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Pacquiao-Marquez: The Fight Week Experience From A To Z (Part I)

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Ah, Las Vegas. One of my favorite places in the world to be for one night. One of my least favorite places in the world to be for five nights.

For the second time in a span of eight weeks, I survived five days and nights of the Vegas fight-week experience, this time to cover Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III as the primary blogger for HBO.com. I’m a physical wreck, I’m burnt out on writing about boxing, and the caffeine and the alcohol are saying all manner of nasty things about one another as they jockey for position in my bloodstream. But duty for TSS calls, so here is Part I of another A-to-Z rundown of the fight week experience:

A is for Alvarado

What boxing fan didn’t fall head over heels in love with Mike Alvarado on Saturday night? The dude lost each of the first five rounds against Breidis Prescott on my scorecard, was bleeding profusely out of myriad holes on the inside and outside of his face, and then started coming on. I finally gave him a round in the sixth. Thought he eked out the seventh too. Then he took the eighth and ninth as Prescott faded. And finally Alvarado dropped and stopped Prescott with just over a minute remaining in the final round, as inspiring a come-from-behind victory as we’ve seen all year. Deservedly so, “Alvarado” was trending on Twitter afterward. If it’s good enough to trend on Twitter, it’s good enough to earn the “A” in this article.

B is for “Berry, Berry Hard”

No, “Berry, Berry Hard” is not some weird new fruity drink I enjoyed at the Rouge bar at MGM Grand. It’s how Marquez claimed to have trained for this fight when he stepped up to the podium at the final prefight press conference. Meanwhile, a runner-up for the letter “B”: Bart Barry. I had the pleasure of meeting my fellow Monday morning boxing columnist on Saturday, and I can attest that he’s as fine a chap as he is a writer.

C is for Counterpunching & Controversy

These were the key words coming out the Pacquiao-Marquez fight, and they really go together because it seems you can’t get rewarded these days for outboxing a guy without moving forward. I scored the fight 116-112 for Marquez. Admittedly, about nine of the 12 rounds were a challenge to score. So I’m not going to say that Pacquiao getting the decision is all-time heist. But I still feel pretty strongly that the judges blew it and gave the victory to the wrong guy. Marquez did what he wanted to do, and it was all based around his mastery as a counterpuncher. Pacquiao did very little of what he wanted to do, because he was concerned from the start (rightfully so) about getting countered. But the judges apparently gave the majority of the close rounds to the guy who was “making the fight.” To my eyes, they rewarded ineffective aggression. It’s a little like scoring a basketball game based on shots taken. Call me crazy, but I score it based on shots that go in the little orange hoop, and regardless of what the CompuBox stats said, Marquez had the edge in that department. Hey, if you had it a draw or thought Pacquiao won by a point or two, I can see where you’re coming from. But in my opinion, Marquez has more of a right to complain about this decision than either of the first two.

D is for Desert Storm

I hated the Tim Bradley-Joel Casamayor matchup from the moment it was signed, but given that nobody ever looks great against Casamayor (except maybe Marquez a few years back), “Desert Storm” turned in a strong performance, getting the old man out of there in eight rounds instead of letting the ugliness last for the full 12. I bumped into Bradley at the airport on my way out of town and said as much to him, and he seemed to appreciate it after hearing a lot of boos the night before. I know that fans at home and in the arena weren’t happy and that it was by far the worst fight on the card, but I don’t think any of that should be held against Bradley.

E is for ESPN’s Hot Button

The boxing editor at ESPN.com, Jason Langendorf, emailed me mid-week looking for someone to take a pro-Marquez position for the website’s “Hot Button” debate, so I obliged because I believed all along this fight would be competitive. Take a moment and check it out for yourself if you haven’t read it: http://espn.go.com/boxing/hot. I guess the Hot Button score is Raskin 1, Rafael 0. How dare he challenge me with his primitive skills?

F is for Frazier

The story of the week, outside of Pacquiao-Marquez, was the death of the great Joe Frazier, a Philly legend whom I had the honor of interviewing at length back in 1998 and then hanging out with at the airport as we endured flight delays together a couple of years later. Bill Dettloff, who knew Frazier—as a fighter and as a man—better than I did, paid tribute to him quite well on last week’s Grantland Network episode of Ring Theory (http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=7217101), and I can’t top what Bill said, so I won’t try. You know who else can’t top Bill’s tribute? Michael Buffer. “Chiseled ebony steel”—really, Mike? For the last time, I’m begging you, just read what it says on the index cards.

G is for Glenn Trowbridge

By my rough estimate, about 70 percent of the ringside media had Marquez winning, 25 percent scored it a draw, and five percent went for Pac-Man. But even among that five percent, nobody I spoke to was cool with Trowbridge’s 116-112 scorecard in Pacquiao’s favor. As the scores were about to be announced, I foolishly believed Marquez was going to get the nod. The 114-114 made me nervous. The 115-113 did nothing to ease my nerves. But when the 116-112 card was read, I relaxed. “Okay,” I thought. “They got it right. There’s no possible way anyone gave Pacquiao eight rounds, so Marquez is evening the series at 1-1-1.” Turns out I let my guard down, and Glenn Trowbridge sucker punched me.

H is for Home Sweet Home

I wish I could tell you that after my five days in Vegas, home sweet home was precisely where I was headed. But instead, I’m writing this column from a hotel room in Chicago, where I’m spending this entire week training for a new job. So when it’s all said and done, I’ll have been away from my wife and kids for 10 consecutive days. I can’t wait to get home and catch up on my DVR’d programming. I mean, uh, I can’t wait to get home and give everyone hugs and kisses. Bottom line: I can’t wait to get home. Ten days is a long friggin’ time. I am officially a hypocrite for ragging on Chad Dawson for dumping Emanuel Steward because Dawson didn’t want to go away to training camp.

I is for InsideHBOBoxing.com

That is the web address at which you can find all of HBO work from last week: Twelve blog posts, a prefight feature, and a postfight recap. I know what you’re thinking right now: How many of the 26 letters of the alphabet can Raskin use to plug himself?

J is for Jalen Rose

We now graduate from gratuitous plugging to shameless name dropping. I had the pleasure of briefly chatting with my fellow Grantland Network podcaster Rose, who generally knows his stuff about boxing and is as affable and approachable as they come. Also, I’m no college basketball expert, but I think there might have been a minor factual inaccuracy in Buffer referring to him at Friday’s weigh-in as “UNLV and NBA star Jalen Rose.” At least we didn’t have to hear which ebony material Rose is made out of. (Meanwhile, Rose wasn’t the only “J.R.” I had the pleasure of meeting, as I also spent a little time with TheSweetScience.com’s own Joe Rein. Another true gentleman, and another person who I’m pretty sure didn’t play hoops at UNLV.)

K is for Kenny Bayless

I’ve been a mark for Bayless for over a decade, generally calling him the best referee in the business, and on Saturday night I met him in person for the first time. I don’t have much to report about the experience, really. I just couldn’t come up with anything better for the letter “K.” But while I’m on the subject of referees, both Jay Nady (excellent stoppage in the Alvarado-Prescott fight) and Vic Drakulich (good point deduction in the Bradley-Casamayor fight) did a superb job on Saturday. In related news, Nicolas Cage’s next action movie will be outstanding, Andy Reid is about to master clock management, and the next issue of The Ring won’t contain a single typo.

L is for Laurente

The star of the off-TV undercard (which, admittedly, didn’t really have anyone else resembling a star) was 34-year-old Filipino welterweight Dennis Laurente, who seemed to be headed nowhere five years ago but has now won 17 straight, including an entertaining seventh-round knockout of Ayi Bruce on Saturday. The best moment came when Laurente finally knocked Bruce down, and instead of watching the ref count over Bruce, he turned his back on the two of them and blew kisses to the crowd. Then he did a rather graceless but nonetheless enjoyable leaping 360 twirl as the count of 10 was reached. I wouldn’t mind seeing Laurente on U.S. television at some point in the near future.

M is for Mexicans on Twitter

At the postfight press conference, when Bob Arum was asked to respond to the fact that most people on Twitter were complaining that Marquez got robbed, Arum somehow came up with the explanation that everyone on Twitter is Mexican. Seriously. Sometimes I wonder how someone so smart can be so, you know, not smart.

Check back tomorrow for Part II, where I’ll tackle the back half of the alphabet, plug some more stuff, and let you know whether everyone who uses 4Square is Peruvian.

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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In a Massive Upset, Dakota Linger TKOs Kurt Scoby on a Friday Night in Atlanta

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Although it was an 8-rounder on a show with two “tens,” Kurt Scoby’s match with Dakota Linger was accorded main event status on tonight’s card at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta. This had everything to do with Scoby (pronounced Scooby), a former record-setting college running back who was considered one of the brightest prospects in the 140-pound weight class. “[Scoby] works harder than almost anyone I’ve ever seen,” said veteran New York promoter Lou DIBella in a conversation with Keith Idec. “But he’s literally getting better after every fight and he’s got the hammer of Thor, man. He can punch through walls.”

The Duarte, California product who has relocated to Brooklyn and trains at Gleason’s Gym, was undefeated (13-0) heading in and was expected to make Linger his ninth straight knockout victim. But Linger, a 29-year-old Buckhannon, West Virginia policemen whose first ring engagements were in Toughman competitions, wasn’t intimidated by Scoby’s press clippings or by Scoby’s bodybuilder physique.

Linger, who improved to 14-6-3 with his tenth win inside the distance, took the fight right to Scoby and repeatedly found a home for his overhand right. In the sixth round, after Linger strafed the ever-retreating Scoby with a barrage of punches, referee Malik Walid determined that he had seen enough and waived it off. The decision seemed a tad premature, but neither Scoby nor his cornermen offered anything in the way of a protest.

Tournament results

In the first installment of an 8-man super welterweight tournament, Brandon Adams returned to boxing after his second three-year layoff and showed no ring rust whatsoever. Adams, a 34-year-old family-man who grew up in the Watts district of LA, dismissed Ismael Villareal with a wicked punch to the liver in the waning seconds of round three. The official time was 2:59.

A former wold title challenger, Adams who improved to 23-3 (16 KOs), has become the king of boxing tournaments. He first attracted notice in 2018 when he won the fifth edition of “The Contender” series, scoring a wide 10-round decision over Shane Mosley Jr in the championship round.

Villareal, a second-generation prizefighter from the Bronx whose dad fought the likes of Hector Camacho, declined to 13-3.

Adams next opponent will be Francisco Veron who will bring a record of 14-0-1 (10).

In an energetic 10-rounder, Veron, a Florida-based Argentine with a strong amateur pedigree, scored a unanimous decision over Mexico-born, LA southpaw Angel Ruiz (18-3-1). The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 96-94.

Ruiz certainly had his moments, but Veron launched and landed many more punches despite fighting the last six rounds with a damaged eye.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 281: The Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia Show

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Over the years bouts between old foes such as Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia tend to be surprising.

Yes, both are only 25 but have known each other for many years.

When undisputed super lightweight champion Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) steps into the prize ring at Barclays Center to meet challenger Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) on Saturday, April 20, fans will be witnessing the continuation of a feud that began more than a decade ago.

And though the champion is a heavy favorite, familiarity is Garcia’s best weapon heading into their fight on the Golden Boy Promotions card that will be shown on PPV.COM with Jim Lampley and friends. DAZN pay-per-view is also streaming the card.

In many ways Haney and Garcia have ventured down the same path. From amateur sensations to fighting in Mexico while teens to asking for the biggest challenges available.

“Whichever version of Ryan shows up on April 20, I will be ready for him. Ryan Garcia is just another opponent to me,” said Haney who holds the WBC super lightweight title after his win over Regis Prograis.

The first time I saw Haney as a pro he battled the dangerous Mexican contender Juan Carlos Burgos at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula. It was an impressive performance against a fighter who fought three times for a world title.

Haney was 19 at the time.

My first look at Garcia as a pro was in his first bout in the U.S. when he met Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Cruz at the Exchange in downtown Los Angeles. The Boricua looked at Garcia and tried intimidating him with stares, taunts and the usual patter. During the fight both swung and missed until the second round when Garcia zeroed in and took him out.

Garcia had just turned 18, the legal age to fight in California.

Both fighters did not have the Olympics credentials that lead to fame. But their talent has allowed them to fight through the dense smoke that is professional boxing.

Haney has defeated numerous world champions such as Prograis, Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos Jr., while Garcia has stopped champions Javier Fortuna and Luke Campbell.

As amateurs, Garcia and Haney battled six times with each winning three.

“They know each other very well,” said Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions. “Ryan is going to beat Devin Haney.”

Haney has a buttery-smooth style with one of the best jabs in boxing. He’s very adept at keeping distance and not allowing anyone to fight him inside. His reflexes are outstanding, yet he seldom fights inside. That’s his weakness.

Garcia fights tall and has superb hand speed and a lightning quick left hook. Though his defense lacks tightness his ability to rip off three-punch combinations in a blink of an eye pauses opponents from bullying their way inside.

“These guys always just look at me and look at me like I don’t know how to box,” said Garcia on social media. “Why was I one of the best fighters in the amateurs. Why was I a 15-time National champion…why did I beat everyone I came across.”

Haney is a strong favorite by oddsmakers to defeat Garcia. But you can never tell when it comes to fighters that know each other well and are athletically gifted.

When Sergio Mora challenged Vernon Forrest he was a big underdog. When Tim Bradley fought Manny Pacquiao the first time, he was also the underdog. And when Andy Ruiz met Anthony Joshua few gave him a chance.

Haney and Garcia have history in the ring. It should be an interesting battle.

PPV.COM

Jim Lampley will be leading the broadcast on PPV.COM for the Haney-Garcia card at Barclays and texting with fans on the card live. He will be accompanied by journalists Lance Pugmire, Dan Conobbio and former champion Chris Algieri.

The PPV.COM broadcast begins at 5 p.m. PT. and is available in Canada and the USA.

Other News

MMA stars Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal will be holding a media day event on Friday, April 19, at NOVO at L.A. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Diaz and Masvidal will be boxing against each other in a grudge match on June 1 at the KIA Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The two MMA stars met five years at UFC 244 with Masvidal winning by TKO over Diaz due to cuts.

This is a grudge match, but under boxing rules.

Fight card in Commerce, Calif.

360 Promotions returns to Commerce Casino on Saturday April 20 with undefeated super lightweight Cain Sandoval leading the charge.

Sandoval (12-0) faces Angel Rebollar (8-3) in the main event that will be shown live on UFC Fight Pass. Also on the card are two female events including hot prospect Lupe Medina (5-0) versus Sabrina Persona (3-1) in a minimumweight clash.

Doors open at 4 p.m.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Heavyweight Merry-Go-Round

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Heavyweight Merry-Go-Round

There were few surprises when co-promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren and their benefactor HE Turki Alalshikh held a press conference in London this past Monday to unveil the undercard for the Beterbiev-Bivol show at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 1. Most of the match-ups had already been leaked.

For die-hard boxing fans, Beterbiev-Bivol is such an enticing fight that it really doesn’t need an attractive undercard. Two undefeated light heavyweights will meet with all four relevant belts on the line in a contest where the oddsmakers straddled the fence. It’s a genuine “pick-‘em” fight based on the only barometer that matters, the prevailing odds.

But Beterbiev-Bivol has been noosed to a splendid undercard, a striking contrast to Saturday’s Haney-Garcia $69.99 (U.S.) pay-per-view in Brooklyn, an event where the undercard, in the words of pseudonymous boxing writer Chris Williams, is an absolute dumpster fire.

The two heavyweight fights that will bleed into Beterbiev-Bivol, Hrgovic vs. Dubois and Wilder vs. Zhang, would have been stand-alone main events before the incursion of Saudi money.

Hrgovic-Dubois

Filip Hrgovic (17-0, 13 KOs) and Daniel Dubois (20-2, 19 KOs) fought on the same card in Riyadh this past December. Hrgovic, the Croatian, was fed a softie in the form of Australia’s Mark De Mori who he dismissed in the opening round. Dubois, a Londoner, rebounded from his loss to Oleksandr Usyk with a 10th-round stoppage of corpulent Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.

There’s an outside chance that Hrgovic vs. Dubois may be sanctioned by the IBF for the world heavyweight title.

The May 18 showdown between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury has a rematch clause. The IBF is next in line in the rotation system for a unified heavyweight champion and the organization has made it plain that the winner of Usyk-Fury must fulfill his IBF mandatory before an intervening bout.

The best guess is that the Usyk-Fury winner will relinquish the IBF belt. If so, Hrgovic and Dubois may fight for the vacant title although a more likely scenario is that the organization will keep the title vacant so that the winner can fight Anthony Joshua.

Wilder-Zhang

The match between Deontay Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) and Zhilei Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) is a true crossroads fight as both Wilder, 38, and Zhang, who turns 41 in May, are nearing the end of the road and the loser (unless it’s a close and entertaining fight) will be relegated to the rank of a has-been. In fact, Wilder has hinted that this may be his final rodeo.

Both are coming off a loss to Joseph Parker.

Wilder last fought on the card that included Hrgovic and Dubois and was roundly out-pointed by a man he was expected to beat. It’s a quick turnaround for Zhang who opposed Parker on March 8 and lost a majority decision.

Other Fights

Either of two other fights may steal the show on the June 1 event.

Raymond Ford (15-0-1, 8 KOs) meets Nick Ball (19-0-1, 11 KOs) in a 12-round featherweight contest. New Jersey’s Ford will be defending the WBA world title he won with a come-from-behind, 12th-round stoppage of Otabek Kholmatov in an early contender for Fight of the Year. Liverpool’s “Wrecking” Ball, a relentless five-foot-two sparkplug, had to settle for a draw in his title fight with Rey Vargas despite winning the late rounds and scoring two knockdowns.

Hamzah Sheeraz (19-0, 15 KOs) meets fellow unbeaten Austin “Ammo” Williams (16-0, 11 KOs) in a 12-round middleweight match. East London’s Sheeraz, the son of a former professional cricket player, is unknown in the U.S. although he trained for his recent fights at the Ten Goose Boxing Gym in California. Riding a skein of 13 straight knockouts, he has a date with WBO title-holder Janibek Alimkhanuly if he can get over this hurdle.

The Forgotten Heavyweight

“Unbeaten for seven years, the man nobody wants to fight,” intoned ring announcer Michael Buffer by way of introduction. Buffer was referencing Michael Hunter who stood across the ring from his opponent Artem Suslenkov.

This scene played out this past Saturday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It was Hunter’s second fight in three weeks. On March 23, he scored a fifth-round stoppage of a 46-year-old meatball at a show in Zapopan, Mexico.

The second-generation “Bounty Hunter,” whose only defeat prior to last weekend came in a 12-rounder with Oleksandr Usyk, has been spinning his wheels since TKOing the otherwise undefeated Martin Bakole on the road in London in 2018. Two fights against hapless opponents on low-budget cards in Mexico and a couple of one-round bouts for the Las Vegas Hustle, an entry in the fledgling and largely invisible Professional Combat League, are the sum total of his activity, aside from sparring, in the last two-and-a-half years.

Hunter’s chances of getting another big-money fight took a tumble in Tashkent where he lost a unanimous decision in a dull affair to the unexceptional Suslenkov who was appearing in his first 10-round fight. The scores of the judges were not announced.

You won’t find this fight listed on boxrec. As Jake Donovan notes, the popular website will not recognize a fight conducted under the auspices of a rogue commission. (Another fight you won’t find on boxrec for the same reason is Nico Ali Walsh’s 6-round split decision over the 9-2-1 Frenchman, Noel Lafargue, in the African nation of Guinea on Dec. 16, 2023. You can find it on YouTube, but according to boxrec, boxing’s official record-keeper, it never happened.)

Anderson-Merhy Redux

The only thing missing from this past Saturday’s match in Corpus Christi, Texas, between Jared Anderson and Ryad Merhy was the ghost of Robert Valsberg.

Valsberg, aka Roger Vaisburg, was the French referee who disqualified Ingemar Johansson for not trying in his match with LA’s Ed Sanders in the finals of the heavyweight competition at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Valsberg tossed Johansson out of the ring after two rounds and Johansson was denied the silver medal. The Swede redeemed himself after turning pro, needless to say, when he demolished Floyd Patterson in the first of their three meetings.

Merhy was credited with throwing only 144 punches, landing 34, over the course of the 10 rounds. Those dismal figures yet struck many onlookers as too high. (This reporter has always insisted that the widely-quoted CompuBox numbers should be considered approximations.)

Whatever the true number, it was a disgraceful performance by Merhy who actually showed himself to have very fast hands on the few occasions when he did throw a punch. With apologies to Delfine Persoon, a spunky lightweight, U.S. boxing promoters should think twice before inviting another Belgian boxer to our shores.

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