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The 50 Greatest Welterweights of all Time Part Two: 40-31

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50 Greatest Welterweights – Boxing’s history is so rich and so deep that a task such as this one can, at times, seem overwhelming.  Part Two really underlines that richness, and that associated difficulty.

 We delve all the way back into the shadowed 1900s, a time before fight footage was the norm and when aggression was prized above almost all else, while holding and wrestling were, ironically, far more common.  From here we arrow through the 1940s when great and feared black fighters were underrepresented in both the media we rely upon so heavily to understand them and the championship rings upon which we rely to reveal limitations – and greatness.  We must then compare these men to the wonderful welterweights of the 1970s in all their colored glory.  It’s like contrasting a distant and foggy dream with a vivid, overpowering reality.

But that is what understanding history is.  It is not easy and nor should it be; as the man once said, if it isn’t hard, you’re not doing it right.

#40 – Cocoa Kid (176-56-11)

Springs Toledo, in his series of articles on Herbert Hardwick, aka The Cocoa Kid, names both Barney Ross and Henry Armstrong as having ducked or avoided the Kid during their respective glittering title reigns.

Ranking as the #1 contender in the eyes of most for most of 1940, it is hard to reject the roots of this claim.  Cocoa Kid did great work through the late 1930s and early 1940s before drifting up to middleweight where he continued to distinguish himself, if not quite as boldly.

At 147 lbs, he did eventually corner himself a title shot of sorts, taking on Izzy Jannazzo for the Maryland sponsored strap he was waving about; the Kid blew it.

But that doesn’t mean that he didn’t do good work while he waited in vain.  Cocoa Kid dominated the great middleweight Holman Williams when he resided at welterweight so completely that Williams cannot rank here; he utterly dominated the legendary Eddie Booker.  Ranked men fell too, among them Earl Turner and Joe Legon who both rated at some point in the top five, as did Holman Williams.

A lot of what is most interesting about Hardwick is unsavory.  Business deals, intimidation, the repression of the worthy black fighters by a segregated society.  Here, he ranks based upon what he actually did rather than who he might have been, or what he could have done – and the spot he inhabits comes very close to naming him a lock for the top fifty.

#39 – Rube Ferns (45-19-9; Newspaper Decisions 1-0)

Perennially absurdly dressed, Rube Ferns was made of iron.  He won the title 1900 from the legendarily filthy Billy Smith who spent much of the fight yo-yoing Ferns up and down from the canvas before handing him the title on a foul.  Despite his extraordinary display of heart, winning a title on a foul is not something that leads to a champion’s respect and so Ferns settled down to establishing one of the more extraordinary welterweight title runs of his era, ending with a 7-2 ledger in fights fought for the world’s championship.

The second of these two title losses came at the hands of the butcher that was the Barbados Demon, Joe Walcott, and certainly there is no shame attached to this defeat.  The second came the year before in his third title defense, the second of three championship fights with the forgotten Matty Matthews.  Matthews was a sharp, clever and experienced boxer who was considered for the #50 spot on this list but he was firmly out-pointed in his first shot at Ferns in a fight entertaining enough that a rematch was called for.  Ferns suffered badly in the run up to the second fight with open sores on his shoulder and reportedly suffered from blood-poisoning.  Rube being Rube he went ahead with the fight and found himself out-jabbing Matthews but losing out in the extended exchanges on the inside.  The title passed from him.

He won it back in 1901 with an outstanding knockout of Matthews and turned in two more title defenses before the Demon got him.  One of those was against the reigning lightweight champion Frank Erne. Ferns dropped Erne in the very first round.  Cut and bleeding by the ninth he nevertheless pursued his fellow champion relentlessly and finished him with a left-right combination.

I’ve always been surprised that the victory over Erne combined with his victory in the epic series with Matthews (which ended 6-2 to Ferns counting non-title matches) and his seven successful title fights did not add up to more fame for this welterweight king.  He has become something of a footnote.  Inconsistency and a heavy serving of losses means he can’t rank any higher than he does here – but Ferns deserves a little better than that.

#38 –Billy Smith (32-22-26; Newspaper Decisions 2-3-1)

“Mysterious” Billy Smith’s paper record is a horror-show in this type of company, although there are a few mitigating factors; two ill-advised comebacks in 1910 and 1915 didn’t help but it was the run-in prior to his first retirement that really hurt him: he won just one of his last seventeen fights.  He probably made an inauspicious start to boxing, too, winning just half of his first twenty-two recorded contests, though like so many other fighters who turned professional in the 1800s some details of his record are probably lost.

Smith also carried a hair-trigger temperament, and an aggression in the fight to match.  As described, he was beating Rube Ferns in their incredible 1900 contest before fouling out and losing on a disqualification, something he managed to do on around a dozen occasions.  Finally, he fought consistently and often at the highest level.  Smith engaged in as many world-title contests as he suffered disqualifications and his final ledger is a respectable one at 5-2-2.

This is not quite as good as Rube Ferns, but in one further regard, Smith was ill-fortuned: he shared a welterweight era with Joe Walcott, and with the incredible Tommy Ryan.  Ryan was always beyond him; too cool to ruffle, too tough to buckle, Ryan went undefeated against Smith, who received numerous shots at the great man – but he did manage to dig out a win against Walcott.

Most interesting about that fight was that Smith managed to drop his granite-jawed foe and seemed on the verge of knocking him out – Walcott survived but Smith took by far his greatest win on points.  It is tempered by the fact that Smith got a dozen shots at either Ryan or Walcott and managed just this single win.  Still, he was held in high regard by his peers despite his well-earned status as boxing’s dirtiest fighter and it is impressive that he was able to carve out his own title reigns, wearing the championship belts for two lengthy spells.

#37 Mike Glover (30-5-5; Newspaper Decisions 32-10-10)

For anyone who says anything but “who?” upon reading this entry: sir, I salute you.

Mike Glover is far from a household name, and aside from in Boston, where he was thoroughly admired, this was probably true in his own era too.  Retrospectively, he is credited with holding the legitimate welterweight championship of the world by the likes of Cyber Boxing Zone but the fact is that his claim appears to have been generally unheralded as being any more legitimate than numerous other such claims.  As trade paper Boxing put it in January of 1914, “all an American boxer needs to do to win a recognized word championship is to go around night and day shouting that he is THE champion”.  Whilst this is harsh, it is true that the man with the best publicity often won the title in the temple when his efforts on the battlefield were only moderately convincing; whether or not Glover was such a man I leave to better souls than I to determine.

The reason Glover ranks here is also the reason his claim to the title was not universally recognized.

The twin suns that were Ted “Kid” Lewis and Jack Britton hauled Glover out of orbit and into their gargantuan collective slipstream as early as 1913, the year Glover first met Britton.  Britton met almost every fighter of his generation of any worth – but it is noteworthy that Glover won that fight.  The wire report indicates that he out-boxed Britton, no less, according to one report, using his quick footwork and accurate punching to win seven of the ten rounds according to a second report.  Britton righted this wrong not one but twice, returning the boxing lesson Glover provided in the first, outclassing him in a title fight, but Glover has in his possession one of the most desirable scalps in welterweight history.

More, he became one of the few men to defeat both Britton and Lewis when he outpointed the latter over twelve in their second fight of three, in November 1915.  A stiff jab to the face was key in overcoming prohibitive 5-1 odds as another boxing lesson was handed out against a different kind of immortal.  Like Britton, Lewis went 2-1 against Glover but he has some fine supporting wins to justify his placement here, despite his tragic death aged just 26.

#36 – Pipino Cuevas (35-15)

The tale of Pipino Cuevas is the tale of the very first great disaster inflicted upon the welterweight division by the alphabet madness that is coming so close to destroying the greatest of sports.  In short, either Pipino Cuevas or Carlos Palomino should have emerged from their shared era as among the greatest twenty-fivewelterweights in history.  What prevented this was the fact that both men could hold a “world championship”, could fulfil their personal and financial ambitions without their ever meeting.  This is despite the fact that both men picked up their “world championship” in the same year, staged approximately the same number of defenses and defeated approximately the same number of contenders.  Palomino won his first – Cuevas was a month behind him.  More importantly Cuevas beat a strapholder whereas Palomino beat John H Stracey, who beat Jose Napoles who beat Curtis Cokes, in other words he was the lineal, legitimate champion of the world.

Were there not a series of crooked organizations flogging their belts to often desperate pugilists, Cuevas would have been rabid to get at Palomino; as it was, he just didn’t need him.  And the feeling was mutual.  Palomino’s “true” title reign was undermined by the fact that he never met his #1 contender, and Cuevas’s existed only because of the feverish determination of the WBA to empty boxing of money in any and all ways; this, remember, is the crew that even Bob Arum complained bitterly about in terms of moral fiber.

Cuevas was a brute though, and for all that he wore a strap rather than a title, he was still one of the greatest punchers in the history of the welterweight division.  Worse, he was almost impervious to punishment at his very best, sometimes set back on heels by a good punch but always stalking quickly back into range wearing the look of a man abandoned by God.  He fought thirteen times for that bauble and lost just once, to the monstrous Tommy Hearns, and of the other twelve he won eleven times by knockout, only Randy Shields making the distance in a fight in which Cuevas damaged his left hand.  That left hand was devastating.  It’s a shame he didn’t get to unleash it on Palomino – or even used it to knock out more than the single top five contender he dispatched in his bruising career.

#35 – Carlos Palomino (31-4-3)

Part of what would have made a Carlos Palomino-Cuevas such a wonderful match was the fine counter-balance of their physical gifts.  Cuevas hit like a Mack truck carrying concrete and travelling at 95mph into a reinforced titanium wall and Palomino was as tough as titanium.   And they were both Mexican.  I’ll let that go now…

…there is little to set Palomino apart from his countryman in terms of opposition bested.  Both are short of top-five type opposition with Palomino’s defeat of lineal champion John H Stracey one reasonable way of distinguishing the two.  The problem is that Stracey, who was a good fighter, was not really that different from the type of fighters that the two men feasted on; in fact Stracey lost to Davey Green, who Palomino stopped.

In the end, what sets them apart is probably Palomino’s fewer losses; Cuevas has fifteen, and although there were often good reasons for his defeats it’s enough to see Palomino edge in front of him.  As to his victories, Palomino achieved these through technical surety, mental and physical fortitude and a searing body attack, three of the closest allies of Mexican fighters.

And the fact that he was the lineal welterweight champion of the world in four calendar years does his standing no harm either.

#34 – Wilfred Benitez (53-8-1)

Wilfred Benitez is hampered in his ranking by the numbers.  Although he fought a handful of welterweight contests in the early 1970s before settling down to his famous campaign at 140 lbs, his more significant late 1970s tilt at welterweight boils down to something like 10-1.  In title fights he went 2-1.  Nevertheless, he did meet a series of contenders at the weight and not least the champion, Palomino.  “It was almost like he had a sixth sense,” said the Mexican of the man they nicknamed ‘El Radar’.  “I don’t think I caught him solid in my fight with him.  It seemed like he knew what was coming all the time.”

This is only a slight exaggeration and only a spirited rally from Palomino late in the fight prevented a landslide victory for Benitez who nevertheless won very clearly despite the split decision victory that appears in the record books.  Benitez, still very young, showed the ringcraft of a veteran, moving away and off-center, covering himself with his jab.  Palomino was bamboozled.   This was perhaps the best of Benitez, a concentrated, disciplined performance from a fighter as given to being distracted by what took place at ringside during a fight as the trapping of fame before the fight.  What made it even more extraordinary was that his preparation was a disaster, beset by managerial and training issues.

A converted southpaw, his brilliant left was ably supported by a snappy right, although it should be stressed that he was no puncher, even at 140 lbs. That legitimately observed radar, though, spared him on more than one occasion whether he was badly prepared or sorely tested.  His legendary 1977 split decision victory over the savage Bruce Curry where Benitez was within a hair’s breadth of being stopped – and perhaps should have been stopped – his legs completely gone, is the best example of his defensive prowess as, unable to run, he slipped and slipped and slipped Curry’s punches until he was recovered, staging an absurd rally that brought him the narrowest of decisions.  Benitez dominated him in a rematch.

The highly ranked Harold Weston was defeated in another late rally that underlined the natural conditioning of a young fighter in his prime in Benitez’s only successful defense.  One Ray Leonard out-pointed him for the title.

Benitez only boxed a part of a career at welterweight but it was the important part; further to that, Benitez remains one of history’s more gifted fighters, a difficult match for any of those ranked above him, an enhancement of his welterweight legacy.

#33 – Lou Brouillard (100-31-2; Newspaper Decisions 1-0-1)

Balancing 101 wins against 31 losses is always difficult; here our job is made easier by the divisional distinctions applied to these rankings.  Less than a third of Lou Brouillard’s losses came at welterweight but many of his most crucial wins occurred at the 147 lb limit.

Brouillard turned professional in 1928 after a fine amateur career and after winning his first handful went an “educational” 3-4 from which he emerged onto a forty fight winning streak – interrupted only by a disqualification loss – that would carry him all the way to the world’s welterweight title, at the tender age of twenty.  He couldn’t defend that title in New York as the NYSAC had ruled that a fighter must be twenty-one years old to be matched for a championship.  He was not too young, at just nineteen, to defeat the wonderful veteran “Baby” Joe Gans (89-12-6) breaking his seventeen fight unbeaten streak.  More fights followed, including impressive stoppages of Al Mello and Eddie Moore before he met and thrashed the champion Young Jack Thompson in a non-title fight – an even more dominant display over Thompson followed in a second battle with the championship on the line and Brouillard was king.  Victories over the contender Bucky Lawless and Paul Pirrone and a draw (fought for charity) with Gans followed; Brouillard then had his title finessed from him by the wonderful Jackie Fields and began to flirt with the middleweight division.

Before he departed, Brouillard battered the great Jimmy McLarnin to a decision leaving him cut above the left eye and with welts across his body.   He was a tough and uncompromising southpaw (most of the time), who most certainly goes grossly underrated today.

50 Greatest Welterweights

#32 – Lloyd Honeyghan (43-5)

It is hard to describe the degree to which pound-for-pounder Donald Curry was favored over Lloyd Honeyghan in late 1986.  That Honeyghan was able to get 5-1 for his 5k bet on himself speaks volumes.

“Everyone is scared of Donald Curry,” he offered in the run up to their contest for Curry’s world welterweight championship.  “But I’m not.”

He certainly didn’t look it when the bell for the first sounded, out-jabbing the jabber, out-speeding the speedster and doing it all with a focused aggression that made him the clear winner of the round even as the American commentary team compared Curry to Ezzard Charles and Ray Robinson.

Honeyghan landed a sizzling right in round two and as Curry held on in protection of his title, the Englishman manhandled him as he attempted to land finishing blows.

It was a high energy performance built in equal parts from technical acumen, physical excellence and a steel-wrought determination.  It is one of the definitive title winning performances at the weight (and perhaps at any weight).  This is how you take the title from the champion.  By the time Curry quit in his corner at the end of round six (“I’m through”) he had been hurt to the body and blasted with punches of all types.

This was Honeyghan’s best performance, yes, but it is often forgotten that he cobbled together three defenses of the title, including a wonderful two round destruction of the highly ranked Johnny Bumphus.  This was an enormously confident fighter, throwing the right hand all the way across his stance; Bumphus was positively harassed to the canvas.

He lost his title on a technical decision in a difficult fight to the rugged Jorge Vaca. A clash of heads caused a terrible cut to Vaca and in keeping with the drunken WBC rules, Honeyghan was docked a point for what amounted to an accidental clash of heads before the fight went to the cards for the completed seven rounds – at which point the title was awarded to Vaca by the balance of the point deducted from Honeyghan for accidently bumping into his challenger.

He won the title back and staged a single defense as a two-time champion but lost out to the wonderful Marlon Starling and after then losing to Mark Breland, he departed the division.

His was a splendid and under-celebrated career that saw him run 6-3 in world title fights.  In his prime, he would be a tough night’s work for anyone on this list, including the monsters lurking in the top ten.

#31 – Billy Graham (102-15-9)

For a certain type of fan, Billy Graham will appear underrated here.  I sympathize with that point of view.  Graham, after all, went 52-0-6 before suffering his first loss at the hands of the solid Tony Pellone.  Pellone beat Graham only narrowly but he did it twice.  He held, perhaps, a hex over his technically superior foe; a dominance over an opponent born not of class but style, and perhaps something darker.

Billy Graham held a half-formed hex over the mighty Cuban, Kid Gavilan.

Gavilan will appear in the top ten of this list and I am sure I am spoiling no surprises in announcing that fact.

The first time the two met, Graham won a split decision that was not popular with the press or with Gavilan who immediately requested a date to file a protest.  The win was controversial, although close enough that it cannot be labeled a robbery; Gavilan avenged this loss in a narrow victory nine months later before their third fight in the summer of 1951.  This meeting, more infamous than famed, is notorious and an often cited example of the terrors of Mafia manipulated boxing in the 1950s, but I’m not so sure; the fight is readily available on film, and although I scored it to Graham I had it a very close fight littered with very close rounds.  If the judging in their first fight was questionable but probably not a robbery, this description fits the third fight, also, in my opinion.

Graham lost his fourth match with Gavilan clearly, the Cuban winning as many as eleven of fifteen and despite the controversy that surrounds their 1951 fight, I think Graham got exactly what he deserved out of his series with the legendary Gavilan – a single, narrow win and although it’s unjust that he had a questionable decision rendered against him for the title, nor was it convenient for Gavilan to have a questionable one rendered against him when he stood as the #1 contender to the welterweight title then held by Sugar Ray Robinson.

This keynote win aside, Graham has but a little, the explanation for his ranking here.  A win over Carmen Basilio is nice, but Basilio was unranked, coming off a loss to Chuck Davey, and was 5-4-1 in his last ten.  Indeed, it is when we examine his ranked opposition we see him coming up short: the unheralded Aldo Minelli and Art Aragon (then ranked #9) represents his quill.  Nevertheless, that juicy win over the Kid in tandem with that excellent early consistency and one or two decent supporting wins find him right on the cusp of the top thirty.

 

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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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