Connect with us

Canada & Usa

Golden Boy Seeks to Reload Olympic Auditorium



Olympic Auditorium – Rumors are floating that the Olympic Auditorium, that grand lady of boxing arenas in Los Angeles, will be re-opening its large doors for the fistic sport again.

Oscar De La Hoya, who twice performed inside the L.A. arena including his first world title bout in 1994, said to this reporter that negotiations to re-open the famed arena are underway.

“We want to do regular shows at the Olympic,” said De La Hoya, the president of Golden Boy Promotions.

The Olympic Auditorium held its final boxing show in 2005 and was converted to a Korean-American church. But the success of boxing in the downtown Los Angeles area and the surrounding suburbs has convinced De La Hoya that a resurgence in the sport has taken hold.

So what has changed after 11 years of closure?

More than a few point to the surge in new condos in the downtown L.A. area that had been abandoned and forgotten for the past 50 years. Lately, condos are springing up near L.A. Live in the south to Little Tokyo in the north. With the new condos have come thousands of hipsters, students and urban dwellers.

Restaurants, night clubs, and cafes are shooting up in areas that were lost in darkness for decades. It was those same areas that had formerly scared off visitors and customers. Now the streets are filled with night-goers including a vibrant boxing crowd whenever a fight card is held.

The Belasco Theater has flaunted a walk-up crowd that waits in line at 3:30 p.m. for the doors to open 90 minutes later. Several blocks south sits the Olympic Auditorium that seats 10,000. It’s an inviting arena originally built for boxing in the late 1920s.

Located on Grand Avenue and 18th Street, alongside the Santa Monica Freeway, the Olympic Auditorium had provided one of the most vibrant scenes for boxing. All-time greats like Bert Colima, Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson, Manuel Ortiz, Baby Arizmendi, Art “The Golden Boy” Aragon, Enrique Bolanos, Jimmy Carter and many more fought among sold out crowds.

“People Threw Beer”

The square-shaped building could seat 14,000 fans in its heyday and almost every seat was a good seat. The person sitting in the last row was practically right on top of the arena with its vertical set up. Of course there were negatives because of the seating arrangements.

“People threw beer and piss from those balcony seats,” said George Rodriguez, 75, a frequent visitor to many of the fights from the 1950s until the arena closed its doors in 2005. “You never knew what they would throw.”

From the inauspicious beginnings in 1925 when heavyweight world champion Jack Dempsey shoveled some dirt in front of cameras for the ground breaking ceremony until an even more sedate ending when Vernie Torres fought Sal Casillas in the final bout held at the Olympic Auditorium on June 10, 2005, it’s the thousands of moments in between that burn in the memories of those who entered the brown colored fight arena.

“My dad would drop me off in line to buy tickets,” said Amado Avila, who was eight years old when he first watched a fight card in the Olympic Auditorium in 1942 and would later fight in the same venue as an adult. “I would have to wait for hours. The lines were real long. Sometimes older men would try to butt in but I wouldn’t let them.”

It was the ticket everybody wanted and the best place to be seen.

Bennie Georgino, who recently passed away two weeks ago, grew up in nearby Lincoln Heights and remembers vividly the fight scene that blossomed around the famous venue.

“It wasn’t the only place that had boxing,” said Georgino who also fought there as an amateur and later became a trainer, manager and promoter. “But it was an event. People wanted to be there, to be part of it. They fought over season tickets.”

“In those days if you had a season ticket on the bottom it was like gold. People didn’t want to give those up. There was nothing else like it.”

Mexican-American fighters made up a large percentage of the fight cards but Irish, Italian, Jewish, Filipino and African-American pugilists also poured their sweat and blood in the boxing ring.

Whittier Flash and others

One of the first popular Mexican fighters to participate in main events inside the Olympic Auditorium was Bert Colima, who grew up in nearby Whittier and developed a following that started in 1919.

“My father always spoke fondly of those days,” says Bert Colima Jr. who recently wrote and published a book on his father called Gentleman of the Ring: The Bert Colima Story. “He used to take me around and introduce me to the old fighters.”

Colima fought a number of great fighters in his day from welterweight to light heavyweight. The speedy boxer with clever footwork fought and beat Tiger Thomas in the main event in 1927 at the L.A. arena. He later tangled but loss to the great Mickey Walker.

The fighter known as the “Whittier Flash,” was one of the early Mexican draws in the West Coast. Other’s had come before like Mexican Joe Rivers and Solly (Garcia) Smith, but Colima became a real magnet for Mexican fight fans.

Of course that’s not to discount the fans of other ethnicities.

In the beginning the Filipino boxers were very prevalent and their fans arrived in droves.

“Speedy Dado was a very popular fighter in the Depression,” says Leonard Castillon, 95, before he passed away in 2011. “He was a real fancy dresser. All of the Filipinos were fancy dressers.”

Dado fought 152 pro bouts with many taking place in the Olympic Auditorium where he attracted large crowds including many Filipino boxing fans. From 1925 to 1940 the bantamweight prizefighter fought some of the very best. His first appearance in L.A. was against Louie Contreras in a victory, and then he fought Newsboy Brown and suffered his first loss. He became a popular fighter and had battles against Midget Wolgast, Canto Robleto, and Freddie Miller who he fought for the featherweight world championship.

“He was an action fighter,” said the late Luis Magana, who served as a publicist for the Olympic Auditorium from the 1930s until the 1980s. “His fights with Canto Robleto were very good.”

Magana, who passed away in 2008, said in an interview in 1999, that unknown to many people Robleto was legally blind after two detached retinas near the end of his short career that spanned 31 fights.

“He would tell them (his corner) to point him in the right direction,” said Magana, whose father was one of the first publicists for the Olympic Auditorium. “Robleto fought Speedy Dado six times.”

Baby Arizmendi, a diminutive Mexican boxer with a thick neck and muscular physique, became another huge favorite of fight fans. The bull neck boxer is best known for his wars with the one boxer who is considered one of the greatest prizefighters of all time Henry Armstrong.

Armstrong and Arizmendi fought each other a total of five rollicking times with the last taking place on Jan. 10, 1940 for the welterweight world championship. Their first encounter took place 1934 in Mexico City where Arizmendi won by decision. The rematch also took place in Mexico City but this time in 1935 they fought for the featherweight world title and again Arizmendi pulled out a win over “Homicide Hank.”

In 1936 Armstrong took the featherweight title with a 10-round victory at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Two years later Armstrong accepted Arizmendi’s challenge and both met at the Olympic Auditorium in 1938. Armstrong won again and in their final encounter too at the historic Olympic. Armstrong’s last appearance at the famed venue took place in Feb. 26, 1945, he won by decision against a boxer named Genaro Rojo. Armstrong would fight one more time in Oakland and finally retire. Later, he would return to Los Angeles to live. He was killed during a break-in at his home in October 1988.

Others who made their mark at the illustrious Olympic were Art “The Golden Boy” Aragon who could fill the arena faster than anyone before or since his last fight; especially when he fought Mexican favorite Enrique Bolanos.

“I cried when Bolanos lost,” said Johnny Ortiz who passed away in 2014 and formerly co-managed the Main Street Gym. “Enrique Bolanos was my favorite boxer and Art Aragon just was too strong for him.”

Heavyweights also fought in the Olympic. Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis was too big a draw for the Olympic and fought in nearby Wrigley Field, but others like Ken Norton, Joe Frazier and Jerry Quarry worked their stuff at the L.A. boxing palace. Norton lost to Venezuela’s Jose Luis Garcia at the Olympic in 1970. Frazier, though he did not lose, blew by three consecutive opponents in the Olympic then discovered that a roly-poly looking fighter George “Scrap Iron” Johnson was a whole different matter.

“Joe Frazier always moved forward and just annihilated everyone in front of him,” said Bill O’Neil, a former boxing writer from the Whittier area. “When he fought old Scrap Iron that was the first and last time I ever saw Frazier on his toes. He found out Scrap Iron was a little too tough. It was an amazing thing to watch.”

Two Mandos

Mando Ramos led the charge during the late 1960s with his skinny legs, speedy blows and power in his lightweight frame. He became the youngest to win a lightweight world title when at 20 he knocked out Carlos Teo Cruz in the 11th round in February 1969. Ramos could sell out the Olympic Auditorium.

Jackie McCoy managed Ramos and told me back in the 1990s that the kid from San Pedro was one of the most talented boxers in his memory.

“He could do everything and do it well,” said McCoy who passed away in 1997. “But I had to babysit him every day. He would sneak out of his house and go drinking all night.”

Ramos career didn’t last long. But a short time later another Mando came along.

Mando Muniz was a former U.S. Olympian in 1968 and then moved into the pro ranks. He was an instant success with his pressure fighting style and inability to make a boring fight. Fans loved his gutsy style that saw him in title fights against Jose Napoles and Carlos Palomino. His very last bout came against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978.

“If Carlos Palomino was the Cadillac of the era, then Mando Muniz was the Chevrolet, because he was built tough. Muniz will forever be our “Uncrowned Champ” due to the horrendous decision he suffered in Acapulco, Mexico vs. Napoles. It could be called the crime of the century in the ring,” said Gene Aguilera, author of Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles about Muniz’s loss to Napoles for the title.

Aguilera, whose book was published in 2014, was a regular at the Olympic Auditorium and saw many of its five star fights in the 1970s and 1980s. Another of his favorites was Bobby Chacon.

“Schoolboy Bobby Chacon was one of the greatest fighters from Southern California. He had it all: natural skill, charisma, and knockout power in both hands. But becoming a two-time world champion also provided Chacon a vehicle he couldn’t always control,” Aguilera said.

Chacon, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Albert Davila, Ruben Navarro, Art Frias, Jaime Garza and Richie Sandoval are just some of the others that shed their blood, sweat and tears in the Olympic boxing ring.

De La Hoya says a return of the Olympic and a return of that golden era is one of his primary goals.

“I want to make boxing big again like the old days,” said De La Hoya while at a recent fight card at Belasco. “I want it to be a fight town again.”

Golden Boy Promotions has found great success with its boxing shows at the Belasco Theater which is a mere half mile away. The larger Olympic fits right into its plans.

“I want boxing to be big again like is used to be,” said De La Hoya who won his first world title inside its doors in 1994 by stopping Denmark’s Jimmi Bredahl for the WBO super featherweight title. “Wouldn’t that be great?”


Check out the latest news and videos at The Boxing Channel


The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges



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).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel


Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

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



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.”


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 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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?




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’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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading