-round knockdown to score a hard-fought 114-113, 114-113, 114-113 decision over Japan’s Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19 KOs). The final round (when McDonnell dug deep and Kameda didn’t) was the difference.

But the real story of the evening was referee Laurence Cole and three judges, who administed a dose of Texas injustice to Scotsman Ricky Burns (37-4, 11 KOs) in his fight against local favorite Omar Figueroa (24-0, 18 KOs).

Prior to the bout, Figueroa (who was moving up from 135 pounds) showed a lack of professionalism by weighing in 1.5 pounds over the 140-pound contract weight. But the day’s most relevant number might have been ”22” (the number of miles that Figueroa lives from Hidalgo).

As early as round two, CBS commentators Mauro Ranallo, Paulie Malignaggi, and Virgil Hunter were commenting on Cole’s conduct of the proceedings.

“Cole has become a big factor in this fight,” Hunter noted. As the fight wore on, Virgil added, “Laurence Cole continues to pull Ricky Burns’s arm away [in clinches], putting him in a dangerous situation . . . Right now, you see Figueroa holding and hitting, and he’s not being warned. Let’s have a fair fight here.”

When Figueroa led with his head (which he did often), Cole warned Burns for pushing Omar’s head down.

“I don’t like that warning,” Malignaggi said on one such occasion. “I’d like to see Cole warn Figueroa as well.” After a similar warning later in the fight, Hunter objected, “You have a right to protect yourself. The head is a dangerous weapon.”

“He [Cole] continues to inject himself unnecessarily,” Ranallo opined.

In round eight, Cole deducted a point from Burns for “holding,” prompting Malignaggi to observe, “When both guys are jockeying for position like that, it’s not even holding.” In round eleven, Cole deducted another point from the Scotsman.

It was an exciting fight. Figueroa is a volume-punching, come-forward brawler, and Burns obliged him. But the bout was marred by the refereeing and also by the nagging suspicion that Ricky would be jobbed by the judges when it was over.

That’s what happened. I thought that, even with Cole’s intercession, Burns won. The judges ruled otherwise, scoring 117-109, 116-110, 116-110 in Figueroa’s favor. To say that Burns won only three or four rounds was frivolous.

It’s no accident that every time there’s questionable officiating in Texas, it favors the house fighter.

Figueroa is an exciting fighter. But he gets hit too much. If Omar faces a big puncher, not even Texas refereeing and judging will save him.

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TruTV’s introductory boxing telecast on Friday, May 1, was lost in the frenzy surrounding Mayweather-Pacquiao. Its second telecast took place on May 8.

In the opening bout, Seanie Monaghan (23-0, 15 KOs) took on Brazil’s Cleiton Conceicao (20-6-2, 16 KOs).

Looking beneath the surface of Conceicao’s record, the last man he beat had 36 losses and had been knocked out eight times in a row. The eight men Cleiton defeated before that had a composite ring record of 8 wins, 64 losses, and 1 draw. He’d been brought to the Prudential Center in Newark on the assumption that he’d take punishment without dishing out too much.

Monaghan scored effectively to the body in the early going. But Seanie gets hit a lot, and Friday night was no exception. He was cut early over his right eye, which was closed by the end of the fight. And he faded late, which is uncharacteristic of him. A flurry of punches in round nine, starting with an overhand right to the ear, put him in a bit of trouble. But he pounded out a 99-91, 98-92, 98-92 decision.

The main event matched Glen Tapia (23-1, 15 KOs) against Frenchman Michel Soro (25-1, 15 KOs).

Seventeen months ago, Tapia suffered a brutal knockout loss at the hands of James Kirkland. He was put in soft in his next three outings (as had been the case in most of his outings before the Kirkland fight).

Soro had won all 25 of his fights contested on French soil and neither of the two fights contested away from home. That changed in round four, when an explosion of punches beginning with a solid right hand put Tapia out on his feet, forcing referee David Fields to stop the fight.

Ray Mancini’s expert commentary was a plus throughout the telecast.

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When Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquio met in the ring on May 2, “those in attendance and the millions of people watching around the world” knew that something was wrong. Michael Buffer (the real “TBE”) could barely talk.

The promotion of Mayweather-Pacquiao was marked by turf wars at every turn. The division of ring announcing duties was no exception. Buffer is identified with HBO. Jimmy Lennon is Showtime’s guy. After extensive negotiation, a narrative was scripted that divided announcing duties between them as evenly as possible.

Then, on the morning of the fight, Buffer woke up and his voice was gone. Too many interviews during the week had robbed him of his magical powers.

The original plan had been for Buffer to open the show by welcoming viewers at the start of the pay-per-view telecast. He’d also been slated to read the introductions and results for Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Gamalier Rodriguez. Those chores were reassigned to Lennon.

Meanwhile, Michael spent the day drinking tea with honey and communicating by email only. By fight night, his voice had recovered to the point where he was able to introduce the Filipino national anthem, call Manny Pacquiao to the ring, and intone his iconic, “Let’s get ready to rumble!”

But his voice was noticeably hoarse.

Michael Buffer without his voice is like a fighter with a torn rotator cuff.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at His most recent book – Thomas Hauser on Boxing- was published by the University of Arkansas Press.


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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.



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



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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