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War in the Night Sky: Firpo vs. Dempsey and the Dawn of Boxing in Argentina

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“O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?”

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

They came from every corner of the sprawling, growing metropolis. Thousands of men in black suits and hats, populating the sidewalks and then the streets and then the lawns and the manicured garden patches in front of the majestic new building of the National Congress, until the rectangular confines of the French-style public square could not contain them. Only then did they spill out onto the adjacent streets, murmuring to each other and occasionally gazing at the stars.

They came to witness a confrontation, a clash of titans, two angry celestial bodies colliding in the September sky, two bright comets trying to outshine each other. And the men in black waited, hoping that the building, an unshakable fortified tower strong enough to host a bout between Heaven and Hell within its confines, would project upon them a beacon of hope, a guiding light to take them to the Promised Land they hoped to have reached the very minute they set foot on the very soil they were standing on.

The men in black were not gathered for a protest in front of a government building, and were not there to participate in a conspiracy or a revolution. When the right time came, they didn’t look towards the magnificent neoclassical Argentine Congress building. Instead, they looked the other way, towards a brand new towering structure named after a rich Italian merchant, the tallest building in all of South America at the time and a reinforced concrete-made allegory of one of the world’s defining literary works, as it became the host of the revelation of a historic moment destined to perhaps outlive even the building itself.

The men in black held their collective breath under the starry sky until the light went on. And then, all hell broke loose. Hats in the air, screams of joy, a celebration big enough to inspire an entire nation to achieve things they never thought possible was set in motion by the miracle of that shiny blue lamp, which shone from a 360 degree glass dome as bright as God’s annunciation would shine in the Southern sky.

But just like the building’s elevators, constantly negotiating their way between the Inferno below and the Paradise above and back and forth through Purgatory, the light changed its color, and with it, its message. And then tragedy struck.

The blue light that shone at the top of the Barolo Palace on September 14th, 1923, was destined to announce the victory of a proud son of this southernmost country on Earth in his world championship fight. And it did shine its blue blessings upon the hopeful crowd below as soon as the announcement came all the way from the ringside at the Polo Grounds in New York that the great Jack Dempsey, the fearsome heavyweight champion, had fallen at the hands of Luis Angel Firpo, flying out of the ring in the very first round of the very first title bout by the very first Argentine to fight abroad in front of a hostile crowd.

But then, the light turned red. The confused and befuddled crowd stood in astonishment and silence as the 3000-watt lamp, bright enough to be seen on the other side of the widest river on the planet, changed its color to announce that indeed, once again, the underdog had fallen.

It would take until the next day, in which the newspapers would tell the entire story, for them to realize how close was Luis Angel Firpo, the “Wild Bull of the Pampas,” to achieving the impossible.

For seventeen seconds (give or take, depending on which account is to be believed), the great Jack Dempsey, “The Manassa Mauler” and reigning heavyweight champion of the world, had been out of the ring trying to regain his foothold and climb back into it to continue fighting.

For seventeen full seconds, a nation barely into its first century of life held the bragging rights of having its strongest and most fearsome son standing alone (literally) on a boxing ring, laying claim to the biggest prize in sports. For a fleeting moment, one of the largest gatherings of people in the history of Buenos Aires felt, through the magic of the airwaves conveyed through a series of lights projected from a building, the moment in which the pride of South America sent the mighty Dempsey down and out in demolishing fashion, with their bets and their pride flying out of the ring with Jack as well.

 

 

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For those 17 seconds, they felt capable of anything and everything. And then reality set in.

They came dressed in black suits and ties. They came in rags, in peasant clothes and in greasy overalls, streaming endlessly from the bowels of ships arriving from almost every country in the world. The vast expanse of the South American plains, the ‘pampas’, embraced them with its promise of fertile lands of opportunity.

Most of them were men between the ages of 18 and 30, jobless and unskilled, looking for a place to call home and to form a family, without even imagining that there would be thousands of them in the same situation competing for the very same jobs and the few women that the country had to offer. Soon enough, they would give up their search for true love and become clients of one of the 6000 whorehouses that the city had to offer, in stark contrast with the less than 100 schools that catered to the very few children that were being born there at the time.

But the demographics were about to change even more in the coming years.

In 1890, Buenos Aires had a quarter of a million inhabitants. By 1910, they were two and a half million. And that was before WWI started spewing refugees and escapees to all corners of the planet, most of them traveling in empty cargo ships leaving Europe and the Middle East for the “breadbasket of the world”, as the country was known back then. Some of them, however, arrived in first-class cruise liners, hoping to turn their small savings into larger fortunes in the “land of silver.”

One of them was Luigi Barolo, an already wealthy Italian cotton merchant who was planning to make Argentina the new headquarter for his successful business.

And he did, amassing a significant wealth that allowed him, among other things, to build a grandiose tower bearing his name. But Barolo wouldn’t settle for just any building. He ordered the tallest and most modern building in the city, right across the street from the newly-built Congress, and a mere 20 blocks from the Government House. He ordered it made in reinforced concrete, and to have a 360-degree beacon of light shining from its top.

But the main feature of the building was not its height or its sturdiness. Barolo wanted the building to be an allegory of the greatest book ever written by one of his compatriots and the defining work of literature of his nation: Dante’s Divine Comedy.

He then trusted architect Mario Palanti with the task of creating a building that would enclose every metaphor and every symbolism of Dante’s masterpiece in every one of its aspects. The building needed to be 100 meters in height, no more and no less, to match the 100 ‘cantos’ in which the book is divided, and have the number nine (a recurrent number in Dante’s book, with its nine angelical choruses, nine gates of Hell, nine circles of Purgatory and nine spheres of Heaven) present in the nine gates of the building, as well as the 22 floors representing the number of verses in which each poem of the book is divided. Its basement represents Hell, while the middle floors represent the Purgatory, and the tower represents Heaven.

Barolo even envisioned having Dante’s mortal remains brought from Italy to rest in the building, which would then become his mausoleum.

But after finishing the building on June of 1923 at an exorbitant cost, Barolo needed a way to promote it in order to lease its already overpriced suites and offices, and the Firpo-Dempsey fight provided the right opportunity for a big publicity stunt: those who did not have a radio at home could come to Congress Square and look up towards the Barolo Tower, where a blue light would announce a victory by Firpo and a red one would do it for Dempsey.

The mausoleum had just become a lighthouse, and the old book by Dante was on its way to becoming the first chapter of a book of its own, a landmark in the lifelong search for hope and inspiration for thousands of men in modest black suits and unconquerable hope.

And the book would have many more chapters written under the same underlying subject of the Firpo-Dempsey heartbreak.

For many years to come, the subject of the “moral victor”, the man who could have achieved greatness if only the more powerful evil forces of the universe had not conspired to keep him down, became a recurring theme in Argentine sports – and in life in general.

Firpo’s perceived failure during the country’s rite of passage into the worldwide sports spotlight became the subject of continuous scrutiny and discussion through the years. The exact number of seconds spent by Dempsey trying to recover became a subject of national debate. The lack of a ‘neutral corner rule’ that allowed Dempsey to remain right by Firpo after each one of his trips to the canvas, hovering around like a bird of prey over his imminent victim, provided even more reasons for analysis.

During those seventeen seconds which started with Dempsey being punched and “seeing a million stars” (according to his own account) under the force of Firpo’s blow, Dempsey landed on a typewriter at ringside and was aided by several ringside reporters to get back into the ring. The rules back then allowed for 20 total seconds for a fighter punched out of the ring to get back in and continue fighting, but no one specified which part of those 20 seconds were supposed to count towards a stoppage count.

But the referee only reached a count of nine, and Dempsey was back on his feet unleashing a savage beating on Firpo, who fell nine times before the fight was stopped. The Divine Comedy had just added a couple of more nines to its long list of allegories.

The 17 seconds during which Firpo had a chance to grab the heavyweight title in what was Latin America’s maiden voyage into the stormy seas of pugilism became only the first of a long series of episodes in which an Argentine “almost made it,” only to be denied unfairly by the favorites or the preordained winners from more powerful countries. Or at least that became the perception in a country that seems to find as many reasons to aim for the stars as it does to find excuses in defeat

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In 1968, Argentine golfer and British Open champion Roberto DeVicenzo was the victim of a series of scoring errors that cost him the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, when his partner Tommy Aaron incorrectly marked his card while the eventual winner Bob Goalby was benefited from a similar mistake in his own favor. Unwilling to win the title on an appeal, DeVicenzo allowed the mistake to stand and thus forfeited what could have been his second Major win.

In 1977, tennis legend Guillermo Vilas had a banner year that included a French Open and a US Open title, as well as a second place in the Australian Open, but failing to be ranked No. 1 by the ATP due to an unfairly outdated scoring system. A later investigation concluded that Vilas should have occupied the top of the rankings on several occasions during the ‘70s if the math had been right at the time, but Vilas refused to pursue legal actions to have this injustice corrected.

In 1981, Formula One driver Carlos Reutemann was winning one of the defining races of the season when the Williams racing team posted a sign by the road asking him to allow teammate Alan Jones to surpass him. Rebelling against his employer, Reutemann had his Rubicon moment and barged on to win to pull within one point of winning the title at the end of the season, only to be denied the championship in part by a decision to turn the South African Grand Prix into an unofficial F1 race due to disagreements within the organization. Had that race distributed points for its participants, Reuteman would have won the first F1 title for the country since Juan Manuel Fangio’s legendary five-title run in the fifties.

Nine years later, Argentina was seeking to repeat its Soccer World Cup success of 1986 in a final game at Italy ’90 against West Germany, in a do-over of the ’86 final game. With only five minutes left in a yet-scoreless game, Uruguayan-Mexican referee Edgardo Codesal awarded a penalty to the Germans for a largely non-existent foul. Germany went on to win 1-0 on the strength of the subsequent goal scored by Andreas Brehme, and the image of Argentine icon Diego Maradona crying inconsolably as he received his runner-up medal became a symbol of the country’s frustration of seeing injustice getting in the way of what they perceived as well-deserved achievements.

In spite of the country’s numerous sporting successes, the ghost of that fateful night in which a lone, towering Argentine boxer was denied the heavyweight championship of the world due to a technicality that he failed to dispute properly at the time came back repeatedly to haunt some of the country’s most outstanding athletes. Some of them tried to stand up to the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortunes, but most of them simply surrendered to the more comfortable escape through the high road, preferring the dry confines of the moral high ground to the muddy waters of the legal wrangling in which only the sore losers would rather dwell.

In Argentina, those 17 seconds echoed in eternity.

In 1923, Argentina was the seventh richest nation in the world. That title would prove just as temporary as Firpo’s time under the spotlight, as the country would unravel into a spiral of dictatorships, economic crisis and collective decay that would require Dante’s feverish narrative to describe. .

But for all that, there is no Dempsey or no obscure power behind the throne on whom to blame.

A few years after that fateful September night, the astronomer Edward Hubble finally got his wish and managed to use the largest telescope ever built to gather enough data to confirm his Nobel-prize worthy theory: stars (and the galaxies that hold them) tend to shift their light to blue when they are traveling towards their observers, and they turn to red when they are flying away.

For a fleeting moment, one night in September of 1923, a blue star was on its way to Argentina to announce the birth of a new Messiah that would lead a nation of illegal immigrants, destitute refugees, penniless pariahs and weary travelers to heights only known to greater civilizations.

It didn’t happen. But their eyes, however, remain on the blinking and ever-changing lights of fate shining from the mountaintop, settling for the more modest title of moral victors in a world where reaching the top of the podium, no matter how or with the help of how many ringside writers, is all that counts.

Firpo never won the heavyweight title. Reutemann never became Formula One champ. De Vicenzo never won a major tournament again. Maradona retired without ever playing a championship game again.

Hubble, as it turns out, never won the Nobel Prize for his discovery.

As Dante would have it in the Canto XX of his Inferno, “may God so let you, dear reader, gather fruit from what you read.”

An entire nation is still struggling to do so, even almost a century after its lucky star turned red, veered its course and flew away from them, never to be seen again.

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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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Popo vs. “La Hiena”: Blast From the Past – Episode Two

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Freitas

When WBA/WBO super featherweight champion Acelino “Popo” Freitas met Jorge Rodrigo “Il Hiena” Barrios in Miami on August 8, 2003, there was more on the line than just the titles. This was a roughhousing 39-1-1 Argentinian fighting an equally tough 33-0 Brazilian. The crowd was divided between Brazilian fans and those from Argentina. To them this was a Mega-Fight; this was BIG.

When Acelino Freitas turned professional in 1995, he streaked from the gate with 29 straight KOs, one of the longest knockout win streaks in boxing history. He was fan-friendly and idolized in Brazil. Barrios turned professional in 1996 and went 14-0 before a DQ loss after which he went 25-0-1 with 1 no decision.

The Fight

The wild swinging “Hyena” literally turned into one as he attacked from the beginning and did not let up until the last second of the eleventh round. Barrios wanted to turn the fight into a street fight and was reasonably successful with that strategy. It became a case of brawler vs. boxer/puncher and when the brawler caught the more athletic Popo—who could slip and duck skillfully—and decked him with a straight left in the eighth, the title suddenly was up for grabs.

The Brazilian fans urged their hero on but to no avail as Barrios rendered a pure beat down on Popo during virtually the entirety of the 11th round—one of the most exciting in boxing history. Freitas went down early from a straight right. He was hurt, and at this point it looked like it might be over. Barrios was like a madman pounding Popo with a variety of wild shots, but with exactly one half of one second to go before the bell ending the round, Freitas caught La Hiena with a monster right hand that caused the Hyena to do the South American version of the chicken dance before he went down with his face horribly bloodied. When he got up, he had no idea where he was but his corner worked furiously to get him ready for the final round. All he had to do was hang in there and the title would change hands on points.

The anonymous architect of “In Boxing We Trust,” a web site that went dormant in 2010, wrote this description:

“Near the end of round 11, about a milli-second before the bell rang, Freitas landed a ROCK HARD right hand shot flush on Barrios’ chin. Barrios stood dazed for a moment, frozen in time, and then down he went, WOW WOW WOW!!!! Barrios got up at the count of 4, he didn’t know where he was as he looked around towards the crowd like a kid separated from his family at a theme park, but Barrios turned to the ref at the count of 8 and signaled that he was okay, SAVED BY THE BELL. It was panic time in the Barrios corner, as the blood continued to flow like lava, and he was bleeding from his ear (due to a ruptured ear drum). In the beginning of round 12, Freitas was able to score an early knockdown, and as Barrios stood up on wobbly legs and Freitas went straight at him and with a couple more shots, Barrios was clearly in bad shape and badly discombobulated and the fight was stopped. Freitas had won a TKO victory in round 12, amazing!!!!”

Later, Freitas tarnished his image with a “No Mas” against Diego Corrales, but he had gone down three times and knew there was no way out. He went on to claim the WBO world lightweight title with a split decision over Zahir Raheem, but that fight was a snoozefest and he lost the title in his first defense against Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz.

Freitas looked out of shape coming in to the Diaz fight and that proved to be the case as he was so gassed at the end of the eighth round that he quit on his stool. This was yet another shocker, but others (including Kostya Tszyu, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya and even Ali) had done so and the criticism this time seemed disproportionate.

Popo had grown old. It happens. Yet, against Barrios, he had proven without a doubt that he possessed the heart of a warrior.

The Brazilian boxing hero retired in 2007, but came back in 2012 and schooled and KOd the cocky Michael “The Brazilian Rocky” Oliveira. He won another fight in 2015 and though by now he was visibly paunchy, he still managed to go 10 rounds to beat Gabriel Martinez in 2017 with occasional flashes of his old explosive volleys. These later wins, though against lower level opposition, somewhat softened the memories of the Corrales and Diaz fights, both of which this writer attended at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut. They would be his only defeats in 43 pro bouts.

Like Manny Pacquiao, Freitas had a difficult childhood but was determined to make a better life for himself and his family. And, like Manny, he did and he also pursued a career in politics. Whether he makes it into the Hall will depend on how much a ‘No Mas’ can count against one, but he warrants serious consideration when he becomes eligible.

As for the Hyena, on April 8, 2005, he won the WBO junior lightweight title with a fourth round stoppage of undefeated but overweight Mike Anchondo. In January 2010 he was involved in a hit and run accident in which a 20-year-old pregnant woman was killed. On April 4, 2012 Barrios was declared guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to four years in prison. He served 27 months and never fought again, retiring with a record of 50-4-1.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest active full power lifters in the world. A member of Ring 10, and Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he was recently cited by Hannibal Boxing as one of three “Must-Read” boxing writers.

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The Avila Perspective Chapter 6: Munguia, Cruiserweights and Pacman

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Adjoining states

Adjoining states in the west host a number of boxing cards including a world title contest that features a newcomer who, before knocking out a world champion, was erroneously categorized by a Nevada official as unworthy of a title challenge.

Welcome to the world of Mexico’s Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) the WBO super welterweight world titlist who meets England’s Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 21. HBO will televise

Back in April when middleweight titan Gennady “GGG” Golovkin was seeking an opponent to replace Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who was facing suspension for performance enhancement drug use, it was the 21-year-old from Tijuana who volunteered his services for a May 5th date in Las Vegas.

Bob Bennett, the Executive Director for Nevada State Athletic Commission, denied allowing Munguia an opportunity to fight Golovkin for the middleweight titles. Bennett claimed that the slender Mexican fighter had not proven worthy of contesting for the championship though the tall Mexican wielded an undefeated record of 28 wins with 24 coming by knockout.

To be fair, Bennett has seen many fighters in the past with undefeated records who were not up to challenges, especially against the likes of Golovkin. But on the other hand, how can an official involved in prizefighting deny any fighter the right to make a million dollar payday if both parties are willing?

That is the bigger question.

Munguia stopped by Los Angeles to meet with the media last week and spoke about Bennett and his upcoming first world title defense. He admitted to being in the middle of a whirlwind that is spinning beyond his expectations. But he likes it.

“I’ve never won any kind of award before in my life,” said Munguia at the Westside Boxing Club in the western portion of Los Angeles. “I’ve always wanted to be a world champion since I was old enough to fight.”

When asked how he felt about Nevada’s denying him an attempt to fight Golovkin, a wide grin appeared on the Mexican youngster.

“I would like to thank him,” said Munguia about Bennett’s refusal to allow him to fight Golovkin. “Everything happens for a reason.”

That reason is clear now.

Two months ago Munguia put on a frightening display of raw power in knocking down then WBO super welterweight titlist Sadam Ali numerous times in front of New York fans. It reminded me of George Foreman’s obliteration of Joe Frazier back in the 1970s. World champions are not supposed get battered like that but when someone packs that kind of power those can be the terrifying results.

Still beaming over his newfound recognition, Munguia has grand plans for his future including challenging all of the other champions in his weight category and the next weight division.

“I want to be a great champion,” said Munguia. “I want to make history.”

The first step toward history begins on Saturday when he faces former world champion Smith who was dethroned by another Mexican named Canelo.

Cruiserweight championship

It’s not getting a large amount of attention in my neighborhood but this unification clash between WBA and IBF cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) and WBC and WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) has historic ramifications tagged all over it.

The first time I ever saw Russia’s 24-year-old Gassiev was three years ago when he made his American debut at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello. It’s a small venue near East L.A. and the fight was attended by numerous boxing celebrities such as James “Lights Out” Toney, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. One entire section was filled by Russian supporters and Gassiev did not disappoint in winning by stoppage that night. His opponent hung on for dear life.

Ukraine’s Usyk, 31, made his American debut in late 2016 on a Golden Boy Promotions card that staged boxing great Bernard Hopkins’ final prizefight. That night the cruiserweight southpaw Usyk bored audiences with his slap happy style until lowering the boom on South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu in round nine at the Inglewood Forum. The sudden result stunned the audience.

Now it’s Gassiev versus Usyk and four world titles are at stake. The unification fight takes place in Moscow, Russia and will be streamed via Klowd TV at 12 p.m. PT/ 3 p.m. ET.

Seldom are cruiserweight matchups as enticing to watch as this one.

Another Look

A couple of significant fights took place last weekend, but Manny Pacquiao’s knockout win over Lucas Matthysse for the WBO welterweight world title heads the list.

Neither fighter looked good in their fight in Malaysia but when Pacquiao floored Matthysse several times during the fight, it raised some red flags.

The last time Pacquiao knocked out a welterweight was in 2009 against Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas. Since then he had not stopped an opponent. What changed?

In this age of PEDs there was no mention of testing for the Pacquiao/Matthysse fight. For the curiosity of the media and the fans, someone should come forward with proof of testing. Otherwise any future fights for the Philippine great will not be forthcoming.

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