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The Hauser Report: Adrien Broner Punks Out

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Three competing fight cards of note were televised simultaneously on June 20. The most intriguing match-up of the night was on NBC and showcased Adrien Broner vs. Shawn Porter.

There was a time when Broner (30-1, 22 KOs) sought to position himself as the successor to Floyd Mayweather. No undersized punching bag was safe when Adrien was on the loose. His formula was to potshot opponents until he knew they were safe and then go after them. He had (and still has) prodigious physical gifts.

“At lightweight, where he was able to exploit his size,” Jimmy Tobin writes, “Broner walked opponents down and banged them out. His mediocre defense was masked by his ability to handle a lightweight punch. His struggles to transition between offense and defense were hidden by the fact that Broner never needed to take a backward step.”

But as Broner moved up in weight and the caliber of opponent improved, his limitations as fighter became evident. He won a narrow split-decision victory over Paulie Malignaggi at 147 pounds in 2013 and, later that year, was exposed in a unanimous-decision loss at the hands of Marcos Maidana.

Broner claimed that he wanted a rematch against Maidana. But as Carlos Acevedo observed, “Not only was Broner thrashed by Maidana, he was humiliated. He rose like a man suffering from Jake Leg after being knocked down in the second round, tried to buy a disqualification by writhing on the canvas like a two-year old in a Wal-Mart after Maidana butted him, hit the deck again in the eighth, was the victim of a revenge humping, and then fled the ring under a gauntlet of beer cups. Another loss to Maidana might have put an end to the Broner hype once and for all.”

So instead of fighting a rematch against Maidana, Broner went down in weight to 140 and fought three overmatched opponents. Then, on Saturday night, he squared off against Shawn Porter (25-1, 16 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at a catchweight of 144 pounds.

Porter’s resume had a unanimous-decision victory over Devon Alexander on it and also a majority-decision loss to Kell Brook. As a point of further comparison with Broner, Shawn wiped out Paulie Malignaggi in four rounds last year.

Porter was a 6-to-5 betting favorite. Broner has better natural gifts, but the feeling among those in the know was that Adrien is soft. Broner can trash-talk with the best. But it has become increasingly clear that he can’t back it up. Against Porter, he didn’t even try to.

Boxing maven Charles Jay has opined, “I hate it when a guy talks like a monster before the fight and then comes out and fights like a little lamb. I’ve seen it too many times, and it shows disrespect for the sport itself.”

That was Broner on Saturday night.

“Hit and don’t get hit” doesn’t mean “run, hold, and be boring.” There’s a difference between fighting cautiously and stinking out the joint.

Against Porter, Broner ran all night. Whenever Shawn got inside, Adrien tied him up. As the fight progressed, hugging and holding evolved into forearms to the throat. Then Adrien added headlocks to his repertoire. By round four, Steve Smoger (who was commentating for NBC) noted, “All we’ve seen so far is four rounds of fouls and forearms.”

Porter tried to make it more of a battle. But he couldn’t figure out how to do damage while coming in. And whenever he got inside, Broner tied him up. Adrien simply didn’t want to fight. And Shawn didn’t know how to fight a guy who didn’t want to fight.

Referee Tony Weeks let Broner continue to hold and foul until round eleven, when he belatedly deducted a point. It was one of the few times in memory that the crowd has roared its approval when the referee took a point away from a fighter.

Early in round twelve, Porter got sloppy and Broner landed a hook up top that put Shawn on the canvas. But when Porter rose, Adrien went back to holding and hugging rather than going for a knockout (which he obviously needed to win).

Porter prevailed by a 118-108, 115-111, 114-112 margin on the judges’ scorecards and had a 149-to-88 advantage in punches landed.

Thereafter, Broner nonsensically proclaimed, “I’m okay. It’s okay. It don’t matter. I’m a real animal. I came to fight today and I didn’t get the decision. But at the end of the day, everyone here will take my autograph and my picture.”

Broner isn’t as good as he says he is. Boxing fans figured that out a while ago.

*     *     *

David Lemieux (33-2, 31 KOs) vs. Hassan N’Dam (31-1, 18 KOs) on FoxSports2 was a even-money fight in Lemieux’s hometown of Montreal for the vacant (and phony) IBF 160-pound world championship belt.

Lemieux is an entertaining fighter, who couldn’t get over the hump in back-to-back losses against Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine in 2011. N’Dam who was knocked down six times in a 2012 loss to Peter Quillin, scored his biggest win last year, a unanimous 12-round decision over Curtis Stevens.

Lemieux wanted a slugfest. And because he was in the ring with a fighter who has limited defensive skills, he got one. That led to N’Dam being knocked down once in round two, twice in round five, and again in round seven; each time by a left hook up top.

They weren’t flash knockdowns. They were punishing damaging blows. And when Lemieux wasn’t knocking N’Dam down, he was loading up with both hands and pummeling him around the ring for long stretches of time.

One couldn’t help but compare N’Dam’s fortitude to that of Daniel Geale, who quit on his feet two weeks ago against Miguel Cotto. Unlike Geale, N’Dam took an incredible amount of punishment. And not only did he keep fighting; he kept trying to win.

In the end, the judges favored Lemieux by a 115-109, 115-109, 114-110 margin.

Lemieux vs. Gennady Golovkin will be fun while it lasts if it happens.

*     *     *

Andre Ward (now 28-0, 15 KOs) hasn’t joined the federal witness protection program. But he’s no longer in the thick of things either.

Ward rose to prominence with victories over Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, and Carl Froch in Showtime’s “Super Six” 168-pound tournament. But contractual problems, injuries, and a general disinclination to fight credible opponents limited him to two ring appearances in the forty-two months that followed.

Then Ward signed a promotional contract with Roc Nation at the start of 2015, demanded a tune-up fight, and was relegated to BET, where he fought England’s Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KOs) on Saturday night.

Smith, a likable man who has never beaten a world-class fighter, was a 30-to-1 underdog. He simply didn’t have the tools to challenge Ward on any level.

Ward fought a safety-first fight. After three dreary rounds, he had a 72-to-10 edge in punches landed. The rest of the fight was no different. During the seventh stanza, blow-by-blow commentator Barry Tompkins observed, “It’s been the same dance since the opening round.” The seventh round also saw Smith cut above the left eye (which has been a problem for him in recent fights). In round nine, Ward broke Smith’s nose; blood began to pour; and Paul’s corner stopped the fight. Andre won every minute of what looked like a one-sided sparring session.

Fights like this might help Ward’s bank account. There are reports that his purse for the fight was $2,000,000. But they don’t help the Roc Nation brand.

Meanwhile, Ward’s status in boxing is best understood when one compares him to Miguel Cotto.

Ward is undefeated. When last in action, he was rated #2 on most pound-for-pound lists. Both Ward and Cotto are signed to Roc Nation. Each man fought a B-level opponent this month.  But Cotto fought on HBO and Ward needed a time buy on BET to get his comeback fight on television.

There are two opponents of note outside of the Al Haymon universe that Ward could fight next: Gennady Golovkin at 168 pounds and Sergey Kovalev at 175. No other foreseeable Andre Ward fight matters.

*     *     *

A word on Sergio Martinez, who announced his retirement from boxing on June 13 at age forty.

Martinez walked into a boxing gym for the first time at age twenty. He turned pro three years later and compiled a ring record of 51 wins, 3 losses, and 2 draws. On April 17, 2010, he decisioned Kelly Pavlik to claim the world middleweight crown. Six successful championship defenses followed. But as Sergio grew older, his body betrayed him. Plagued by a bad knee that limited his training and ring movement, he was dethroned last year by Miguel Cotto.

I was priviliged to spend the hours before and after a fight in Martinez’s dressing room on six occasions. The first of these came on November 20, 2010, when Sergio rendered Paul Williams unconscious with a crushing overhand left in the second round.

Williams and his trainer, George Peterson, later spoke of a “lucky punch.”

“It definitely wasn’t a lucky punch,” Sergio countered. “Anybody who has seen the tape – it’s not too long – sees me throwing the same punch six times and landing five, and then I knock him out. It was a premeditated punch, not lucky.”

David Greisman’s analysis supported Sergio’s view.

“Can we please put this to rest, already,” Greisman wrote. “Martinez landed the same timed overhand left as the knockout punch numerous times in both his first fight with Williams and in their rematch. By my tally, Martinez landed it fifteen times in their first bout, including nine times in the final three rounds of the bout, as he realized it was another weapon that would work on Williams. And in the rematch, Martinez landed it half a dozen times in four minutes. Seven times, if you count the final blow.”

Outside the ring, Martinez has been an advocate for women who have been subjected to domestic violence and for children who’ve been the target of bullying in school.

“A world-class fighter doesn’t have to act like a thug,” he says. “As a professional athlete who is in the public eye, I have a duty to speak out on behalf of people who need help and are not heard.”

Sergio Martinez has always conducted himself with dignity and grace. Boxing will miss him.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. 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.

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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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