Connect with us

Canada & Usa

R.I.P., Alex Stewart: 1964-2016



Alex Stewart

RIP Alex Stewart 1964 2016 –  It is a small nation, relatively speaking, better known for its gold-medal-winning Olympic sprinters than its boxers. But the Caribbean island of Jamaica, with a population of 2.8 million, more or less the same number of residents as the city of Chicago, has produced a wealth of notable heavyweights, either native-born or the sons of Jamaican immigrants who relocated to other countries in search of a better life.

First and foremost of the boxing big men with Jamaican bloodlines is three-time former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, but others whose rise to ring prominence was accompanied by a reggae beat include former champs Frank Bruno, David Haye and Michael Bentt, as well as highly rated contender Donovan “Razor” Ruddock. Standouts in lower weight classes include such former titlists as Mike McCallum, Chris Eubank and Nicholas Walters.

Just where Alex “The Destroyer” Stewart, who was just 52 when he died Tuesday (details of his passing are still sketchy) ranks in the pantheon of Jamaican standouts is less certain. There are those who maintain that his main claim to fame remains his first-round blowout loss to Mike Tyson on Dec. 8, 1990, which by any measure is more a lowlight than a highlight. In a scheduled 10-rounder in Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall with no title on the line (Tyson had been dethroned by Buster Douglas in Tokyo 10 months earlier), Stewart was floored by a crushing overhand right only eight seconds after the opening bell, and he went down twice more before referee Frank Cappuccino stepped in and stopped the massacre after an elapsed time of 2 minutes, 27 seconds.

Just like that, Stewart’s reputation as a tough customer and imposing hurdle for any top heavyweight to clear was unfairly tarnished. Mike Downey, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that “when (Tyson) punched Alex Stewart in the stomach Saturday night, it was like squeezing a Hostess Twinkie and then watching the filling squirt out.”

Those also verbally assaulting Stewart as savagely as Tyson had done inside the ropes included CBS boxing analyst Gil Clancy, who noted that “he was like the deer that runs across the road and is frozen by the headlights of an onrushing car,” and Art Miles, trainer of Razor Ruddock (who knocked out Mike Rouse in one round on the same card), who said that “he looked scared, and Tyson can smell fear like nobody else.”

For his part, Tyson, hardly the conciliatory type, went out of his way to compliment the always-gentlemanly Stewart, who never engaged in the type of trash-talk that so many elite athletes spout as a means of building themselves up.

“Alex Stewart is a good fighter and a class act,” Tyson said, almost as if he were embarrassed to win the way that he had. “It’s too bad it had to end like that. I like him very much as a person.”

But one very bad day at the office should not define who and what Alex Stewart was as a fighter, or a man. Subtract Mike Tyson from the equation – and really, how many other good fighters and class acts did a prime Tyson reduce to rubble? – and his body of work reflects just how capable he was in an loaded era for heavyweights that was almost as stacked as the 1960s and ’70s golden age when such all-time greats as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sonny Liston and Larry Holmes towered above the competition. It can be argued that it was simply Stewart’s misfortune to come along at a time when the Ali/Frazier/Liston/Holmes/Foreman equivalents were Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe and an older, wiser and just-as-hard-hitting Foreman. Viewed in that context, Stewart perhaps can be likened to such predecessors as Earnie Shavers and Ron Lyle, who might have been champions today but never could quite break through the bolted gate to the inner sanctum of the palace where Ali, Frazier, Foreman and Holmes took regal turns upon the throne.

It should be noted, however, that Stewart – born in London to Jamaican immigrants, and who had represented his parents’ homeland at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics – began his professional career with 24 consecutive knockout victories, matching the blazing start matched in an earlier era by Mac Foster, another good fighter who never quite made it all the way to the heavyweight summit. In the most important bout of his career to that point, Stewart was paired against another undefeated alumnus of those ’84 Olympics, Evander Holyfield, on Nov. 4, 1989, at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Although Holyfield’s WBC Continental Americas heavyweight title was on the line, that trinket was of scant significance; the consensus going in was that the winner would be fast-tracked to legitimate stardom and anointment as a future world champion.

Stewart gave a good account of himself, but he was hindered by two torn tendons in his left hand incurred early in the fight, and eventually done in by a worsening cut above his right eye that led to his being stopped in the eighth round.

He could not have known it then, but the first of his two matchups with Holyfield – he also dropped a 12-round unanimous decision on June 26, 1993, during one of the periods when “The Real Deal” was bereft of a championship belt – was as close as Stewart would ever come to the biggest prize his sport had to offer. He never fought for a world title, although he remained at least on the fringes of contention virtually until he retired, following a second-round TKO loss to Jorge Luis Gonzalez on June 6, 1999. It was Stewart’s fourth loss in his final six bouts, three of the defeats coming inside the distance. His final record shall forever be frozen at 43-10, with 40 wins by knockout, but, beginning with the first setback to Holyfield, he was 18-7 the rest of the way, with 16 KO triumphs and six defeats ending in similarly abbreviated fashion.

One has to wonder if anything might have been different for Stewart had he won that crossroads first meeting with Holyfield, or in subsequent make-or-break confrontations with Michael Moorer and George Foreman. Moorer stopped Stewart in four rounds on July 27, 1991, in Norfolk, Va., further legitimizing the bulked-up former light heavyweight champ’s status as a force to be reckoned with the heavyweight division, and he eventually won the championship when he outpointed Holyfield on April 22, 1994.

So discouraged was Stewart by his loss to Moorer that for a time he took a job as a minimum-wage security guard at a Clearwater, Fla., sporting goods store, not so much because he was in financial straits as because “I got tired of sitting around with nothing to do. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stick with boxing.”

Stewart, of course, did return to the gym, setting the stage for his most heartbreaking outcome against the then-43-year-old Foreman on April 11, 1992, at Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center. If Stewart had only won that 10-round wild ride at the last chance corral, maybe every misstep he had taken along the way would be overlooked and forgiven. Stewart and his manager, Jim Fennell, certainly thought that would be the case.

“It’s an even split — $5 million to George, $250,000 to Alex,” Fennell joked about the disparity in purses. “But that’s OK. This is the fight we need to move back into contention. A win over Foreman and Alex is right there with the top guys again.”

Said a hopeful Stewart: “I think George is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. But let’s be realistic. Fighting and eating hamburgers are two different things. He’s strong and he has experience, but can he stand up against a young (Stewart was then 27), well-conditioned athlete like me? I don’t think so. George is made to order for me. I have everything it takes to beat George Foreman.”

For much of the way, Stewart provided ample evidence that his confidence was well-founded. Although Big George dropped Stewart twice in the second round, and had him in trouble again in the third and eighth rounds, Stewart otherwise had his way with the aging big bopper. When the final bell sounded, both of Foreman’s eyes were nearly swollen shut, his jaw was a grotesque mask of misshapen flesh and blood was flowing from his nose and mouth. Still, when the decision was announced, Foreman, despite being docked a penalty point in the 10th round for a low blow, was awarded a slender majority decision by scores of 94-93 (twice) and 94-94.

So beaten up was Foreman that, at the postfight press conference, several members of his entourage were observed with tears in their eyes. A couple of reporters even deigned to ask him if he would now consider retirement and leave the business of boxing to younger folks.

“No more Alex Stewarts,” a gracious Foreman said. “It felt like his knuckles had rocks in them. Ron Lyle (who Foreman stopped in five rounds on Jan. 24, 1976) hit me so hard I didn’t feel it. He just knocked me down. But this guy hurt me. When he hit me, it was like a brick going up against my bones. Such pain. I never want to go through that again as long as I live.”

Foreman, like Moorer, would go on to bigger and better things. At the improbable age of 45, he would win the heavyweight title a second time, coming from far behind on the scorecards to knock out Moorer in 10 rounds. Big George’s late-in-life ascension to the championship came nearly 22 years after he had won it the first time, on Jan. 22, 1973, with a second-round TKO of Joe Frazier in, ironically, Stewart’s ancestral home of Kingston, Jamaica.

The near-miss against Foreman proved to be the last real grab at the brass ring for Stewart. Maybe that was because his heart had gone out of his Quixotian quest for glory, and maybe it was because he had paid a steep price for even having undertaken the journey. At that postfight press conference when media members were pressing the battered Foreman to step aside, Big George’s younger brother, Roy, turned the question around. He said the more physically damaged party might well have been Stewart, who connected with 281 of 510 punches, according to CompuBox, an astonishing 55.1 percent accuracy rate.

“Stewart got sick,” Roy Foreman said. “He’s all broken up in the body. I bet he’ll be hurting for weeks. Any man George has fought has never been the same. Maybe you guys should be telling Stewart that he should retire.”

It’s funny, the little things you remember about fights and fighters. For me, my definitive memory of Alex Stewart was provided by his then-5-year-old daughter, Tenille, a couple of days before his ill-fated clash with Tyson.

Evander Holyfield, there to scout Tyson as a possible future opponent, was checking into Trump Plaza when he bumped into Madison Square Garden Boxing publicist Patti Dreifuss and Tenille. Alex Stewart was then under contract to MSG Boxing. Holyfield, who had registered that eight-round TKO over Stewart 13 months earlier, attempted to shake hands with the child, but she would have none of it.

“I’m mad at him,” Tenille explained to Dreifuss. “He beat up my daddy.”

After Tyson blew away Stewart as if he were a flimsy shack in a Category 5 hurricane, Tenille had a new grudge to hold.

“I don’t like Tyson anymore,” Tenille told Dreifuss. Replied her chaperone, “Honey, you didn’t like him before the fight.”

Her lower lip trembling, Tenille said, “Well, I don’t like him harder now.”

Tenille is 31 now, mature enough to know that everything didn’t go as favorably as it might have for her father, but lots of positive stuff happened along the way. And that’s more than most who take up the cruelest sport can ever expect.

RIP Alex Stewart 1964 2016 / Check out The Boxcing Channel’s video tribute to Alex Stewart.

Check out this brief video montage remembering some of Stewart’s best in-ring moments at The Boxing Channel.


The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges



In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel


Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

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



Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”


Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?




Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Continue Reading