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R.I.P. Bennie Georgino: Last of L.A.’s Golden Era

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R.I.P. Bennie Georgino – Few men can bridge the sport of boxing from the 1930s to the present. Last week, one of those few, Bennie Georgino, passed away and with him goes the nuggets of knowledge accrued since the Great Depression to the present day.

Georgino, 95, grew up in the East L.A. section known as Lincoln Heights. Ironically, the LA Times erroneously calls it Northern Broadway area. It’s known to those living there as Lincoln Heights, not the Northern Broadway area. It’s less than five miles from the Times Building. But that’s the Times for you.

As a youth Georgino walked those downtown streets and sold newspapers. There were no local malls in the 1930s. If you wanted entertainment you visited one of the many palace-like movie theaters on Broadway. If you felt like shopping for clothes or gifts you could choose one of many large department stores such as Bullocks, Robinsons, Broadway, and I. Magnin.

Most people used the electric cable cars to get from one point to another. They were plenty and convenient until the 1960s when corrupt politicians allowed the bus companies to take over.

Outside of the movie theaters and dance ballrooms, finding another source of entertainment was where boxing fit quite nicely. More than a half dozen newspapers vied for the public in those days. They all covered boxing like flies on a sticky window.

In the 1930s at various boxing venues, you could find movie stars, sports celebrities, musical artists and politicians mingling shoulder to shoulder with the regular folk. Next to Robert Taylor you could see the construction worker from Happy Valley eating hot dogs and gulping down beers. One could see Mae West pull up in her limousine with Chalky Wright driving the car. It was a time in history when boxing took the forefront.

“I would fight on an amateur card at the Olympic and get paid $5 dollars. That was a lot of money in those times,” said Georgino to me a few years back. “Amateurs got paid money to fight. You could make some good money that way.”

Georgino was always a hustler when it came to making money.

“I would fight one day in South Gate, the next day at Santa Monica and at the Olympic another day,” Georgino said. “I wanted to fight pro but my parents would not let me.”

One day at the Main Street Gym, lightweight world champion Lou Ambers walked into the gym to take a look around. Ambers was famous for his clash with the great Henry Armstrong during the Depression era.

“He wanted to take me back east to train where boxing was stronger,” said Georgino of their meeting. “My parents said no.”

Golden Era

During the 1940s boxing remained strong as ever. While Major League Baseball lost many of its players to World War II, in the sport of boxing you only need one person to fight another person. The people needed entertainment and pro boxing fit that purpose like a glove.

One man who rose to the top during this historic time was Art Aragon, otherwise known as “The Golden Boy.” From the 1940s to the 1960s the Olympic Auditorium in particular was the house that Aragon filled whenever and whoever he fought.

“Boy, he could fill those seats,” Georgino said about his late friend Aragon who passed away in 2008. “People hated him and loved him. He had a way of bringing out the hate in people but boy he could sell tickets. That’s why they called him the Golden Boy.”

Aragon was famous for his escapades with Hollywood starlets such as Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren and others. Sometimes the courtroom was the only place you could find the boxing star. Georgino knew all of his haunts and they shared some of those stories, but not for print.

Georgino, who would own various businesses including a bar and a deli, became a mainstay at the Olympic fight cards and at the Main Street Gym.

“Bennie Georgino was a throwback to when Los Angeles was truly a fight town.  A jack of all trades, his resume included the titles of gym rat, bar owner, bail bondsman, odds-maker, and running buddy of Art Aragon “Golden Boy” of the 1950s,” said Gene Aguilera, author of Mexican-American Boxing in Los Angeles. “I, for one, truly believe that Georgino enjoyed hanging out at the Main St. Gym and Olympic Auditorium more than he did his home.  He never met a boxing match he didn’t like.”

On one side of the smoky Olympic Auditorium was a section reserved for gamblers. When television emerged in the early 1950s they were told to not show that section of the crowd. One particular night a new television cameraman decided to improvise.

“This (camera) guy showed all these guys exchanging money and other married guys sitting with women, you should have seen the ruckus it caused,” said Georgino about the incident. “This camera guy caused a lot of problems. Pretty soon they made an unwritten rule to never show that side of the boxing arena.”

Armando Muniz, one of the great attractions at the Olympic Auditorium during the1970s, remembers Georgino as one of the regulars.

“I always remember Benny as one of the gambling boxing fans. He and a bunch of other “real” fight fans all sat there at ringside in the same area of the Olympic,” says Muniz. “He was a good bettor. Somehow he had the lowdown on these big name boxers.”

Georgino had a guaranteed spot on that side of the arena. It was a spot he cherished. His fondest memories were of owning a deli near the now defunct Herald-Examiner building and serving sandwiches and drinks to customers. Then they would walk a couple of blocks to the Olympic Auditorium to watch the weekly fight cards.

“Boy those were the days,” said Georgino. “My customers would stop by and talk about boxing. There was no baseball back then. It was just boxing. The boxing writers Melvin Durslag and Bud Furillo would drop by to talk boxing when they had time before a fight. We’ll never see those days again.”

Aragon and Georgino had numerous escapades during the 50s and 60s. When Aragon retired he bought a bail bonds business next to that owned by Georgino near the L.A. County Jail.

“Art used to do some crazy things,” Georgino recalled. “I would ask him why do you do things like that? He would just shrug and say ‘why not.’ He was funny that way.”

After a while the two took different paths. Georgino always had an interest in supporting boxers as a sponsor of sort. He was a frequent visitor to the Main Street Gym in downtown L.A. and knew everyone that visited the gym from sportswriters, actors, boxers, trainers, managers and the owner Howie Steindler.

Main Street Gym

Steindler was the trainer and manager of a stable of some of the top fighters of that era including Danny “Lil Red” Lopez, Alberto Davila and others. Sadly, on March 1977, Steindler was found dead in the trunk of his gleaming Cadillac on the off ramp of the Ventura Freeway. He had been beaten to death. His killers were never found.

The top stable of fighters, including featherweight world champion Lopez, were in limbo for a short while. According to Georgino, he was asked by Lopez to take over. Lopez, Davila and others had their contracts picked up by Georgino.

Lopez would soon advance toward numerous world title defenses and be televised nationally on the major networks. He defended the featherweight world title a total of eight times until losing to Mexico’s Salvador Sanchez twice in 1980.

“Sanchez was too much for Lopez but he (Lopez) had run his time,” Georgino said. “I had written into the contract that if we fought Sanchez I would get part of his contract.”

Georgino had Sanchez on contract for a short period of time before he was asked politely to hand his contract over to Don King.

The new partnership between Sanchez and King never took root. The smiling Mexican champion was given a brand new Porsche by his new promoter and took off at high speeds one night. He crashed in the mountains of Mexico near his home of Santiago Tianguistenco.

“If he had stayed with me that would have never happened,” said Georgino of losing Sanchez. “You can’t spoil fighters. It’s no good. But I had to give him up.”

Georgino never revealed who it was that forced him to give up Sanchez’s contract.

Though Lopez retired after losing twice to Sanchez, there were other fighters in Georgino’s stable including bantamweight contender Davila. The fighter from Pomona challenged numerous times for the world title and was rebuffed.

“That kid could really box,” said Georgino. “Of all the boxers I managed he was the best by far. He could not punch much but he could out-box anyone. He just never got the breaks.”

Davila lost world title bouts against Wilfredo Gomez, Carlos Zarate, Lupe Pintor and Jorge Lujan. In 1983, Davila got another shot at the vacant title versus Kiko Bejines at the Olympic Auditorium. That night in March, Davila seemed the stronger fighter and stopped Bejines with a barrage of punches in the 12th round. Bejines was taken out on a stretcher and never recovered. He died a few days later from injuries sustained in the title fight. Davila won the title but it was not a moment to celebrate.

“Boxing is a dangerous sport. You can’t ever take anyone lightly so you have to be on your toes all of the time,” said Georgino. “It’s why I was always hard on my fighters. They had to be in the best of shape or get out. Lots of people die in boxing.”

Another champion steered by Georgino was hard-hitting Jaime Garza.

“He could really hit,” said Georgino of the super bantamweight champion. “If you could put Davila’s boxing ability with Garza’s power you would really have something.”

Garza terrorized the 122-pounders with his raw electric power. He knocked out Bobby Berna in June 1983 to win the WBC super bantamweight world title. Georgino had both Davila and Garza win world titles in the same year. For this he was named Trainer of the Year in 1983 by Ring Magazine.

“He guided Alberto Davila and Jaime Garza to world titles while under his watch,” remembers Gene Aguilera who witnessed Davila’s victory.

Others managed or trained by Georgino were Oscar “The Boxer” Muniz, Herman “Kid” Montes, John “Weto” Montes and Ron Weaver.

Promoting

Few knew promoting like Georgino who became a guru for many casinos in the west coast. He was often sought to advise numerous Indian casinos such as Morongo, AguaCaliente and numerous out-of-state casinos.

In 1996 he began a successful run as promoter of the Lucky Eagle Casino in the state of Washington that came to an end in 2007 due to health reasons.

When Thompson Boxing Promotions opened its doors in Ontario it was Georgino they sought for advice.

“He would tell you like it was. He hated when guys didn’t want to fight each other,” said Alex Camponovo of Thompson Boxing. “He was one of our advisors. He was the guy, so generous, he never held back. In this sport a lot of guys don’t tell you what to expect.”

Georgino was inducted in the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003 as a promoter.

“He’s one of those guys from the L.A. boxing scene that you cannot replace,” Camponovo said. “He’s one of the last of that generation.”

Georgino is survived by his wife Ruth Georgino.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday Feb. 13, at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles at 10 a.m.

 

PIC: Bennie Georgino, left, manager and trainer of WBC super bantamweight world champion Jaime Garza, middle, and assistant trainer John Montes Sr

 

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 8: Competing Cards in N.Y. and L.A.

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Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”

DiBella

Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at www.360promotions.us and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

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Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told GMAnetwork.com’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

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