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B-Hop’s Temporary Tattoo Temporarily Revolutionized Boxing Advertising

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TEMPORARY TATTOO

B-HOP’S TEMPORARY TATTOO — When former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins finally lowers the curtain on his incredible 28-year professional boxing career with a farewell fight against Joe Smith Jr. on Saturday night in Inglewood, Calif., much will be said, and rightly so, by the HBO announcing team about his incredible longevity (he turns 52 on Jan. 15), his division-record 20 middleweight title defenses and his signature victories against Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik.

Likely to go unmentioned is the mini-revolution he and associate Joe Lear helped spark on Sept. 29, 2001, when B-Hop took off his robe moments before the opening bell of his HBO Pay Per View middleweight unification showdown against Puerto Rican knockout artist Felix Trinidad in Madison Square  Garden. The temporary tattoo on Hopkins’ back, pitching GoldenPalace.com, an online casino operating out of Costa Rica, instantly became a flashpoint of controversy that, at least for a few minutes, became nearly as much of a story as the masterful performance he would craft en route to stopping the favored Trinidad in the 12th round.

Perhaps surprisingly to Hopkins but maybe not, at least a smidgeon of the post-fight discussion involved that tattoo, which was sweated off by the third round. It might well have been that Hopkins, who has never been shy when it comes to self-promotion, knew exactly how much furor his unprecedented back adornment would cause within the boxing establishment. Then again, he might have agreed to wear it for a reason as simple as the $100,000 he was being paid over and above his purse of $2.7 million. The money was no small consideration to a fighter who, earlier in his middleweight title reign, had grudgingly accepted a couple of paydays for that relatively skimpy amount.

Asked about what his primary motivation was for accepting the deal offered by GoldenPalace.com, which was negotiated by Lear, Hopkins now says that cash and notoriety are commodities that always have gone hand-in-hand in professional sports. If some fighter was going to push the envelope, the brash and irrepressible B-Hop was just the guy to see how much he could get away with.

“It did get a rise out of people, didn’t it?” said Hopkins in recalling the incident that has become something of a footnote to his thick cache of career accomplishments. “I guess (criticism) from some of the higher-ups in boxing was because they couldn’t get any money out of it. So they took steps to stop it, but a lot of people thought it was a pretty smart move on my part.”

How smart was it? Hopkins, who has never been anything but supremely confident in his abilities, bet that $100,000 on himself at 2½-1 odds and walked away with $350,000.

“I feel like the guy who invented the lightbulb,” Hopkins said in May of 2002, three months after he did the temporary tat thing again in a 10th-round TKO of challenger Carl Daniels at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa., his first bout after the reputation-boosting conquest of Trinidad. “It was a big night, a big fight, but some people always are going to remember Bernard Hopkins wearing that tattoo on his back. “I’m probably going to be the answer to a trivia question 10 or 15 years from now.

“It was a gamble on my part. If I had lost badly to Trinidad, I probably would have been the biggest (idiot) in boxing. But I was betting on myself, and I’m not afraid to put my money where my mouth is.”

Boxing’s major advertisers, of course, saw GoldenPalace.com as a threat and they hinted at legal action to prohibit other fighters from following Hopkins’ lead. But they didn’t have a leg to stand on, the matter falling under the province of First Amendment protection. That enabled the temporary tattoo era to continue on for another couple of years, until promoters – at the urging of casino-hotels involved in big-time boxing, which understandably didn’t want some online operation siphoning any of their business – began including restrictions in contracts that fighters either had to sign or else. They invariably elected to sign because it was in their best financial interests to do so.

“We went to court about it,” said Marc Ratner, then the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic commission and now the vice president of regulatory affairs for mixed martial arts’ leading brand, Ultimate Fighting Championship.  “It was a First Amendment right for boxers to wear those temporary tattoos if they wanted to, but it was a relatively short-lived thing. The money they were getting from the tattoos was kind of an add-on to their purses, but they wouldn’t be getting fights (at casino venues) in any case if they did not agree to those specific clauses in their contracts.”

Although Hopkins invariably is given the credit, or blame as the case might be, for launching the temporary tat era, it might not have happened without the involvement of  Lear, whose job at the time was lining up endorsement deals for the not-yet-fully-celebrated middleweight champ. Lear had arranged for four such income-raising tie-ins, all of which involved Hopkins wearing advertisers’ logo patches on his trunks for his epochal clash with Trinidad.

But in the lead-up to that showdown, Hopkins twice threw down the Puerto Rican flag at press conferences meant to hype the event. The companies with which Lear had made verbal arrangements suddenly decided they didn’t need or want Hopkins as their commercial representative.

“I’d been working with Bernard since his first fight with Antwun Echols (in 1999),” Lear said after the temporary tat spit hit the fan. “I got him his first (endorsement) deal before he fought Syd Vanderpool (on May 13, 2000). Later on, I’d get him something for $10,000 here, $20,000 there. Nothing really big, but it all added up.

“Before he fought Trinidad, I had deals with four companies to wear patches on his trunks. Those deals cumulatively came out to a nice number. But when Bernard threw the flag down, those companies withdrew. They thought he was a crazy man, and it’s tough to sell crazy.”

Not that Hopkins was trying to lose money; his plan for success was predicated on rattling Trinidad well before the fight. But while Hopkins succeeded in gaining a mental edge before he stepped into the ring, Lear needed something to compensate for the sponsorships that had dried up outside it. And, well, you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention.

“My job is to get endorsement deals for Bernard, and I was desperate,” Lear continued. “Anyway, I was in Los Angeles for the Roy Jones fight (vs. Julio Gonzalez) and I saw a college football game on television. All the cheerleaders had, you know, those little temporary tattoos on their cheeks.

“I remember thinking, `What if we get one of those tattoos, a bigger one, and put it on Bernard’s back?’ I recall someone having done something like that before, in England or Germany, so I can’t take credit for the concept. But I figured if people would pay to advertise on ring posts, which nobody really cares about seeing, they’d pay for an ad on the back of a fighter in the largest pay-per-view boxing event of the year.”

Hopkins’ tattoo proved more temporary than the GoldenPalace.com folks might have preferred. Beads of sweat carried away the vegetable-dye lettering by the third round, but the impact the tattoo created in the advertising world was no less significant than the boxing implications of Hopkins’ dramatic stoppage of the undefeated Trinidad.

In short order, temporary tats with more staying power, made with henna – a concoction that includes a henna plant and a dye known as p-phenylenediamine, or PPD – came into vogue, but not without additional controversy. The new and improved temporary tats were banned in the New Jersey communities of Wildwood and North Wildwood because people said the mixture left them with rashes and chemical burns on their skin. But its durability had the tattoos popping up on the backs and shoulder blades of fighters on nearly every television card, creating revenue streams for the athletes that even Lear found astounding.

“I didn’t expect it to last longer than that week,” Lear of his brainstorm, which spread like wildfire after Hopkins had schooled Trinidad . “I feel like the silent prince of boxing. Now, promoters give me the evil eye, but the fighters call me all throughout the day and night, trying to get deals. I’m a friendly guy, but I’ve never been this popular. These fighters all want the extra money.”

But the calls stopped when revised contracts, expressly forbidding temporary tats, became standard.

And now?

There is more money than ever pouring into sports, the revenue streams of just a decade or so ago having swollen to raging floods. The NBA, which banned the appearance of “corporate insignia” on players’ uniforms and bodies in 2002, except on shoes and league-supplied gear, became the first of the United States’ four major professional sports leagues to allow ads on jerseys, beginning in the 2017-18 season. The ad space will be sold as part of a three-year pilot program and will take the form of a 2.5-inch square patch that is tailored to a sponsor’s logo and will appear on the left shoulder of players’ uniforms.

“Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in announcing an “experiment” that is sure to become permanent if the projected goal of an additional $100 million in revenue to the league is reached, which seems a sure thing. “We’re always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace.”

The NBA pilot program could well signal a stampede by other U.S. sports leagues to further add to their bottom lines. In 2010, Sports Illustrated reported that 20 English Premier League soccer teams earned $155 million by selling ad space on their jerseys for a single season. A year later, New York-based Horizon Media estimated that America’s big four sports leagues were missing out on $370 million a year by not following suit.

Major League Soccer predated the NBA by selling ads – really large ones – on the front of teams’ jerseys in the spring of 2007, a practice that has continued. Similarly prominent ads have been standard issue on WNBA jerseys since 2011, and NASCAR is awash in ads, covering virtually every inch of the cars and drivers’ helmets and fire-retardant outfits. Stadium naming rights don’t come cheap (AT&T pays $19 million to have its name attached to the Dallas Cowboys’ home field) and identifying marks of sports-apparel companies (Nike, adidas, Reebok, Under Armour) appear on so many uniforms, from kiddie leagues to the big time,  that they have become ubiquitous.

Boxing also is finding a way to turn a profit from ad placements, if not to the same extent of the major team sports. For the highest-grossing prizefight of all time, the May 2, 2015, pairing of welterweight superstars Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, there was a pitched battle between Tecate and Corona to become the “official” beer of the event. Tecate, which has long been associated with Pacquiao, won out with a winning bid of $5.6 million to $5.2 million for Corona. The fight was contested with a large Tecate logo painted on the ring, and signage for the company was everywhere throughout the MGM Grand.

“It was a big auction,” Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  “We had to see who would come through with the biggest deal, and Tecate had Corona throw in the towel.” Added Scott Becher, chief integration officer at Zimmerman Advertisers: “Tecate vs. Corona was the greatest boxing undercard of all time, and Tecate scored a knockout.”

But hefty endorsement opportunities for fighters, even elite ones, remain relatively few and far between. Although ads can and do appear on trunks – one of the longer-lasting and more lucrative such partnerships involved Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez and Maseca, a Mexican flour manufacturing company that targeted Hispanic supermarkets in the U.S. as well as Central and South America – it is not the same as a LeBron James or Peyton Manning selling their images to the highest bidders. Besides, boxers don’t wear jerseys that can be affixed with paid-for logos.

Lear noted that no-chance British heavyweight Julius Francis accepted an offer of $50,000 from a London newspaper (The Mirror) to sell advertising space on the soles of his shoes when he fought Mike Tyson in Manchester, England, on Jan. 29, 2000. Francis got knocked down six times before being stopped in two rounds, his feet flopping wildly in the air whenever he crashed to the canvas, so you can say the paper got its money’s worth.

“But Bernard was not some old guy trying to get retirement money at the 11th hour, even though I’m sure some people thought that when he took off his robe,” Lear said. “Yeah, he wore the tattoo, but he did it with pride, dignity and respect. He made it OK to do it. I’m not sure that would have been the case if he had gotten knocked out.”

Be it against Trinidad or Daniels, his second and final time to do the temporary tat thing, the notion of his being embarrassed inside the ropes never crossed Hopkins’ mind. He always expects to win, and if there’s a bit more cash that can picked up along the way for doing something that had little or no influence on the outcome, so much the better.

“You hear the word `tattoo,’ you think permanent,” Hopkins said three months after he had disposed of Daniels. “Joe told me it was temporary, and it was. By the third round of the Trinidad fight it was completely sweated off.

“Bu for my fight with Carl Daniels, they’d improved things with that henna stuff. (The tattoo) stayed on my back for 2½ months. I’m not sure if Nettie (Hopkins’ wife Jeannette) liked it when I got out of bed, but it stayed on. You have to take a lot of showers before it wears off.”

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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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).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 

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

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

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

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

Take your pick.

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

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DiBella

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

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

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

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

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

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

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

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

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

One world title fight does take place on the card.

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

L.A. Congestion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Title Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

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retire

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

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

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

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

Cream of the Crop

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

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

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

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

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

Other Notable Possibilities

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

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

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

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

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

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

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

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

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

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

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

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

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