Connect with us

Featured Articles

Terence Crawford Hopes to Embellish His Case for No. 1 on Oct. 13 on ESPN

Bernard Fernandez

Published

on

losing team

Upon the conclusion of the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif., one thing you won’t see is the losing team excitedly running around the Levi’s Stadium field, smiling players and coaches on the wrong side of the score thrusting a pair of fingers skyward and shouting, “We’re No. 2!”

Maybe even more so than in team sports, boxing isn’t big on the horseshoes-and-hand grenades premise that getting close sometimes is good enough. Going home with the consolation prize is never good enough for Super Bowl and World Series runners-up, and it damn sure isn’t enough for elite, championship-level fighters who don’t have to share the glory of victory, or the disappointment of defeat, with teammates. While promoters, managers and trainers provide a measure of group support, in the ring every fighter succeeds or falters on his own. The boxer on fight night, stripped down to shoes, trunks and padded gloves, is as nearly naked and isolated as any athlete can be.

WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) defends his title against that sanctioning body’s 14th-ranked contender, Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs), in the ESPN-televised main event on Oct. 13 at the CHI Health Center in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Neb. It isn’t exactly a mismatch on the level of, say, Christians vs. lions in the Roman Colosseum, but it would be quite the stunner if the challenger were to upset someone who is regarded in some quarters (but not as many as he would like) as the finest pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and by most everyone else as a highly qualified aspirant to that designation.

Crawford is 30, still in the most productive phase of his prime, and although he saying all the right things – he is focusing solely on Benavidez, yada, yada, yada – there is a part of him that realizes he is and likely will continue to be embroiled in an ongoing quest with Top Rank stablemate Vasiliy Lomachenko for recognition of a higher sort than some alphabet organization’s bejeweled belt. He staunchly believes he is A-No. 1, king of the hill, top of the heap, and summarily dismissing the more than competent Benavidez is not apt to move the needle much toward his universal acceptance as the best of the best.

When the matchup with Benavidez was announced, Crawford said the intramural rivalry with Lomachenko, which is not apt to ever be settled inside the ropes, given their weight differences (Loma, the WBA lightweight champ, already has moved up two divisions and might not have the frame to go much higher), is only a figment of other people’s imagination.

“I am the best fighter in the world, hands down. If I have a vote, I vote for myself,” Crawford said with the finality of someone who is cocksure of his own ability and brooks no dissent.

During a conference call with the media on Thursday to discuss his first defense of the 147-pound title he gained with an almost perfunctory ninth-round stoppage of Australia’s Jeff Horn on June 9, Crawford did little to camouflage his feelings about the matter, even if he did sort of dance around it a bit in a nod toward false modesty and political correctness.

Asked about who should be the consensus pick for that coveted No. 1 spot, Crawford said, “It depends on who you ask. Some people rate me No. 1, some people rate me No. 2. I can’t complain if I’m in the top two in almost everybody’s ratings.”

From the perspective of Top Rank executives, however, the polls have closed and fight fans should pledge fealty to the company’s preferred candidate, Crawford, to assume the role previously held by such legendary pound-for-pound monarchs as Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones Jr.

“Terence `Bud’ Crawford is the world’s best boxer,” Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum, who was not on the conference call, said some weeks back, a reversal of his previous endorsement of Ukrainian sensation as numero uno.

Top Rank president Todd duBoef, who was on the conference call, also cast his ballot for the Omaha, Neb., fighter, whom he described as “the gold standard in boxing” who has “just electrified everybody with both boxing skill and power. When Terence Crawford gets in the ring, it’s like Alabama in football. He is that dominant.”

The question of “Who’s really No. 1?” is, of course, always a matter of opinion. Maybe Lomachenko simply doesn’t concern himself with an unofficial and arbitrary title, even if he has already been awarded it on several fronts. Perhaps Top Rank is especially sensitive to stroking Crawford’s ego, which might be a sound business decision in light of the fact that there potentially are a raft of better and more profitable fights to be made in a deep welterweight division than for Lomachenko at 135 pounds.

Going to the scorecards, as it were, it would appear that Lomachenko is slightly ahead in the chase for No. 1. He has the top spot to Crawford’s No. 2 in the Boxing Writers Association of America P4P ratings, as well as those listed by The Ring magazine, ESPN and Boxing News. Boxingscene.com has Crawford at No. 1 and Lomachenko second, with the outliers being World Boxing News, which has Loma first and Crawford an almost-unfathomable fifth, and Newsday, which places Loma first and Crawford third.

Moving forward, Crawford would appear to have the better chance of enhancing his claim to No. 1 if – and it’s a big if – Top Rank is able to tear down some of the barricades that presently separate the Nebraskan and fellow welter champs Errol Spence Jr. (IBF), Keith Thurman (WBA “super”) and Shawn Porter Jr. (WBC).

Porter claimed the vacant WBC title with a close unanimous decision over Danny Garcia on Sept. 9 in Brooklyn, whereupon Spence, who appeared at the postfight press conference, said it was “unlikely” he would ever swap punches with Crawford because, being affiliated with Premier Boxing Champions honcho Al Haymon, who deals almost exclusively with Fox and Showtime, he was “on the other side of the street” from Crawford, who is under contract to ESPN. Thurman is now with British promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing and Porter with PBC, making for an obstacle-strewn path to making bouts that a lot of fight fans would want to see. Compounding matters is the fact that Arum has cast Haymon as his newest arch-rival, sliding into the spot previously occupied by Don King and then Richard Schaefer.

But duBoef said that where there’s a will, there probably is a way to get a deal done. He said he and Top Rank are ready to storm all enemy battlements if by doing so it would gain Crawford the sort of marquee opponents that would make him as big a star as his obvious skills suggest.

“I want to make this crystal-clear,” duBoef said. “With our re-signing of Terence, regardless of (any other fighter’s affiliation), we will take on all comers. That’s it. We don’t care where you are, what you do, we will take on all comers.

“Terence is an elite fighter. When there was a nice welterweight fight in early September (Porter-Garcia), all they did was talk about Terence Crawford. Terence wants to fight the biggest; we want to provide him with the biggest. We’re going after all those (other welterweight champions). If they want to do it and we want to do it, let’s just get it done. We’ll figure out a solution.”

Step one involves Crawford, who has become his home state’s best feel-good sports story when measured against the utter collapse of the University of Nebraska’s proud football tradition, which looks and smells like No. 2 of another sort, getting past Benavidez. It should be a relative gimme, but if history means anything there is this to consider.

The path to No. 1, like that to love, never runs smooth.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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

Featured Articles

Odds Review for Friday’s Boxing on Telemundo

Miguel Iturrate

Published

on

boxing odds
South Florida promoter Tuto Zabala Jr has a seven fight card planned for the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee this Friday, February 22nd that sees three undefeated prospects headline the show. For more than two decades, Zabala Jr has promoted the sport in Mexico and Florida and Friday’s event will air on Spanish language Telemundo in the United States, so check your local listings for start times.
A pair of ten round bouts hold the main event spots as undefeated Yomar Alamo faces veteran Manuel Mendez at welterweight and likewise unbeaten Carlos Monroe takes on Jonathan Tavira in a middleweight bout.
The 23 year old Alamo is from fight hungry Puerto Rico and he is considered a key piece to promoter Zabala Jr’s plans to run shows back on the island. The 28 year old Mendez once carried the ‘prospect’ label as well but Mendez is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The experience of being in there with the likes of Sonny Fredrickson (19-1) and undefeated Johnathan Navarro (15-0) will make him Alamo’s toughest test to date. The welterweight division is crowded and Alamo is going to need to keep winning beyond Friday to get noticed, but he already banks on the fervent support of his “boriqua” crowd. Promoter Zabala Jr may be wondering if matchmaker Ruben DeJesus picked the right guy in Mendez. Alamo’s record in Puerto Rico looks to have a good bit of fluff. He didn’t face an opponent with a single pro win until his seventh fight. He faced 40 year old vet Edwin Lopez in 2016, but Lopez hurt his hand in the first round and could not continue, so Alamo is largely untested.
Middleweight prospect Carlos Monroe looks to go 12-0 as he steps in to his first bout scheduled for ten rounds. Veteran Jonathan Tavira provides the opposition for the 24 year old Monroe, who turned pro in December of 2017 and notched 10 fights in calendar year 2018. Monroe has been brought along carefully, as the combined record of his 11 opponents stands at 46-98-8. Tavira has been in there with the likes of Arif Magomedov, Dario Bredicean and Esquiva Falcao, all undefeated fighters on the way up. Tavira hits hard but he has been stopped five times in his six losses, so look for Monroe to improve on his eight KOs to date.
2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas looks to improve to 10-0 in an eight round bantamweight bout against Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5). Vargas was originally scheduled to take on Wilner Soto, a veteran with a 21-5 record and he was a big favorite in that match-up.
Below are the current lines as we start off fight week.
Fri 2/22 – Osceola Heritage Center – Kissimmee, Florida
Welterweight 10 rounds –
Manuel Mendez(16-4-1) +160
Yomar Alamo(15-0)         -210
Middleweight 10 rounds –
Jonathan Tavira (17-6)            +550
Carlos Monroe (11-0)             -1050
Bantamweight 8 rounds –
Lucas Rafael Baez        +1150
Antonio Vargas            -2450
(Opponent change for Vargas, line should be similar for new opponent Lucas Rafael Baez)

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Blake Caparello Looks To Grab WBA Regional Belt This Friday

Miguel Iturrate

Published

on

Caparello
This Friday night in Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello returns to action as he faces youngster Reagan Dessaix for the WBA’s Oceania title in the main event of a planned six fight card at The Melbourne Pavilion.
Dessaix currently holds the belt that Caparello held back in 2017, and the 22-year-old is hoping a win on Friday will put him on the international radar. It is where Caparello, who enters this fight as a 32-year-old, has been and hopes to get to again.
Those are the basics of Friday’s main event, the youngster Dessaix making a significant leap in competition level as he looks to get ranked internationally, while the veteran Caparello is hopeful a win will propel him closer to another world title shot.
Caparello laid claim to the IBO’s world title at 175 pounds back in October of 2013 when he won a comfortable unanimous decision over veteran Allan Green. Caparello, who was 17-0-1 at the time of the Green fight, went on to an introductory fight in the United States, and a win there saw him earn an August of 2014 title shot against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Caparello has to feel he was close to a world title as he had the feared Kovalev down in round one before the “Krusher” took him out in round two. Since then, he has fought Isaac Chilemba and Andre Dirrell, extending both ranked veterans the full fight distance. The March of 2018 loss to Chilemba was for the WBC’s world title, and Caparello managed to go 2-0 the rest of the calendar year.
Green, Kovalev, Dirrell and Chilemba. The bottom line is that Dessaix had a solid amateur career in Australia, but there is no one with resumes like the men Caparello has faced when asked to step onto the world scene.
The WBA’s current world champion is Dmitry Bivol (15-0), who is making the fourth defense of his title in March against hard hitting Joe Smith Jr. The veteran Caparello could mount a case for a mandatory shot against either man with a win on Friday, while Dessaix would likely have to keep fighting and winning before earning a shot at a world title.
The co-feature bout is for the Australian title at 154 pounds and sees 31 year old Billy Klimov facing Joel Camilleri. Camilleri is favored as he has had a lot more professional experience than Limov, who turned professional at 29 years old. Strictly regional stuff here.
Both fights have lines at some of the sportsbooks. Check out the numbers as they were at the start of fight week below.
Fri 2/22 – The Melbourne Pavilion – Victoria, Australia
WBA Oceania Title
Light Heavyweight 10 rounds –
Reagan Dessaix(16-1)         +255
Blake Caparello (28-3-1)    -365
Australian Title
Super Welterweight 10 rounds –
Billy Limov (4-0-1)     +200
Joel Camilleri(16-5-1) -280
Check out the link for the live event right here. http://www.epicentre.tv/events/blake-caparello-v-reagan-dessaix/

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Will Fury’s Deal With ESPN Torpedo The Fights That Fight Fans Want to See?

Arne K. Lang

Published

on

Fury's deal with ESPN

For the past few weeks, boxing fans have been led to believe that the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was ever so-close to being a done deal. But in the world of professional boxing where Machiavellian characters seemingly hold all the positions of power, nothing is ever a done deal until it’s finally finalized. Today’s announcement that Tyson Fury has signed with ESPN is the latest case in point. It’s a three-fight deal that will reportedly earn the Gypsy King $80 million if he can successfully hurdle the first two legs.

As Thomas Hauser has noted, what we have in boxing today is something similar to leagues in other sports. There’s the Top Rank/ESPN League, the Matchroom/DAZN League, and the PBC/Showtime/FOX League. We would add that these are intramural leagues. Occasionally there’s cross-pollination, similar to when the Yankees play the Mets in a game that counts in the regular season standings, but basically the boxers in each league compete against each other.

We have no doubt that WBC/WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua will eventually fight Wilder and/or Fury, but it now appears that these matches, when they transpire, will have marinated beyond the sell date. The action inside the ring may mirror the Mayweather-Pacquiao dud.

A match between Joshua and Wilder is already somewhat less enticing than it would have been if it had come to fruition last autumn. The odds lengthened in favor of Joshua after Wilder’s raggedy performance against Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

True, the Bronze Bomber almost pulled the fight out of the fire with a thunderous punch but he was out-slicked in most of the rounds and it wasn’t as if he was fighting a bigger version of Pernell Whitaker. Before that fight, casual fans were less tuned-in to Deontay Wilder’s limitations.

It was reported that the Wilder-Fury rematch was headed to Las Vegas or New York, but that Las Vegas fell out of the running when the State Athletic Commission insisted on using Nevada officials. Fury was the one that balked.

In hindsight we should have seen that this was fake news. No Nevada officials were involved in Fury-Wilder I. The judges were from California, Canada, and Great Britain. The California judge voted against Fury, scoring the fight 115-111, a tally for which he was excoriated. The judge from Great Britain, like many ringside reporters, had it draw. The TV crews, especially the crew from Great Britain, left no doubt that Fury should have had his hand raised and the controversy made the hoped-for rematch more alluring.

So who will be Tyson Fury’s next opponent? Speculation immediately centered on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev, who turns 38 of May 4, sports a 26-1 record. He was slated to fight Anthony Joshua in October of 2017 but suffered a torn biceps in training and was forced to withdraw. In his most recent bout he outpointed Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. He’s currently ranked #1 by the IBF.

On Dec. 8 of last year, Bob Arum announced that he had hammered out a deal to co-promote Pulev. It was subsequently reported that Pulev’s first fight under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella would be against Finland’s Robert Helenius on March 23 in Los Angeles. Six days ago, the distinguished European fight writer Per Ake Persson told his readers that the fight had fallen out, ostensibly because the parties could not come to terms.

Tyson Fury is the most charismatic white heavyweight to come down the pike since Gerry Cooney and the big galoot is bigger than Cooney ever was as he has avid followers on both sides of the Atlantic and Cooney didn’t have social media to enhance his profile. I have little doubt that ESPN will recoup their investment in him. However, deals in boxing are never consummated with an eye on uplifting the sport – on patching things up with the disaffected – and here’s yet another example.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

 

Continue Reading

Trending