Connect with us

Canada & Usa

W.C. Heinz: When The Subject Was Boxing, Perhaps No Writer Was Better

During the mid-20th century when there were about a dozen daily newspapers in New York City, three sportswriting giants loomed large.

Published

on

Heinz

During the mid-20th century when there were about a dozen daily newspapers in New York City, three sportswriting giants loomed large.

They were Walter “Red” Smith of the Herald Tribune, Jimmy Cannon at the Daily News, Post and Journal-American, and W.C. Heinz at the Sun.

Of the trio, Heinz, who passed away 10 years ago this past February at age 93 in Vermont, is probably the least known, but in many people’s estimation, the best and especially when it came to writing about boxing. Many consider him the father of the “New Journalism” made wildly popular by writers such as Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe in the 1960s.

Heinz was born in Mount Vernon, New York, on January 11, 1915. After graduating from Middlebury College with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1937, he took a job with the Sun as a messenger.

Heinz swiftly moved up the ranks and worked as a copy boy, city-side reporter and rewrite man.

In the fall of 1943, at 28, Heinz received his big break after being shipped off to Europe as a junior war correspondent where he followed the Allied Forces from Normandy to Berlin.

It was there Heinz, whose first and middle names were Wilfred Charles, said he learned how to write.

“The material was so rich you had great opportunity,” he noted. “The trick was to under-write.”

Ernest Hemingway, the penultimate word-master who liked to fight bulls and spend a round or two in a boxing ring, was also there and the two became friends.

In 1958, when Heinz had his first novel, “The Professional” published about a young middleweight title contender, “Papa,” had high praise for the work, calling it “the only good novel I’ve ever read about a fighter and an excellent first novel in its own right.”

Upon Heinz’s return to the United States in 1945, he hoped to find employment in the Sun’s sports department.

Executive editor Keats Speed told Heinz there were no openings, but said that the job as second man in the Washington, D.C. office was available. Heinz was grateful, but crest-fallen.

“I want to continue to learn, and writing sports, where men are in contest, if not in conflict, and where you can come to know them, one can grow as a writer better than anywhere else on the paper,” Heinz said.

Heinz, who wrote four novels including co-writing “M*A*S*H” in 1968, the anti-war classic that became a hit movie and the basis for the long-running television show, took time off for summer vacation.

When Heinz came back to the Sun’s offices, Wilbur Wood, the sports editor, told him a spot on the sports staff was available.

And so Heinz had his dream job and would over time write a five-day a week column, “The Sports Scene,” from 1947 until the Sun folded in January 1950.

Despite numerous job offers from other newspapers, Heinz took a chance and opted to write long-form features on a freelance basis for magazines like True, Argosy, Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Esquire and Sport.

It was in this form that Heinz, who actually wrote for magazines while still at the Sun, set himself apart.

Sure Heinz was interested in who won and who lost, but it was the person that he wanted to draw out and make human.

Heinz’s unique gift was his keen ear for speech and crystalline sentences. For it seemed that even though you weren’t there in the clubhouse or dressing room, you felt like you were.

There was a trick to it. “The writer should be invisible,” Heinz said. “Listen for the way each person speaks and get that down on paper.”

Heinz enjoyed being around boxers, cut-men, trainers and managers, and was especially fond of Jack Hurley, whom he said was one of only two honest managers in the fight game.

At a time when the pugilistic art truly mattered and everyone knew who the eight weight division champions were, readers of the Sun and in magazine pieces, saw such ring titans as Rocky Graziano, Willie Pep, Carmen Basilio, Floyd Patterson, Lew Jenkins, Billy Graham and Sugar Ray Robinson come to life.

Heinz was given a portable black Remington typewriter in 1932, and used it during the entirety of his legendary career, penning memorable features, or more precisely, beautifully written short stories.

Maybe his best and most famous effort is “Brownsville Bum,” which ran in the June 1951 issue of True and has been anthologized many times.

Here is Heinz’s well-known lead: “It’s a funny thing about people. People will hate a guy all his life for what he is, but the minute he dies for it they make him out a hero and they go around saying that maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy after all because he sure was willing to go the distance for whatever he believed or whatever he was.

“That’s the way it was with Bummy Davis. The night Bummy fought Fritzie Zivic in the Garden and Zivic started giving him the business and Bummy hit Zivic low maybe thirty times and kicked the referee, they wanted to hang him for it. The night those four guys came into Dudy’s bar and tried the same thing, only with rods, Bummy went nuts again. He flattened the first one and then they shot him, and when everybody read about it, and how Bummy fought guns with only his left hook and died lying in the rain in front of the place, they all said that was really something and you sure had to give him credit at that.”

In your mind’s eye you can see the action unfold. For Al “Bummy” Davis, it didn’t matter whether he was in the ring or at a neighborhood bar. He was the same person.

Heinz, a five-time winner of the E.P. Dutton Award for best magazine story of the year, never met Davis.

Heinz saw him fight once in person and once when Davis was leaving the New York Athletic Commission in a failed attempt to restore his boxing license.

Still Heinz captured the essence of the man after speaking with those who knew him best.

The end for Davis came on November 21, 1945 when the former welterweight contender was having a good time, drinking beer with friends at Dudy’s Bar, an establishment he once owned in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

That night four armed men walked in and attempted to rob the place. Davis, who would pronounce himself “one tough Jew,” would have nothing of it as he decided to fight off the robbers as best he could. But fists, no matter how swift and sure, are no match for guns.

Another Heinz classic is titled “The Day of the Fight,” which appeared in the February 1947 issue of Cosmopolitan.

In the piece, Heinz, who edited two boxing anthologies, “The Fireside Book of Boxing” and “The Book of Boxing” with Nathan Ward, laid bare what took place leading up to fight night, even if much of it is mundane.

Here are Heinz’s first two graphs: “The window was open from the bottom and in the bed by the window the prizefighter lay under a sheet and a candlewick spread. In the other bed another prizefighter slept, but the first one lay there looking at the ceiling. It was 9:30 in the morning and he would fight that night.

“The name of the first prizefighter is Rocky Graziano, but you don’t have to remember that. The thing to remember is that he is a prizefighter, because they said this was to be a piece telling what a fighter does, from the moment he gets up in the morning until the moment he climbs into the ring, on the day when he must fight.”

The seed for the feature was Heinz’s 750-word column ahead of Graziano’s September 27, 1946 middleweight title fight with Tony Zale at Yankee Stadium.

Graziano came up short that evening, getting knocked out in the sixth round of their scheduled 15-round tussle.

One who was smitten with Heinz’s writing style was David Halberstam, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent, who himself wrote seven books on sports.

In the forward to “What A Time It Was,” which was published in 2001 and is a collection of some of Heinz’s best work, Halberstam wrote: “Bill Heinz helped lead two generations of reporters in breaking out of the existing and very rigid codes of journalism, changing the form itself, and making it more natural, at the same time constantly expanding the possibilities of what a reporter could do.”

Halberstam then added: “He was a leader in what was about to become a revolution. He wrote simply and well – if anything, he underwrote – but he gave his readers a feel and a sense of what was happening at a game or at the fights, and a rare glimpse into the personalities of the signature athletes of the age.”

Another admirer was Jimmy Breslin, a longtime New York columnist, who also dabbled in sports. “Heinz was the best,” he said after his passing. “His sports writing was supreme, untouchable.”

Roger Kahn felt that way too. Kahn covered the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952 and 1953 for the Herald Tribune and later wrote “The Boys of Summer,” published in 1972, which stands as his magnum opus and is simply the finest baseball book ever penned.

“Heinz could make sentences sing, but his special gift was somehow to sound the chord of music that was the man,” Kahn explained. “The subject of his profiles lived and breathed and laughed and wept with unforgettable vitality.”

At the end of 1999, Halberstam was asked to be a guest editor along with Glenn Stout for the very-thick and important book, “The Best American Sports Writing of the Century.”

It was a collection of the best sports stories by writers such as Smith, a close friend of Heinz’s, Cannon, Frank Deford, A.J. Liebling, Grantland Rice, Jim Murray, John Lardner, Gary Smith, William Nack, Norman Mailer, John Updike, George Plimpton, Roger Angell, David Remnick and many others.

A few writers had two selections included. Heinz, who co-wrote the bestselling “Run To Daylight” with Vince Lombardi, the coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1963, contributed three stories.

They were “Brownsville Bum,” “The Ghost of the Gridiron” about football star Harold “Red” Grange and “The Rocky Road of Pistol Pete,” about one-time Dodgers sensation Pete Reiser, which appeared in True in March 1958.

Former sportswriter John Schulian read the latter when it appeared and later wrote on Heinz’s passing that the piece had a profound impact and could very well have set in motion Schulian’s eventual career choice.

Jeff MacGregor’s well-crafted feature in Sports Illustrated on September 25, 2000 was published after he spent time with Heinz in Vermont.

“He learned to strip the artifice from his work,” MacGregor wrote. “His style emerged, a refined transparence in which the ‘I’ largely disappeared and what the reader got was pure story.”

In MacGregor’s story, Heinz, who was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004, explained his writing process.

“It’s like building a stone wall without mortar,” he said. “You place the words one at a time, fit them, take them apart and refit them until they’re balanced and solid.”

In 1979, “Once They Heard The Cheers,” a book in which Heinz revisited some of his favorite subjects over the course of several years, came out.

That same year I was a senior at UCLA and happened to walk into a nearby bookstore in Westwood Village, where I saw the book and picked up a copy.

All the pieces are well-done and memorable, but my favorite is “The Greatest, Pound-For-Pound.”

Heinz’s initial paragraph was straightforward and maybe a little bit sentimental. “When I am old, I wrote more than twenty years ago, I shall tell them about Ray Robinson. When I was young, I used to hear the old men talk of Joe Gans and Terry McGovern and Kid McCoy. They told of the original Joe Walcott and Sam Langford, of Stanley Ketchel and Mickey Walker and Benny Leonard. How well any of them really knew those men, I’m not sure, but it seemed to me that some of the greatness of those fighters rubbed off on these others just because they lived at the same time.”

Heinz felt Robinson, who is almost universally agreed upon as the finest boxing practitioner ever, was a tough nut to crack.

This was Heinz’s somewhat sad final sentence. “When we got back to the office I called for a cab. While I was waiting for it, he said he thought he would take his five-mile walk, and we shook hands and wished each other well. He went out the door and, through the wide front window, I saw him start up the sidewalk, the greatest fighter I ever saw, the one I wanted so much to know.”

Heinz believed that writing and boxing were intertwined. “A good writer is like a good fighter,” he said. “You keep your reader in front of you, moving him around. You want to keep the reader on his toes, wondering what comes next.”

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Argentina

The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Published

on

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.

Published

on

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

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

Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

Published

on

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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Continue Reading

Trending