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RASKIN’S RANTS: Me On Me, Plus Me On Arce, Oscar, Super Six & Other Non-Me Stuff

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On last week’s subscribers-only Ring Theory podcast, I did something very self-absorbed, initiating a discussion about my Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvelous Marvin Hagler oral history article that ran on Grantland last Thursday. But I refuse to let that moment represent the apex of my self-absorption. I’m going to spin even deeper into a pathetic, humblebraggin’ vortex of vanity by making my miniature mailbag section all about the Leonard-Hagler piece as well.

Specifically, I’m going to run a handful of the Facebook comments about the article. I don’t actually use Facebook (several years ago I declared that my wife was wasting her life away Facebooking, and now I’m just being stubborn), so my “Rants” column is as good a place as any to respond to the comments. And to temper my self-love just a tad, I’ll start with a negative comment (which I’ll note, because I really am that vain, was the only negative comment):

Steve Marantz writes: “fabulous writing by eric raskin! he sure knows how to lift quotes from a book. what a writer!”

Two other people I spoke with asked how many of the quotes were from interviews and how many came from George Kimball’s book, Four Kings, so apparently this confused a few people and is worth clearing up: The only quotes in the oral history that were “lifted from a book” were the three quotes attributed to Kimball. (A few weeks before Kimball died, he told me in an email that he wasn’t well enough to speak but gave me permission to quote from the book as I saw fit.) Everything else in the oral history came from original interviews I conducted in June and July of this year.

Francois Tourville writes: “This was perhaps the best article I’ve ever read on sports. On par with Federer – the religious experience.”

Obviously, I’m no David Foster Wallace. And no matter how self-absorbed I might be, I must acknowledge that Francois is going way overboard. It just happens that I’ve chosen to acknowledge it in a public forum where I can repeat his comment for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Frank Minsk writes: “always believed that Marvin Hagler was the greatest fighter ever, pound for pound. He spent his whole career getting avoided and screwed over by the boxing establishment. Reading this article got me fired up again about it, great piece of writing. To this day I believe that they gave Leonard the fight for running not boxing. I gave up on the so called ‘sport’ of boxing after this fight and have not watched a single fight since. I don’t think I missed anything.”

Rather than respond to this myself, I’ll let fellow Facebook commenter Kent Towers do it, because I absolutely love what he wrote: “Oh, Frank. Buddy, you missed Arturo Gatti’s amazing career. You missed Jose Luis Castillo vs. Diego Corrales. My life would be incomplete without the Morales & Barrera wars. Sweet Pea, De La Hoya, Tito Trinidad. Julio Cesar Chavez against Meldrick Taylor. Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao have already fought two instant classics. I live for the NFL, and I know boxing isn’t the sport it once was, but the highest highs of an all-time great bout can not be matched by any other sport. I can’t rewatch a football game or a baseball game from beginning to end. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Castillo-Corales at least 12 times. Tyson-Douglas, oh my lord. Dude, Gatti-Ward I, II & III. I think the 10th round of Gatti-Ward I made my eyes tear up.”

And lastly, Colin Horst writes: “Expertly done, and a joy to read. My preference is for aggressors, so I favor Hagler. From that perspective, I must disagree with [Barry] Tompkins: ‘I think, unfortunately, his legacy will be the fight with Sugar Ray Leonard.’ His legacy is The War with Hearns.”

It should go without saying that in an oral history, the writer’s personal opinions are not supposed to reveal themselves. So when an interview subject says something I disagree with, if it’s interesting and adds to the narrative, I’ll run it. And that was the case with this quote from Tompkins. I think Tompkins and Horst are both half-correct. Hagler’s legacy is many things to hardcore fight fans, but to the general public, it’s two fights: KO 3 Hearns and L 12 Leonard. Those are the fights people think of when they hear the name Marvin Hagler—and if anything, I lean toward Horst and say they think of the Hearns fight first. I think both Leonard and Hagler are fairly accurately rated in the annals of history: Hagler as one of the top three or four middleweights ever and one of the top three fighters of the ’80s, Leonard as a borderline entry into the top 10 of all-time, pound-for-pound. I don’t feel either man is particularly overrated or underrated some 25 years later. Both were great, and I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity by the editors at Grantland to kickstart a new conversation about them.

And with that, I’ll stop publicly pleasuring myself and get to the weekly Rants:

Some have labeled Andre Ward suffering a cut in sparring and his fight with Carl Froch getting postponed to be par for the course with the Super Six tournament. I say we need about two more postponements of the finals and then a last-second opponent switch before it’s par for the course.

Seriously, though, I’m amped for this fight, whenever it happens. Showtime and Ken Hershman have done something very positive for boxing, and if we have to wait a couple more months to crown a champion, so be it.

Well, Bob Arum and Richard Schaefer getting along was fun while it lasted, huh? Somebody needs to loop Oscar De La Hoya in on what’s been going on, since he tweeted on Friday, “Its great to be on good terms with bob arum because the possibilities are endless starting with Canelo vs Chavez at 156.” In related news, Oscar is wishing Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez all the best in their lives together.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Jorge Arce’s inspired 2011 comeback and impressive revenge win over Simphiwe Nongqayi on Saturday night. But I do know this: I never bet on the guy whose trunks look like a Rubik’s Cube.

It’s not as if we needed any further proof that Rocky Juarez is one of the unluckiest fighters of his generation, but we got it anyway when he rocked Vicente Escobedo’s world with a left hook with exactly one second left in the sixth round on Friday night. If that punch had landed two seconds earlier, I suspect the outcome would have been very different.

In a weekend full of low-profile, high-contact action, the best fight of all was Adam Carrera’s six-round win over Adolfo Landeros in the Telefutura opener. I was watching it on DVR the next morning, and it was the kind of fight that I almost wanted to fast-forward when I saw their records (19-4 vs. 21-21-2) because it was a six-rounder between two guys who are going nowhere. I’m glad I didn’t press fast-forward. Boxing is a sport that rewards fans when they least expect it.

I thought BoxingChannel.tv’s Al Bernstein absolutely nailed it on how the American mainstream media gets their boxing coverage all wrong: http://boxingchannel.tv/mainstream-us-sports-media-blows-it-again-after-mayweather-ortiz-fight. And I’ll take it a step farther and say that the Mayweather-Ortiz fight was in no way a letdown. For action, drama, and moments we’ll remember and talk about for months or even years to come, it far exceeded expectations. Anyone who wrote that this event was a “black eye for boxing” should (a) ask themselves why they’re writing for a living if they insist on communicating in tired clichés rather than original phrases, and (b) stop writing about boxing altogether because they clearly understand nothing about the sport. Mayweather-Ortiz was a bad night for boxing the same way Paris Hilton’s sex tape was bad for her career.

One last after-the-fact note on Mayweather-Ortiz that I hadn’t found another place to mention yet: Danny Garcia told me and other reporters a couple of days before the fight that the final two referees under consideration for the assignment were Joe Cortez and Robert Byrd. I’m picturing Keith Kizer, sitting alone in his office, asking himself, “Hmm, do I go with one my least competent officials, or one of my most competent? I just can’t decide. You know what, give me the guy who’s ruined every fight he’s worked in the last five years!” Deciding between Byrd and Cortez should be like that timeless question asked in Billy Madison: “Who would you rather [sleep with]: Meg Ryan or Jack Nicholson?”

So, fight fans, which of these do you ignore more quickly these days: updates on the chart-climbing status of the Manny Pacquiao-Dan Hill “Sometimes When We Touch” duet, or trash talk from David Haye directed at Vitali Klitschko?

In case you missed the BS Report podcast with guest Brian Kenny last Tuesday, Bill Simmons said at the end to BK, “I know down the road you’re going to do some boxing, you can’t talk about it yet.” You may recall in this space a couple of weeks ago, I predicted that Kenny would get the blow-by-blow gig on the new HBO boxing program due to launch in 2012, and I’m standing by that prediction.

Speaking of podcasts, there was a double dose of Ring Theory last week: the free Grantland Network episode focusing on Mayweather-Ortiz analysis (http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=7002623) and the subscribers-only edition (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) in which my broadcast partner Bill Dettloff brilliantly compared someone’s head to a “bumpy egg.” If you want to know who the bumpy egghead in question is, well, it costs you barely a dollar a show to find out …

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.

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Former World Bantamweight Champion Richie Sandoval Passes Away at Age 63

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Richie Sandoval, who won the WBA and lineal bantamweight title in one of the biggest upsets of the 1980s and then, not quite two years later, suffered near-fatal injuries in a title defense, has passed away at the age of 63.

News circulated fast in the Las Vegas boxing community on Monday, July 22, the grapevine actuated by a tweet from Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler: “Boxing and the Top Rank family lost one of our own last night in the passing of former WBA bantamweight champion Richie Sandoval. It hurts personally and professionally to know that Richie is gone at age 63. RIP campeon.”

Details are vague but the cause of death was apparently a sudden heart attack that Sandoval experienced while visiting the Southern California home of his son of the same name.

Richie Sandoval put the LA County community of Pomona, California, on the boxing map before Shane Mosley came along and gave the town a more frequently-cited mention in the sports section of the papers. He came from a fighting family. An older brother, Albert “Superfly” Sandoval, became a big draw at LA’s fabled Olympic Auditorium while building a 35-2-1 record that included a failed bid to capture Lupe Pintor’s world bantamweight title.

Richie was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic boxing team that was stranded when U.S. President Jimmy Carter (and many other world leaders) boycotted the event as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.

As a pro, Sandoval’s signature win was a 15th-round stoppage of Jeff Chandler. They fought on April 7, 1984 in Atlantic City. Chandler was making the tenth defense of his world bantamweight title.

Despite being a heavy underdog, Sandoval dominated the fight, winning almost every round until the referee stepped in and waived it off. Chandler, who was 33-1-2 heading in and had avenged his lone defeat, never fought again.

Sandoval made two successful defenses before risking his title against Gabby Canizales on the undercard of Hagler-Mugabi in the outdoor stadium at Caesars Palace. In round seven, Sandoval, who had a hellish time making the weight, was knocked down three times and suffered a seizure as he collapsed from the third knockdown. Stretchered out of the ring, he was rushed to the hospital where doctors reduced the swelling in his brain and beat the odds to save his life. This would be Richie’s lone defeat. He finished his pro career with a record of 29-1 (17 KOs).

Bob Arum cushioned some of the pain by giving Richie a $25,000 bonus and offering him a lifetime job at Top Rank which Richie accepted. And let the record show that Arum was good to his word.

A more elaborate portrait of Richie Sandoval was published in these pages in 2017. You can check it out HERE. May he rest in peace.

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Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul Vanquish Overmatched Foes in Tampa

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Amanda “the Real Deal” Serrano mowed through knockout puncher Stevie Morgan in less than two rounds on Saturday and Jake Paul soundly defeated bare knuckle champion Mike Perry by knockout too.

Paul and Serrano move on to bigger things.

“It’s feels great, it feels amazing. My 50th fight, my 31st knockout, I’m super blessed,” said Serrano.

Despite jumping up three weight divisions Serrano (47-2-1, 31 KOs) showed more than 17,000 fans and Morgan (14-2, 13 KOs) at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, how she was able to win seven weight divisions.

Fans and perhaps Katie Taylor breathed a sigh of relief that Serrano is truly back. In Serrano’s last fight she was forced to withdraw back in March due to an accident to her eye moments before a fight. Now the Puerto Rican and Irish super stars will meet in Texas on November 15.

Fans can expect a rematch of one of the greatest fights of all time.

Tonight, before walking into the boxing ring, Morgan had commented that of all the top female fighters Serrano was low hanging fruit. The Puerto Rican legend merely shrugged her shoulders and replied that she lets her fists do the talking.

Both fighters hesitated touching gloves but did. After that, Serrano immediately went into assassin’s mode and moved forward while punching like a finely tuned hemi-engine. Morgan tried to keep up but discovered Serrano was not easy to hit.

Serrano moved forward smoothly while slipping and punching. A stiff looking Morgan, whose legs seemed unbent, tried to fend off the Puerto Rican champion’s blows but was smacked repeatedly in the first round with lefts and rights.

When the bell rang to end the first round, it was obvious that Morgan was overmatched.

As the second round commenced Serrano immediately slipped into attack gear behind her southpaw defensive guard. Once again, she fired combinations while moving quickly forward against the taller Morgan.

It was even worse than the first round as Serrano unloaded a dozen unanswered blows forcing the referee to stop the fight at 38 seconds of the second round.

“I think these girls were mistaking my kindness for weakness,” said Serrano. “If you’re not on my level that’s what happens.”

Morgan quickly learned she’s not on the championship level.

“Stevie Morgan just started a little while ago. I knew it would have been a little too much for her,” said Serrano. “My hat goes off to her. It’s not easy.”

Now it’s on to Katie Taylor.

Jake Paul KOs Mike Perry

In the co-main event Jake Paul (10-1, 7 KOs) floored Mike Perry (6-1) the Bare Knuckle Champion in the first and second round of the cruiserweight fight. And then battered the smaller fighter with a jolting jab to the body and head that opened up cuts on the former MMA fighter.

Paul continued to show improvement and proved once again that whether its MMA or Bare Knuckle fighting, his boxing skills are superior to their combat champions.

“Man, he’s tough as nails. I’m sorry it took so long. Respect man. He’s the king of violence,” said Paul about his fallen foe whose nickname is the “King of Violence.”

Paul attacked the body with a strong left jab while circling slowly left and right. Perry stood straight up with a low guard and his chin up. Paul hit that chin repeatedly and eventually cracked it in the fifth round.

Perry survived.

In the sixth round the bigger blonde fighter Paul bludgeoned Perry with another left jab and then opened with a barrage of blows that blasted the bare knuckle fighter to the canvas. Though he beat the count, he stumbled and the referee stopped the fight at 1:12 of the sixth round.

“I kind of expected that,” said Paul.

Perry was honest about the outcome.

“I tried man, but the kid hit me hard,” said Perry.

Now it’s on to Mike Tyson on November 15 in Arlington, Texas.

“Mike. I love you. But this is my sport now. I’m so honored but I’m going to take your throne.”

Other Bouts

A lightweight battle between undefeated fighters saw Canada’s Lucas Bahdi (17-0, 15 KOs) lose every round until he unloaded a three-punch combination that rendered Ashton Sylve (11-1, 9 KOs) unconscious before he hit the canvas.

Sylve utilized his speed and counters for five rounds and seemed to cruise for five years. But Bahdi showed a good chin especially against lightning uppercuts that sneaked through the guard.

“He’s very twitchy and very quick. I was trying to get to his body early on,” said Bahdi. “He’s very fast and has good counter punches.

In the sixth round Sylve was opening up a little more with his hands down and Bahdi saw the opening and quickly launched a right followed by a left hook that knocked out Sylve before he hit the floor at 2:27 of the sixth round.

“I knew his head’s there in the center all the time,” said Bahdi. “I think I stole the show tonight.”

Prelim Bouts

A rematch between lightweights saw Corey Marksman (10-0-1) win by majority decision against Tony Aguilar (12-1-1) in a back-and-forth battle. Marksman out-worked Aguilar with an especially effective counter-right that scored repeatedly. Their first encounter last February ended in a draw.

Shadasia Green (14-1, 11 KOs) stumbled a bit but got the win against Natasha Spence (8-5-2) to win by unanimous decision in a super middleweight. It was her first fight since losing to Franchon Crews-Dezurn for the world title.

Green was cruising for most of the fight behind a sharp jab and rights to the body but during an offensive out burst Spence caught her with a counter right and floored her in the seventh. It was half punch and half slip, but she was knocked down.

Though Green did not get a knockout she emerged with the win 78-73, 77-74 twice.

“I had fun in there tonight,” said Green. “I belong at the top with the best.”

Alexis Chaparro (2-0) knocked out Kevin Hill (1-2) with a five-punch combination at 2:01 of the second round in a middleweight fight.

Angel Barrientes (12-1) defeated Edwin Rodriguez (12-9-2) by majority decision after six rounds in a super bantamweight fight. The scores were 57-57, 60-54 twice for Barrientes who resides in Las Vegas.

Photo credit: Esther Lin / MVP Promotions

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Nakatani Strengthens his Pound-for-Pound Credentials: Blasts Out Astrolabio

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Junto Nakatani is the best 118-pound boxer in the world. Tonight, in Tokyo, he reinforced that judgment with a first-round knockout of Vincent Astrolabio at Japan’s national sumo arena. A short left to the solar plexus left the Filipino writhing on the canvas. He tried to rise but fell back down, forcing referee Tom Taylor to waive it off. It was all over in less than three minutes, 2:37 to be precise. Nakatani (28-0, 21 KOs) was making the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title after previously winning title belts at 112 and 115.

Tall for the weight class at five-foot-seven-and-a-half, the 26-year-old Japanese southpaw produced his second highlight reel knockout in his last four fights. The first come in May of last year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where he scored a frightening, 12th-round one-punch knockout of Andrew Moloney.

Nakatani won’t have to travel far to unify the belt. The other three current bantamweight champions are also Japanese. Down the road, potentially, is a showdown with countryman Naoya Inoue. That match, should it transpire, would be the biggest domestic fight in Japanese boxing history. Astrolabio, who had been stopped only once previously and was making his second stab at a world title, declined to 18-5.

Other Title Fight

LA’s Anthony Olascuaga, a stablemate of Nakatani (both train in LA under the tutelage of Rudy Hernandez), won the vacant WBO flyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Riku Kanu. A left uppercut put Kano (22-5) on the deck for the full count. The official time was 2:50 of round three.

Olascuaga (7-1, 5 KOs) was rucked out of obscurity in April of last year when he dropped down a weight class and performed far better than expected, albeit in a losing effort, against Kenshiro Teraji, a fight that he took on 10 days’ notice. Despite his inexperience and the locale, the LA fighter entered the ring a consensus 3/1 favorite over Kanu.

Also

In his first 10-rounder, ever-improving Tenshin Nasukawa (4-0, 2 KOs) stopped U.S. invader Jonathan Rodriguez in the third round. Five unanswered punches climaxed by a straight left ended matters at the 1:49 mark. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 120 pounds.

Nasukawa, a baby-faced, 25-year-old southpaw, transitioned to boxing after becoming famous in Japan for his kickboxing exploits. His first foray into boxing was an exhibition with Floyd Mayweather who knocked him out in the opening round, but he’s made considerable progress since then.

Against Rodriguez, Nasakawa was dominant from the get-go. Rodriguez was in dire straits as the second round ended. The first fighter from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to fight in Japan, Rodriguez (17-3-1) joins the ranks of one-hit wonders. He scored a shocking first-round KO of former title-holder Khalid Yafai, but then lost his very next fight en route to this affair.

The promotion lost a bit of luster when the title fight between WBO 115-pound belt-holder Kosei Tanaka and Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Rodriguez (no relation to Nasukawa’s opponent of the same name) fell out when Rodriguez weighed a staggering six pounds over the limit.

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