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Las Vegas Journal: Canelo’s Way



Canelo's Way

Canelo’s Way – It all began in the patio of my favorite L.A. hangout El Cholo’s where margaritas are like nectar from the Aztec world of chinampas and pyramids.

Met with K-2’s Tom Loeffler and ABC’s Alysha Del Valle on a Wednesday afternoon where we talked about all things boxing including the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Amir “King” Khan fight in Las Vegas.

Loeffler, for those who do not recognize the name, directs K-2 that promotes the world of prizefighting’s most dangerous fighter Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin. He’s the real middleweight world champion.

We talked about the next steps toward a mega showdown with Canelo and Triple G and of course we shared predictions. Between the three of us the stunning Del Valle accurately predicted a sixth round knockout by the Mexican redhead.

Never underestimate women.

The margaritas at El Cholos kick in fast, but, not enough to deter the boxing talk that flowed freely for the next two hours. It was a great afternoon to kick off Cinco de Mayo weekend.

The drive to Las Vegas is usually long and frustrating if you go at the wrong time. I picked Thursday to avoid the crush of traffic heading through the desert to Las Vegas and its ever-changing neon scenery.

I stayed at the Westgate Hotel this time around. They recently updated their sportsbook and it remains one of the best. It’s a major reason I like staying there. The crowds are back at the hotel that was originally the Hilton. It’s been fancied up and if you closed your eyes you could imagine you were back in the 70s when Elvis Presley used to perform there regularly.

That Thursday night I spent talking on the Two-Minute Round podcast that focuses on female prizefighting. We had as our guests WBC female middleweight titlist Kali Reis of Rhode Island and Maricela Cornejo of California who fought each other in New Zealand last month. Check it out on Facebook. We also had Brian Cohen who manages Melissa St. Vil, Nydia Feliciano and Ronica Jeffrey who all fought and won on the same New Zealand fight card.

The podcast went longer than expected so after it concluded the time was spent preparing for the festivities planned by Golden Boy Promotions for the next two days.


Las Vegas constantly changes every year. The first time I ever visited the land of casinos in the early 1970s it was mostly desert on the west side of the Interstate-15 Highway. Now there are residences all the way to the mountains.

The T-Mobile Arena is the newest of the monoliths built off the Las Vegas Strip. When it was first mentioned I wondered where they were going to fit the venue in between the New York, New York Hotel and Casino and the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino.

Finding parking was a problem. On one side they were not allowing people to park and on the other side parking was allowed but you don’t know it exists until you walk there. Parking is not free.

No more free parking is the edict of MGM properties which I think is a very bad idea. They’re installing barriers and mechanical arms for automatic pay devices. I guess they don’t want customers at their venues.

On Friday afternoon the Toshiba Plaza in front of the T-Mobile Arena was packed with several thousand fans. People had been grumbling that low attendance was expected, but this was a madhouse crush of people eager to see the Canelo-Khan weigh-ins. Mariachis, DJs, food trailers, Tecate girls, two boxing rings and Tattoo emceeing the whole shindig did their thing to the roaring approval of the boxing crazy fans that showed up.

Excitement was in the air.

Rain had been dropping here and there but it didn’t deter those crazy fans from checking out the festivities. I had predicted on HBO that fans were going to show up. Cinco de Mayo is an excuse for Latino fans to visit Vegas, drink, gamble, and have a good time. When you add someone like Canelo to the mix, well, it’s going to be a party.

Every fighter seemed to make weight as it suddenly got cold. The fighters were shivering, the Tecate girls were shivering, and those fans on the third and fourth floor of the nearby parking structure hanging over the ledge must have been shivering too.

After the weigh-ins it was time to watch the free-to-the-public fight card outside on the huge Toshiba Plaza.

I sat with’s new editor-in-chief Arne Lang as fighters were rushed in to fight. Sitting behind us was elite trainer Manny Robles who has a number of tremendous prospects such as Ireland’s Jason Quigley. Exchanging viewpoints and conversation with Robles is pretty eye-opening. He knows his stuff and is a class act.

We watched little known Eric Ruiz of Oxnard battle Mexico’s Horacio Garcia, a member of Team Canelo and the expected winner. But if you had ever seen Ruiz fight before and were a betting man you would have plunked down money on him. He’s one of those guys with very good skills but lacks the serious firepower that most world champions possess. But he has heart and skills and that’s enough to upset any pretender to the throne.

Robles had seen Ruiz many times before, just as I had. We both commented on his abilities and foresaw an upset if Garcia took him lightly.

Ruiz was simply too slick the first half of the fight. He was knocking Garcia around and had him seeing stars in the fourth round. But the second half of the fight, although he was ahead on most people’s scorecards, he took his foot off the gas a little and allowed Garcia to appear to be back in control. Though Garcia never could hurt Ruiz – who has a good chin – he applied pressure and Ruiz did not punch enough in the end to maintain dominance. This allowed the judges to score the fight a draw. It was not. But that’s the story of Ruiz’s boxing life so far.

In a co-main event, Marvin Quintero of Mexico clashed with Russia’s Petr Petrov in a lightweight matchup set for 10 rounds. Quintero is trained by Tijuana’s master trainer Romulo Quirarte who along with his son has been supplying the boxing world with talent for decades. The Quirarte’s are also among the classiest in the sport. Too bad the boxing world doesn’t have more like them. Wonderful people

On this night Quintero clashed heads with Petrov in the very first round and referee Jay Nady seemingly pointed it out as a clash of heads. Quintero’s eye began to swell badly. Later, when a ringside physician ruled Quintero could not continue, Nady retracted his earlier hand signal that the cut and swelling was caused by a butt and said it was a punch. Because he ruled it a punch, Quintero was the loser by technical knockout instead of it going to the scorecards.


Petrov, who fought well, was ruled the winner and moves forward. Meanwhile, Quintero takes the loss despite performing well. It was one of those fights that was perfectly matched. After the fight, both fighters were good sports. They even met again later at the hospital where they both needed attention. Both Petrov and Quintero took a photo together for the hospital staff who eagerly took care of them.

At the conclusion of the fight card I met with Muhammad Mubarak a fellow journalist and good friend. He advised me that a fundraising event for the Nevada Hall of Fame was being held nearby so we walked over. At the hosting table was Laura Serrano a former female lightweight world champion. She graciously greeted us then personally guided us to the second floor area where the festivities were taking place. Serrano is such a nice woman with a great demeanor. But when she was a fighter she was as fierce as they come and the first female from Mexico to win a world title to my knowledge.

Inside, we immediately met with Layla McCarter and her trainer Luis Tapia who were conversing with Leon Spinks and his brother Michael Spinks. Everybody was taking photos of each other. It was quite a scene.

Also, Ava Knight was inside. She just fought a week ago in Mexico and was the winner. Others inside were Badou Jack, Zab Judah, Kevin Kelley, and many more. After 45 minutes Muhammad and I departed to the MGM Grand where an art auction was taking place. It was sponsored by Bernard Hopkins and several others in one of the swanky places where private parties are held. It was an open bar filled with model-looking women and a few professional prizefighters and business-like people swilling wine. The auction did not go too well so it was stopped early. We headed out our separate ways. Tomorrow was going to be a long and big day.


Drove over early to the T-Mobile Arena to pick up my credentials. While standing in line I ran into Alysha Del Valle who was there to pick up credentials too. We spoke to several notables including retired referee Joe Cortez and took some photos with him.

It was an early fight card so I didn’t have time to get lunch or dinner. A good thing I had an early breakfast with James Pena who trains Melinda Cooper and assisted Romulo Quirarte with Quintero. That breakfast kept me going all day.

The Golden Boy Promotions fight card for Saturday was heavy with prospects I wanted to see including the Irish middleweight Quigley. He has all the tools needed to move forward and on this night he was fighting James De La Rosa of Texas. If any of you remember the Texan he upset Alfredo “Perro” Angulo when they fought a short time ago. De La Rosa can hit and has skills. He did hit Quigley on Saturday night but was unable to match the Irish fighter’s athleticism. But the main thing is he did connect to the chin of Quigley. I always say you can’t tell if a fighter has what it takes to go all the way unless he can take a punch. A fighter can be fast, strong, tall, and hit like a ton of bricks, but if he can’t take a punch he’s not going anywhere. Quigley answered that question on Saturday night.

Another prospect answering some questions was Diego De La Hoya. The cousin of Oscar De La Hoya is managed by Joel De La Hoya who matched him against undefeated Rocco Santomauro. Many suggested it was a dangerous test for De La Hoya but once the fight started, it was clear he had superior hand-speed, skills and dominated the fight.

Santomauro was trained by Sugar Shane Mosley for this fight and was well-prepared. But sometimes a fight on paper doesn’t come out the way it’s supposed to come out. On this night De La Hoya looked like a veteran using clever moves and fought like a killer in there. He has a mean streak inside the ring. He was battering Santomauro when his trainer Mosley wisely stopped the fight. In my eyes, that move by Mosley saved the kid’s career and showed me that the Pomona fighter is a very good trainer. It was the best move of the night.

The big fight turned out just like everyone supposed. But for a while Khan did his thing with style and looked like Alvarez’s equal until that big overhand right disconnected the Englishman’s legs from him.

It’s always scary to see someone on the floor motionless. I said a small prayer for Khan to recover. I’ve witnessed many deaths in the boxing ring and didn’t want to see another. I love our sport but this is also one of the deadliest. Near a dozen die every year.

When Khan got up it was an instant relief.

Seeing Canelo concerned for his foe was a good thing to watch. The redhead is fierce in the ring but classy otherwise.

However, as soon as the post-fight press conference began, of course, all the talk was directed toward a match with Triple G who was in the ring as a guest.

Poor Canelo. He couldn’t even take a breath to enjoy the moment. That’s the way it is when you’re among the elite. Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya remembers and he shared that with the press afterwards.

You can’t satisfy everyone.

All during the fight I watched with a smile as 16,300 excited fans packed the new arena. A couple of weeks ago Triple G packed 16,000 fans in the Fabulous Forum. Together they should be able to pack Dodger Stadium, Cowboy Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Azteca Stadium in Mexico City or just about any venue.

A couple of years ago the prospect of this mega fight happening would have made some people burst out laughing. But here we are.

All the way home I thought about my plans for the mega mega fight for the middleweight world title between Triple G and Canelo. It was a good drive.

Just before I stepped in the car to leave Las Vegas someone mentioned Floyd Mayweather was coming back to fight. Another guy replied “So what?”

No one could have said it better.



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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


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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

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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.

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