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Mayweather And Pacquiao Should Try Emulating Leonard And Duran..LOTIERZO

Frank Lotierzo

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PacquiaoMosley Hogan 13Fans of Floyd and Manny have been fed gimmick and catchweight fights, and fights such as this one, against faded stars recently. Pacquiao and Mayweather should feel shame, and act like Leonard and Duran back in the day, Lotierzo says. (Hogan)

Have you been following professional boxing closely for the last two or three years? If you have, you've no doubt heard about how great the two best pound for pound fighters/boxers on the planet (Floyd Mayweather, 34 and Manny Pacquiao, 33) are. So great that some have wrongly suggested that they're among the elite great fighters in history, even going as far as to suggest that Mayweather is Sugar Ray Leonard's equal or better and Pacquiao is Roberto Duran's equal or better. Are you kidding me? Mayweather and Pacquiao would have to pay admission just to watch Ray and Roberto watch a fight.

Forget about the waste of time it would encompass debating the merits of Leonard and Duran opposed to those of Mayweather and Pacquiao. If you're of the school that believes Floyd and Manny are equal or superior to Ray and Roberto, you don't know what you've been watching. Instead, let’s talk about what stands out most between the pair. How about Leonard, age 24, and Duran, age 29, fought each other twice in two huge PPV title bouts over a  span of  five months back in 1980? And ironically both fights were contested at welterweight – the same division in which Mayweather and Pacquiao are at the top of the food chain.

It now seems as if Mayweather-Pacquiao gets further away from being realized with each passing day, month and year. And even at its best it was never the Superfight that Leonard-Duran was. And you can bet your house that if they ever fight it'll never be the action packed war that Ray and Roberto delivered back in the summer of 1980.

Remember how tough it was to get Leonard and Duran into the ring in 1980? No? That's because it wasn't. It went something like this. Duran relinquished his undisputed lightweight title in early 1979 and after beating a couple journeymen he defeated former WBC welterweight champ Carlos Palomino (who lost the title to Wilfred Benitez in January of 1979) on June 22, 1979 to become the WBC's second ranked contender. Five months later, Leonard, the number one ranked contender, beat Benitez to capture the WBC title and the countdown to Leonard-Duran began. Seven months later after Leonard (27-0) made one defense of the title against Dave “Boy” Green, he defended it against Duran 71-1 on June 20, 1980 in what's become known as “The Brawl In Montreal.”

Yes, Duran bitched and moaned over Leonard getting paid four times more than Duran was guaranteed in the leadup to the fight, but it didn't stop him from going through with it. Actually, what the disparity in purse did was make the fight that much tougher on Leonard. Because other than “Smokin” Joe Frazier going after Muhammad Ali during “The Fight Of The Century,” Duran is about the closest I've seen to Frazier when it comes to watching a fighter who refused to be denied the way he went after Leonard during their first fight. Duran was so insulted that Leonard garnered all the hype and attention before the fight that he tortured himself, like Frazier did, in preparing for it. And as it was the case with Frazier, it paid off for Duran too. Like Joe, Roberto conclusively beat the biggest star in the sport at the time when they were both undefeated in what turned out to be the first fight of an historic trilogy.

After losing to Duran, Leonard, like Ali, couldn't rest until he reclaimed what both believed was their birthright, the world boxing championship. When it came time for a rematch, Duran had one request. All he wanted was to make one million dollars more than Leonard and he'd grant him an immediate rematch. Leonard, who was a real fighter like Duran, consented to Duran's wish and they fought for the second time on November 25, 1980. Leonard won the rematch and the rest is history.

Boxing was enhanced tremendously due to Leonard and Duran setting the stage of what turned out to be a decade of Superfights realized in every division from bantamweight to heavyweight. It seemed as if the Leonard-Duran series in 1980 set the stage for the rest of the decade and every top fighter in every division eventually crossed paths before one of them outgrew the division or started to decline. Today the 80s are referred to as the “good old days” for good reason, they were.

Which brings us back to Mayweather and Pacquiao. A potential clash between them has been marinating since Mayweather took apart Juan Manuel Marquez back in September of 2009 and it's no closer to happening now as it was then. All we've seen since boxing fans have been wondering about how a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao would turn out is both sign on for gimmick and catch-weight bouts where they were overwhelming favorites.

The fact that the fight hasn't taken place says something about both of them to a degree. No doubt Mayweather has to shoulder most of the blame for the fight not happening, but Pacquiao can't blame Floyd for why he's taken part in a few catch-weight bouts to aid him. And don't give me the line that he's the smaller fighter and was at risk. If the risk is so great, and we know that it's not, then stay in your own division.

Duran didn't insist that Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler or Iran Barkley drain down to meet him when they fought at junior middleweight and middleweight. Yes, Leonard fought a catch-weight against light heavyweight title holder Donny Lalonde, and maybe it all started with him. But he never took it to the level of Mayweather and Pacquiao.  

Just last week it was reported that both Pacquiao and Mayweather were talking about facing Miguel Cotto for his WBA junior middleweight title, with the difference being Pacquiao wants Cotto to come down to 147 and Mayweather wants to meet him at 150. How big of them! Why can't they fight him at the 154 pound limit? Pacquiao already beat him at 145 back in 2009.

The fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao are trying to stack the deck against an eroded Cotto in order to steal his title is something that joins them at the hip. One thing is for sure, Leonard and Duran would've cut each others’ throat in order to get to Cotto first, when it actually meant something to beat him. Now for the next month or so we'll be hearing the names of potential opponents for them to fight next. And on fightnight boxing fans who are thirsting for a big fight will flock to Mayweather and Pacquiao participate in another catch-weight bout or against an opponent who is either on the wrong side of the hill or isn't fully flowered yet. And then the drum-beating for them to finally confront each other will start all over again.

There's no denying that Mayweather and Pacquiao are great fighters and the biggest stars in boxing. That said, if they fought during the 70s and 80s, neither of them would be a superstar or top draw. They've both been the beneficiaries of being big fish in a small pond at a time when there's no other fighters/boxers around who have captivated the public's imagination circa 2010-12. And that's the biggest reason why we care so much about seeing them fight.

When all is said and done Mayweather needs to fight Pacquiao more than the opposite. Manny's legacy is pretty much set and he's already beaten greats while he fought at his more natural weight. Mayweather's legacy is much more hollow and shallow and he at least must face one great fighter at or near his prime before he retires. And that great fighter based on his last two bouts appears to be slightly on the decline.

It's amazing how a fighter who throws 20 punches a round, Mayweather, and a fighter who clearly lost his last fight, Pacquiao, can still be the biggest fight in boxing. What does that say about the current state of professional boxing in the year 2012?

Contact the writer at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Berchelt TKOs Valenzuela in Mexico City

David A. Avila

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Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt hammered his way to a decisive knockout victory over fellow Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela in a non-title light fight on Saturday.

After nearly nine months off, WBC super featherweight titlist Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) unraveled a withering body attack including numerous low blows but Valenzuela remained upright in front of a sparse TV studio audience until he could take it no longer.

Berchelt used a seven-punch combination to knock the senses out of the very tough Valenzuela who hails from Sinaloa. The referee saw enough and stopped the fight with Valenzuela leaning against the ropes with a dazed look.

The champion from Cancun used a triple left hook in the first round to floor Valenzuela and it looked like the fight would not last more than two rounds. But Valenzuela, a sturdy veteran, bored into Berchelt to keep him off balance and was able to stop the momentum.

It did not last.

A vicious attack to the body sapped the energy from Valenzuela who has fought many elite fighters in the past, but none like Berchelt. He was able to batter the veteran round after round.

Valenzuela sought to reverse the momentum with some combinations of his own. Berchelt opened up with some combinations from the outside and cracked his foe with some skull-numbing blows that clearly affected Valenzuela’s senses. The referee wisely stopped the fight at 1:03 of the sixth round to give the win to Berchelt by knockout.

The victory opens the door to a potential clash with featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez of Nogales, Mexico who has a fight of his own planned next month. Both champions are promoted by Top Rank.

Other Bouts       

Omar Aguilar (18-0, 17 KOs) bushwacked veteran Dante Jardon (32-7, 23 KOs) within a minute of the first round to win by technical knockout. A barrage of blows by Ensenada’s Aguilar opened up the fight and a four-punch combination forced the referee to stop the super lightweight fight with Mexico City’s Jardon against the ropes.

A battle between super bantamweights saw the taller Alan Picasso (14-1) out-hustle Florentino Perez (14-6-2) in an eight round clash between Mexican fighters. Mexico City’s Picasso fought effectively inside against the shorter Perez of Monterrey and was able to maintain a consistent pace. Neither fighter approved the use of a jab but Picasso was more effective inside with body shots and uppercuts and dominated the last half of the fight.  The six judges scored in favor of Picasso.

The WBC instituted the extra judges as a means of tabulating score cards efficiently. Three judges scored from the television studios and another three judges scored from the USA. It was the second time WBC judges officiated remotely and all six scorecards were official.

Photo credit: Zanfer Promotions

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Big Baby Miller, Roberto Duran and More

Arne K. Lang

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Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller just can’t keep his hands out of the cookie jar. It was announced today (Saturday, June 27) that the jumbo-sized heavyweight from Brooklyn tested positive for a banned substance, forcing him out of a July 9 fight at the MGM Grand “Bubble” against Jerry Forrest. The story was broken by Mike Coppinger of The Athletic who breaks more hard news stories than any other boxing writer.

Miller, needless to say is a repeat offender. He failed three different PED tests in a span of three days for three different banned substances leading into his planned June 2019 match at Madison Square Garden with WBA/IBF/WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. That cost him the fight and a reported $5 million-plus payday. Andy Ruiz filled the void and scored an historic upset.

When the first test came back positive, Miller wailed that he was the victim of a faulty test. “My team and I stand for integrity, decency and honesty and will fight this with everything we have,” he said in a prepared statement. He later changed his tune. “I messed up,” he said.

In a story that appeared on these pages, Thomas Hauser noted that Big Baby had a history of PED use dating to 2014. In that year, he was slapped with a nine-month suspension by the California Athletic Commission following a kickboxing event in Los Angeles.

Counting this latest revelation, it’s five strikes for Big Baby. He’s taking quite a roasting right now on social media. Some of the harshest criticism is coming from his fellow boxers.

Assuming that Top Rank can’t find a replacement for Miller, this is another tough break for Jerry Forrest, a 32-year-old southpaw from Virginia with a 26-3 (20) record. Forrest was scheduled to fight hot prospect Filip Hrgovic on April 17 on a card at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a show swept away by the coronavirus outbreak. Forrest has been matched very soft throughout his career, but he acquitted himself well in his lone previous TV appearance, losing a split decision to undefeated Jermaine Franklin on “Showtime: The New Generation.” The decision was controversial.

There’s talk now that Carlos Takam is angling to replace Big Baby. The French-Cameroonian, a former world title challenger who turns 40 in December, was billed out of Henderson, Nevada, in his last ring appearance that saw him winning a unanimous decision over fellow greybeard Fabio Maldonado in Huntington, NY.

—-

When it comes to Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong, will”), there’s no sport quite like boxing. Just ask Bob Arum. The most mouth-watering matchup in his ESPN “summer series” fell out this week when Eleider Alvarez suffered a shoulder injury in training, forcing a postponement of his July 16 date with Joe Smith Jr. The match between Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) and Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) would have been a 12-rounder with the winner guaranteed a shot at the vacant WBO light heavyweight title, a diadem that Alvarez previously owned.

Joe Smith Jr, a Long Island construction worker once dismissed as nothing more than a club fighter, won legions of new fans in his last start, a one-sided (to everyone except one myopic judge) win over Jesse Hart in Atlantic City.

Cancelled matches have become a recurrent theme in ESPN’s semi-weekly boxing series. The very first card in the series lost what shaped up as its most competitive fight when Mikaela Mayer tested positive for COVID-19, scuttling her bout with Helen Joseph. In subsequent weeks, the manager of Mikkel Les Pierre tested positive for COVID-19 as did WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring. Those bad test results forced the postponement of two main events. Then earlier this week, hot lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno was lopped off Tuesday’s card after feeling sick after coming in overweight at the previous day’s weigh-in.

The undercards of the Tuesday/Thursday ESPN fights have left something to be desired, but that’s understandable. As Bob Arum noted in a conversation with veteran boxing scribe Keith Idec, Top Rank’s matchmakers Bruce Trampler and Brad “Abdul” Goodman have had a hard time fleshing out the cards because with so many gyms closed there’s a shortage of boxers who are in shape to fight on short notice. Then there are the COVID-19 travel restrictions and (something Arum did not acknowledge) budgetary restrictions more severe than an ordinary Top Rank card. Most of the undercard fighters have come from neighboring states such as Utah, saving Top Rank the cost of air fare. Fighters from faraway places, with some exceptions, were already training in Las Vegas.

Kudos to the entire Top Rank staff for keeping boxing alive during these challenging times.

It’s old news now, but Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Duran, 69, tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized in Panama City with a viral infection. There’s been no update on his condition but his son Robin Duran wrote on Instagram that his father is not having any symptoms beyond those associated with a common cold. We will update you when new details become available.

Duran’s hospitalization came just a few days after the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard in what would say was Duran’s finest hour. They met on June 20, 1980 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Duran won a unanimous decision. Converting the “10-point must” system into rounds, Duran prevailed by scores of 3-2-10, 6-5-4, and 6-4-5. As Yogi would have said, you could look it up.

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Fast Results from the Bubble: Jason Moloney TKOs Baez

Arne K. Lang

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Top Rank was back inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” tonight for chapter six of their semi-weekly ESPN summer series. Jason Moloney, one-half of Australia’s Moloney twins, accomplished what his brother Andrew Moloney was unable to accomplish in this ring on Tuesday night, adding a “W” to his ledger and looking good doing it. It came at the expense of Mexicali’s Leonardo Baez.

It was Jason Moloney’s second start on U.S. soil after coming up just a tad short in a bid for the vacant IBF world bantamweight title at Orlando in October of 2018. Against Baez, he fought a smart tactical fight, blunting the Mexican’s superior reach by fighting him at close quarters. Baez fought from the third round on with a cut over his right eye and then suffered a cut over his left eye in the seventh round. By then the fight was becoming increasingly one-sided and Baez’s corner did not let him come out for round eight.

Jason Moloney improved to 21-1 with his 18th knockout. Leonardo Baez, who took the fight on short notice after Maloney’s original opponent Oscar Negrete was forced to withdraw with a detached retina, slumped to 18-3.

Co-Feature

In the 10-round co-feature, Abraham Nova advanced to 19-0 with a unanimous decision over Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow but won no new fans with a lackadaisical performance. Nova, born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic and raised in Albany, NY, showed little but his jab through the first seven rounds until hurting Sparrow with a big right hand in the eighth. The judges had it 96-94, 97-93, and 99-91.

Sparrow (10-2), whose lone previous loss was by disqualification, was making his first start in 15 months. He was slated to fight Ryan Garcia in Los Angeles last Sept. 14 but never made it to the weigh-in after being arrested by U.S. marshals on a charge of threatening a woman with a gun after she threw his clothes out the window…

Other Bouts

In an 8-round featherweight contest, Puerto Rican southpaw Orlando Gonzalez advanced to 15-0 with a unanimous decision over Ecuador’s Luis Porozo (15-3). The scores were 76-74 and 77-73 twice.

Gonzalez wasn’t particularly impressive although he did score two knockdowns. He decked Porozo near the end of round two with a left hook following a straight left and decked him again near the end of round seven with a left uppercut to the body.

In a rather ho-hum fight, welterweight Vlad Panin improved to 8-1 with 6-round majority decision over San Antonio’s 36-year-old Benjamin Whitaker (13-4). Panin, a Belarusian who grew up in Las Vegas and earned a BA in English from UCLA, has a good back story but seemingly a limited upside in the fight game.

In an entertaining 6-round welterweight clash, Filipino campaigner Reymond Yanon improved to 11-5-1 with a split decision (59-55, 58-56, 56-58) over Clay Burns. A 33-year-old ex-Marine from Fort Worth, Burns declined to 9-8-2.

The opener, a heavyweight bout slated for six rounds, matched two Phoenix-based fighters in a rematch. Kingsley Ibeh, a former standout defensive lineman for the Washburn College Ichabods, avenged his lone defeat and improved to 4-1 with a fourth-round stoppage of Waldo Cortes (5-3). Ibeh, who at 286 had a 39-pound weight advantage, softened Cortes up with a series of uppercuts and Cortes was on his way down when he was tagged with a glancing left hand. He got to his feet, but referee Vic Drakulich waived it off. The official time was 1:41.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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