Connect with us

Canada & Usa

Muhammad Ali 1942-2016: A Tribute to “The Greatest”



Muhammad Ali 1942-2016

Muhammad Ali 1942-2016 – He came into the world as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on Jan. 17, 1942, in Louisville, Ky., the son of Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., a handsome, loquacious sign painter, and his wife, Odessa Grady Clay, a church-going woman who tried to instill into her two sons the virtues of hard work, humility and respect for their elders.

He departed this mortal coil in a Phoenix hospital on Friday night, June 3, 2016, as Muhammad Ali, 74, arguably the foremost heavyweight champion ever, and the most widely known human being in the second half of the 20th century.  And while the self-proclaimed GOAT (“Greatest of All Time”) retained some of the traits of his birth parents – the good looks and braggadocio of his father, to be sure, and, just as surely, the diligence of his mother, a household domestic – everything else he would become might seem to be a hodgepodge of other influences: an unidentified bicycle thief, a preening wrestler named Gorgeous George, Sugar Ray Robinson, Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Nelson Mandela, maybe even a touch of Mother Teresa.

But although some would argue otherwise, the most defining element of Muhammad Ali, and the cornerstone of his legend, is quite likely something he found within himself as he reached out to touch the brightest stars in the constellation and somehow became one himself.

“Who made me is me,” he always insisted. On other occasions, he noted that “My only fault is that I don’t realize how great I really am … I am the greatest, and I said that even before I knew I was.”

The vainglorious side of a boxer who transcended boxing was off-putting to many, and drew the admiration of countless others, but Ali forever understood that the fastest way to draw attention to himself, apart from his luminescent talent in the ring, was to, well, call attention to himself.

“Silence is golden,” he observed, “but only when you can’t think of a good answer.”

Ironically, Ali, whose rise to the top of his brutal profession launched a tidal wave of nicknames, not all of which were complimentary (at various times he was labeled the “Louisville Lip,” “Cash the Brash,” “Mighty Mouth” and “Gaseous Cassius”) had been all but silenced over the past two decades by the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s syndrome, a neurological affliction doctors attributed to the accumulation of blows to the head that affected his speech and motor skills. At the time of his death, Ali had not driven a car for 23-plus years, and it was left to his attentive and protective fourth wife, Lonnie, whom he married in 1986, to serve as the interpreter of his almost-inaudible raspings, or perhaps even to pronounce in her own words what she thought he would have said, if only he were still able to say it.

Not that any of that mattered. Even as he became a shell of his once-robust physical self, virtually voiceless and unable to walk without assistance, there were those who took it upon themselves to speak out on his behalf.  Where once there had been an indisputably magnificent boxer and just as indisputably a polarizing figure during the turbulent 1960s and ’70s, there now stood (or, more likely, sat) a beloved philanthropist and humanitarian, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 and the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in 2012. Derided in some quarters as a draft-dodger for refusing induction into the Army in 1967, and for his denouncement of white people as “devils,” Ali in his dotage had become a universally sympathetic figure in large part because of such good works as his various missions to deliver food and medical supplies to developing countries, and as a fundraiser for Special Olympics and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Research Center in Phoenix.

When Ali’s selection as the Liberty Medal recipient for 2012 was announced, former President Bill Clinton gushingly said, “Ali embodies the spirit of the Liberty Medal by embracing the ideals of the Constitution – freedom, self-governance, equality and empowerment – and helping spread them across the globe.”

But as was the case with another iconic figure, Elvis Presley, whose career also was neatly divided into two segments – the lithe, rebellious, hip-shaking 1950s rock ’n’ roll idol and the plumper, jumpsuited incarnation playing Vegas in the ’70s – there were two separate and distinct Alis, both in and out of the ring. There was the sleek, pre-exile version (prevented from fighting for 43 months while his conscientious objection to military service was wending its way to the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in his favor), whose balletic movements and blurring hand speed transformed a blood sport into an art form, and the older, heavier model whose ability to absorb frightful punishment and come back firing was no less mesmerizing.

The best of Ali, in Phase 1, probably was on display the night of Nov. 14, 1966, in the Astrodome, in a WBA title defense against the dangerous Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams. That Ali disassembled Williams in three rounds, the knockout sequence a rapid-fire combination that had the challenger’s skull vibrating like a bobblehead doll. It was a study of pugilistic perfection, his hands as blurringly quick as the flapping of a hummingbird’s wings.

The Ali who returned to his craft after 3½ years off, although still a superb fighter, was different in Phase 2 – a bit heavier, a smidgen slower, more apt to be on the receiving end but still able to fight through the rough patches he hardly ever had to previously endure. Still, that Ali won two of three classic wars with his fiercest rival, Joe Frazier, and he upset the seemingly invincible George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

“Ali before the layoff was a better fighter than Ali after,” his late trainer, Angelo Dundee, said in 1995. “What a lot of people don’t realize, and it’s sad, is we never saw him at his peak.

“The Ali who fought Cleveland Williams and Zora Foley was the best he could be at that time, but he was getting bigger and stronger and more experienced in the ring. What was he, 25 years old when they made him stop? Those next three years would have been his peak. If he had continued getting better at the rate he was going, God only knows how great he would have been.”

There is a possibility, of course, that Ali’s light would have shone just as brightly had he heeded another calling, but having a genius for something doesn’t necessarily translate to having genius at everything. It took a serendipitous moment when he was just 12 years old – a theft which, at the time, seemed an outrage — for the then-Cassius Clay Jr. to discover what fate had in store for him. Thus was boxing history eventually written in towering, indelible letters.

It was that bicycle thief who made off with young Cassius’ new ride in the summer of 1954 that set destiny into motion. Clay had pedaled to the Louisville Service Club, where local businessmen were giving away free balloons and ice cream to the kids, but when it was time for him to leave, he discovered his bike was missing. Incensed, he was directed to a Louisville police officer, Joe Martin, who was also the boxing coach at the nearby Columbia Gym.

“If I find out who stole my bike, I’m gonna whup him,” Clay told Martin.

Replied Martin: “You better learn to fight before you start fighting.”

So Clay arrived the next afternoon at the Columbia Gym, where he became enthralled with the rat-tat-tat sound of other kids hitting the speed bags, the thud of their punches on the heavy bags, the grace of their rope-skipping. He continued to come back every day, each visit helping to formulate his plan for what he could and would do to make his mark in the world.

He was very good, but not quite unbeatable in the early stages of his boxing development, winning 100 of 108 amateur bouts. Along the way he won amassed six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two National Golden Gloves titles, an AAU national title and an Olympic gold medal in Rome in 1960, beating Poland’s Zbigniew Pietrzykowski in the final. His natural effervescence was such that he became known as the “Mayor of the Olympic Village,” a chatterbox who talked up everyone, regardless of race or nationality, his preferred topic of conversation being his absolute certainty that he would someday become the best that ever was.

“I can still see him strutting around the Olympic Village with his gold medal on,” the late Wilma Rudolph, the great Olympic sprinter on whom Clay had developed a crush, once said. “He slept with it. He went to the cafeteria with it. He never took it off. No one else cherished it the way he did.”

It came as a shock to some, then, when Clay, who by then had changed his name to Muhammad Ali, claimed that he had taken that gold medal and flung it off a bridge in Louisville in reaction to the racism he encountered upon his return from the Olympics. But as a child growing up in the Jim Crow South, hadn’t he previously been exposed to racism? A contrary opinion, expressed by some who knew him then, suggests that he had simply lost the gold medal, and told the tale of throwing it into the Ohio River because it furthered an agenda that suited his purposes.

By any measure, however, his professional ascendance as a fighter was rapid, as was his decision to cast himself as a chest-thumping narcissist in the mold of one of his early role models, Gorgeous George.

“A lot of people will pay to see someone shut your mouth,” the blond-tressed wrestler told Clay. “So keep on bragging, keep on sassing, and always be outrageous.”

It was that Clay who, heading into his Feb. 25, 1964, title bout with the menacing champion, Sonny Liston, in Miami Beach, came across as a hyperventilating, out-of-control and seemingly terrified young man of 22. Ninety-three percent of boxing writers in one poll picked Liston, a 7-to-1 favorite, to zip the Louisville Lip, perhaps permanently. And that perception wasn’t entirely incorrect. Clay’s public confidence did in fact mask a private fear.

“That’s the only time I was ever scared in the ring,” Ali later told David Remnick, one of his several biographers. “Sonny Liston. First time. First round. Said he was gonna kill me.”

But the first round came and went with no hint of impending disaster, and Clay – who had pronounced that “I’m gonna put that ugly bear (Liston) on the floor” – almost did just that, so bedazzling and battering the champion that he declined to come out for the sixth round of a bout in which he had fallen almost hopelessly behind on points. There suddenly was a new king of boxing, a heavyweight who moved like a lightweight, spoke loud and proud, and had the unmarked, striking visage of a matinee idol.

The next day, Cassius Clay announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam, commonly known as the Black Muslims, and had had taken a new name, Cassius X. That would again change, as he demanded to be called Muhammad Ali for the May 25, 1965, rematch with Liston in Lewiston, Maine, a bout which Ali won on a controversial first-round knockout.

From then on, he was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, every nuanced difference in or out of the ring confounding those who sought to analyze and dissect him as if he were a laboratory test animal. He was at once a proponent of black supremacy who would not dismiss the white members (Dundee, Ferdie Pacheco, Gene Kilroy) of his support team, despite the insistence of his Nation of Islam brothers, and who gleefully signed autographs and performed magic tricks for kids of all colors and creeds. He was praised for being a thought-provoking activist for social change, a man of deep convictions and beliefs, despite his academic shortcomings (he finished 376th out of 391 students in his graduating class at all-black Central High) and lack of specifics on some of the issues he espoused.

Lionized in any number of books, essays and film treatments, the more positive aspects of Muhammad Ali have been called into question by a few dissidents, the most notable perhaps being the late Mark Kram, who authored “Ghosts of Manila: The Fateful Blood Feud Between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier,” which forwards the notion that the deification of Ali could not have occurred without the unfair diminishment of Smokin’ Joe.

“Current hagiographers have tied themselves into knots trying to elevate Ali into a heroic, defiant catalyst of the anti-war movement, a beacon of black independence,” wrote Kram, who covered Ali during 11 years at Sports Illustrated. “It’s a legacy that evolves from the intellectually loose ’60s, from those who were in school then and now write romance history … Seldom has a public figure of such superficial depth been more wrongly perceived – by the right and the left.”

But whether Ali fully understood what he had achieved even while he was in the process of achieving it is hardly the issue. The end result, as is the case in a boxing match or while grappling with life’s more intricate mysteries, is usually all that matters. Some historical figures remain relevant centuries after the fact, and there is a better than good chance that school children in the 22nd century and beyond will be writing term papers on Muhammad Ali that will contain little or no mention of stolen bicycles, trite poetry or the Rope-a-Dope. Whether he set out to do it or not, Ali, a three-time heavyweight champion, changed the culture of America at a time when it was ripe for change.

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and there have been many boxers – Greg Page and Larry Donald are among those who come to mind – who thought they could tear a page or two out of the Muhammad Ali playbook and somehow be just like the original. There are street-corner shouters with bullhorns (Al Sharpton, maybe?) who make the same mistake, to their detriment. Copycats, no matter what their intent, always embark on a fool’s mission.

Muhammad Ali was one of a kind, and his passing leaves a void that can’t and won’t be filled any time soon.

Read author Thomas Hauser’s poem paying homage to the legendary Ali.


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