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Fighting Bradley In Rubber Match May Not Be Wisest Choice For Pacquiao

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Well, this could very well be the week that former eight division champ Manny Pacquiao 57- 6-2 (38) announces who he’ll fight in what many speculate to be his farewell bout. The last time Pacquiao was seen in the ring he was being out-boxed by pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather back on May 2nd. After losing a decision to Mayweather, Pacquiao announced that he suffered from a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder entering the bout and that’s why his showing was so underwhelming. Pacquiao is on the mend now and is slated to fight April 9th of 2016. The only unknown is who his opponent will be, something we should know by the end of the week.

All indications are according to the Desert Sun, Timothy Bradley is the leading candidate over Terrence Crawford and Amir Khan. If that turns out to be the case, and it should because it makes all the sense in the world being Pacquiao and Bradley are both promoted by Top Rank Promotions, the fight will be easy to make. And the story lines for Pacquiao- Bradley are plentiful. For starters it would be a rubber match with Pacquiao and Bradley having already split two fights between them passing the WBO welterweight title back and forth. On top of that Pacquiao and Bradley are both trained by the two most “See Me Out There” trainers in professional boxing. Freddie Roach has been with Pacquiao for years and Teddy Atlas worked with Bradley for his last bout when he became the first fighter to stop the ever tough and durable Brandon Rios.

As stated in the Sun, fighting Bradley makes the most sense for Pacquiao because….”He’s still a big name, a world champion, and someone Pacquaio has had success against in the past. And because it may be Pacquiao’s last fight, that alone could be enough to generate interest and pay-per-view buys. In addition, Bradley tore a calf muscle early in the second fight and, if healthy, the fight could be more interesting this time around.”

Yes, the Sun is correct, Pacquiao is most familiar with Bradley, but I believe it is a risky fight for him. If Manny chose to fight Amir Khan, Pacquiao is familiar with him due to their many rounds sparring each other during fight preparation for both. In addition to that, I have no doubt when they get in the ring, due to Pacquiao’s superior power and confidence, he’d dictate the terms of the fight once they touched gloves because of Amir’s questionable punch resistance. As for Crawford, he is the most dangerous from a skill-set vantage point but he is relatively inexperienced fighting on the world stage, opposed to Pacquiao who has been fighting in front of a world audience since early 2009.

So for the record I’d rate Bradley the most dangerous opponent of the three for Pacquiao and here’s why. Yes, Pacquiao is viewed by many as having won the first fight between them despite two of three judges scoring the fight in favor of Bradley. But let’s be honest, Manny didn’t look all world against Bradley the first time they met. In the rematch Pacquiao got off better and didn’t wait for the perfect shot and ultimately out-worked Bradley earning a unanimous decision. But Pacquiao didn’t look great or unbeatable against Bradley during their rematch either. I’m not sure after getting thoroughly out-boxed by Mayweather that fighting another guy who is going to move is such a great idea. Manny hasn’t looked great in years and he’s lost a step which makes him much more vulnerable to being out boxed by a fighter with speed who uses it.

I think Bradley is at the point in his career in which he’s not just confident, he also feels really good about himself and what he’s capable of doing as a fighter. Atlas has Bradley dialed in and believing that if he implicitly listens to Teddy, everything will work out for the better and he’ll be successful.

You can say what you want regarding Atlas being a terrible fight handicapper and how he usually picks the wrong fighter to win. However, I feel there’s a legitimate excuse for that, and that is Atlas getting it wrong when it comes to picking the winner is….he has an agenda and usually leans toward the fighter he likes and respects most. I don’t think it’s a matter of him flat out missing it. Atlas understands styles and sees the strength and weaknesses of any fighter he observes closely. He’s every bit as good of a tactician as Roach and probably better. And that’s where the trainers will have some say in this bout between Pacquiao and Bradley if it happens.

If you break the styles down, Roach is going to advise Manny to be aggressive and to let his hands go, and that’s great because he knows Bradley and Atlas don’t want to get into a firefight. The problem is Manny is no longer the supernova he once was and needs to be set with basically a stationary opponent in front of him in order to get off good. He was never great at cutting off the ring and he’ll surely need to do that against Bradley. Atlas knows this and will convey to Bradley that as long as he keeps jabbing and turning, Pacquiao will forever be playing catch up. And you better believe Timothy will follow Atlas’s instructions to the letter because he’ll entrust his faith in whatever Atlas tells him and that will make him a better fighter and in his mind lead him to being victorious.

In the last three or four years, it’s no secret that the current version of Pacquiao is stymied by foot speed and lateral movement. Bradley has quick hands and feet and when he cuts loose he is effective, as long as he doesn’t foolishly attempt to stand there and trade with Pacquiao. If Bradley fights his fight and follows the fight plan that Atlas constructs, he’ll give Pacquiao a very rough night and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he won by decision.

Actually, as of this writing I would bet on Bradley if I got 2-1 odds. I’ve been saying for years Manny is vulnerable to movement and speed, something Mayweather showed the world. No, Bradley isn’t Mayweather but I have my doubts as to whether Pacquiao will be even as good against Bradley as he was against Mayweather 11 months earlier.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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

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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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