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THE BREAKDOWN: Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto

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 Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto1-4-2012Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto on Saturday, May 5 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas; on HBO PPV; 12 rounds for Cotto's WBA junior middleweight title

At a glance, the fight looks intriguing. Miguel Cotto (37-2 with 30 KOs) has only experienced defeat twice before -both of which, you could say,have question marks against them. He is currently on a three fight winning streak,looking increasingly galvanised in each of them,and his skills seem alot more refined under the tutelage of Pedro Diaz and Emanuel Steward before him. Once a stalking body seeking puncher, Cotto has now integrated more movement and a well rounded attack into his arsenal.At 31 years-old, Cotto will not only be the younger man, but having campaigned at 154 pounds since 2010, he will also be the naturally heavier man as well. His opponent, moving up from 147 pounds, is 35 years-old. It would be easy to suggest then, that Cotto is back to his best. Back in 2007, Cotto was once as high as number two pound for pound on a lot of people's lists, and many thought he had the ability to beat the fighter that was seeded above him – the very man that Miguel Cotto will be sharing a ring with on Saturday night. Unfortunately for him, the 7-1 odds in his opponent's favour are a perfect representation of the most revealing factor of the fight–his opponent is like no other opponent Miguel Cotto has faced before.

Simply put, Floyd Mayweather, 42-0 {like you didn't know already}is operating on an entirely different stratosphere to almost every other fighter on the planet. When it comes to his application to the sweet science,he is without doubt the most cerebral practitioner in the modern fight game – his ability to dissect an opponent's style and construct a way to negate anything his opponent does leads to his opponents being faced with the almost impossible task of conjuring up a way to solve the Mayweather riddle themselves. Mayweather's boxing acumen leads me to believe that he has selected Miguel Cotto for a particular reason. Despite Mayweather's sterling job of promoting the fight, most notably, his claims that Cotto is undefeated as a result of Margarito's alleged loaded hand wraps and Manny Pacquiao's weight draining bargaining exploits,I honestly believe that this is a fight that Mayweather will be able to dominate from start to finish.

Not too long ago, I wrote a tongue in cheek article entitled “No Lie, Cotto Has No Chance vs Mayweather.” While the purpose of it was to entertain, there was, I felt, some home truths in it. Barring a catastrophic physical decline from Mayweather, I genuinely believe that Miguel Cotto has little or no chance on Saturday night.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a shot at Miguel Cotto – there's a lot to like about him. I acknowledge that Cotto bounced back from his heavy beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao about as well as anyone could have. Cotto also looked brilliant at times, outboxing Yuri Foreman, dominating Ricardo Mayorga and in avenging his loss against his arch nemesis, Antonio Margarito. Cotto's left hook, to the head and in particular, to the body, may be one of the best single shots in all of boxing. Cotto also has underrated boxing skills, which he displayed well at times against Shane Mosley and in stopping Margarito last time out.I consider Cotto to be a very good fighter, who would be competitive with just about any other fighter in or around his weight class….who isn't named Floyd Mayweather. A quick look at the one dimensional nature of Cotto's last three opponents suggests to me that he could be in for a rude awakening against an opponent who possesses a kaleidoscope of boxing variances.

Having watched the Mayweather-Cotto 24/7, Miguel Cotto's trainer, Pedro Diaz, made a very bold statement that stuck with me. He claimed that he did not believe in improvisation. In other words,Diaz is a believer that he has a strategical gameplan, one that Miguel Cotto will bring with him to the ring on Saturday, hoping that it will reveal the offensive code which will allow him to crack open Mayweather's defensive safe. Admittedly, I too am a firm believer that tactics are the key to problem solving in boxing. Some of the most surprising upsets in boxing history have been won well before the fight, through an analytical approach by the fighter and their trainer – Max Schmeling's knockout of Joe Louis because of a defensive lapse after his jab, Ken Norton's jab parrying win over Muhammad Ali and Bernard Hopkins' left hook disappearing act clinic against Felix Trinidad, to name a few. But against the most layered fighter on the planet? If Diaz does not believe in improvisation, then he must not be fully aware of what he and Cotto will be faced with this Saturday.

To use a Bruce Lee quote -“It is difficult to have a rehearsed routine to fit in with broken rhythm. Rehearsed routines lack the flexibility to adapt.” I consider Mayweather to be – alongside Andre Ward – the most adaptive fighter in boxing. For every Cotto action, there will be a Mayweather reaction. In other words, if Miguel Cotto does indeed have a strategy that is causing Mayweather early concern, I would fully expect Mayweather to have it figured out not long after. Then what?Cotto would have to then be able to readjust to Mayweather's adjustment. That's why Mayweather has the upper hand over nearly every fighter he faces. There are times, however, when an opponent's A game can be sufficient. Prime example being, I still believe Paul Williams' length, southpaw stance, jab and volume would give Floyd plenty to think about as would Pacquiao's unpredictable attacks coming from unconventional angles. However,that's not to say Mayweather wouldn't be able to do the same to them as he has to 42 others who have tried. My point is, these fighters would be doing what is customary to them against Mayweather. I have a feeling we will see a different Cotto on Saturday, at least for awhile.

If we go back to 2007, when the demand for a Mayweather-Cotto fight was at its highest, perception then was that this would be a case of the classic boxer vs the pressure fighter. At the time, Mayweather was primarily a defensive specialist, whose elusiveness on the back foot pretty much eliminated any danger….avoiding risks equated to avoiding defeat. Miguel Cotto on the other hand, was almost exclusively a stalking,pressure puncher -seldom did he take a backward step. Back then, both fighters were unbeaten. Had they have fought at that time, I would have gone with Mayweather by decision. I think Mayweather's slipperiness, and faster hands would have kept the fight from becoming just that, a fight. Because Cotto would have been the fighter pressing the attack, he would have likely received the benefit of the doubt in the rounds that Mayweather was not as dominant in, as well as occasions when Mayweather's back would have been against the ropes, where Cotto would no doubt have been right there throwing his left hook the the body. The likely scenario here would have been that Mayweather's defensive fortress would have resulted in Cotto landing on nothing but gloves, forearms, elbows and shoulders – such is the nature of Mayweather's shoulder posture which protects his tucked in chin. As a result, the fight would have probably been closer than it really was, at least on the scorecards. Judges would have favoured Cotto's aggression as opposed to Mayweather's smoke and mirrors.

Time changes everything.

On Saturday night, I'm fully anticipating a role reversal.I expect Cotto – the former pressure fighter – to be the fighter moving,and Mayweather – the former mover -to be the pressure fighter. Like I mentioned earlier, Mayweather is a such an astute student of the game that he knows now is the right time to fight Miguel Cotto. You see, Mayweather is a master of psychology. He is an illusionist inside the ring and out. On numerous occasions during the promotional work, we have seen Mayweather constantly bring up the first Margarito fight and the Manny Pacquiao fight – claiming that Cotto is really undefeated. Like a great magician, he has taken our attention away from what is most important and what is real.

Out of sight, out of mind.

By focusing on Cotto's defeats to Margarito and Pacquiao, Mayweather has took the attention away from two other revealing Miguel Cotto outings -the Shane Mosley and Joshua Clottey fights. I have no doubt that events that occurred in these bouts influenced Mayweather's decision in choosing Miguel Cotto as his next opponent. There are many who believe that Cotto lost to both Mosley and Clottey; Mosley landed 53% of his power shots against Cotto, while Clottey's punch stat numbers dwarfed Cotto's – Clottey was 222/622 with a 35% connect rate, while Cotto was 179/723 with a 25% connect rate. Of course, as everyone is aware, the punch stat numbers do not tell the whole story of a fight, but they do in this case illustrate that Cotto was involved in two highly disputed contests against fighters who are, quite frankly, not in Mayweather's class. Against both fighters, Cotto was hit over and over by right hands. There are two reasons for this:

The first reason, Cotto is a converted southpaw, his left hand, which is his dominant hand, is his lead hand. Because he is looking to throw it more often than his right hand, it is always in a semi offensive position, away from his chin, thus making it easier to land a right hand.

The second reason, when Cotto throws his left hook, he does so with his shoulders squared up to his opponent, as a result of it traveling from his lead hand. Now while Cotto has to wing that shot around to generate leverage, he is wide open for a straight right hand down the middle. Sometimes, victory or defeat can come down to the simplest of things. Also evident in these fights, especially the Shane Mosley fight, was Cotto's inability to fight effectively whilst backing up. Up until the ninth round against Shane Mosley, Cotto had been applying pressure, and forcing Mosley to back up. Once Mosley knew he could withstand Cotto's fire, Mosley proceeded to press his own attack. The result? Miguel Cotto unable to synchronize his legs and his hands – the essence of being a boxer/puncher. This has now been apparent against Mosley, Margarito, Clottey, Pacquiao and will also be apparent against Mayweather.

Don't waste motion. Keep it simple.

Since his hiatus, which ended when Mayweather returned to fight Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009, Floyd has adopted a far more efficient way of fighting. Once a fleet footed mover who threw almost every punch in the book, Floyd now spends most of his time standing in the pocket, limiting his offensive attack to nothing but a jab and a right hand lead – almost like when we discovered there was no need to fly around our living rooms in order to be successful at Wii tennis, the same results can be achieved whilst sitting comfortably in our chair {a strange analogy, but hopefully you see my point!}.Mayweather is such a sensational defensive artist that we sometimes take for granted just how good he is on offense. The counterpunching Mayweather of the past has been replaced by a far more deliberate version.I now view Mayweather as more of an offensive interceptor, rather than just a defensive counterpuncher. In the past, you would often see Mayweather invite his opponent's offense onto him, where he would allow them to complete their offensive technique and perform a slip, duck, parry or a shoulder roll before launching a counter. These days whilst moving forward, Mayweather's punch anticipation, along with his acute sense of timing, allows him to intercept his opponent's attack, just as they are about to throw – he doesn't allow his opponent to complete their offensive technique. The Mayweather of the Diego Corrales fight may have been more aesthetically pleasing, but the current version of Mayweather – more Monzon than Pep -maybe even tougher to beat, especially for Miguel Cotto.

I would like nothing more on Saturday night than to bear witness to a close, competitive fight. Unfortunately, I just can't see it going that way. I think Mayweather's current fighting style is a conflict for Miguel Cotto if ever there was one. Cotto's best chance of winning the fight is to land his left hook. It's a punch that must resurface for him on Saturday night. However, landing that will prove easier said than done as Mayweather's defense is almost designed to nullify circular, lead hand power punches – Mayweather has his right elbow protecting his body while his right glove and left shoulder are guarding his face.

Once Mayweather has figured out the way Cotto is moving and reacting to his own movement, I think we may see the most aggressive Mayweather performance since the Gatti fight. Many will disagree and point to the advantages in size and punching power that Cotto will have over Mayweather, which will make him reluctant to press the attack. Don't be fooled, Mayweather may not be as heavy as Cotto, but he may actually be the bigger and stronger of the two – Mayweather is taller and has a longer reach than Cotto and I would also encourage everyone to take a look at Mayweather's body against Oscar De La Hoya at junior middleweight, and against Marquez, at around the welterweight limit. Notice how much bigger Floyd looks against Marquez, as opposed to the way he looked against Oscar. Despite weighing less, Mayweather's upper body – his shoulders and chest -appear to have developed as Mayweather now looks more physically imposing since his return.

Prediction:

There are not going to be many opportunities to land anything worthwhile in a fight with Floyd Mayweather. I've always felt that if Mayweather ever happens to taste defeat, it will be down to speed, unpredictability and educated footwork. First, Mayweather needs to be kept in his defensive shell – even tougher now, as he is a lot more offensive minded – second, you have to use feints, to create openings, and third, you have to have the footwork to be able to move in and out and around his defensive construct. When I look at Miguel Cotto, I see a mechanical fighter,who does not possess the kind of hand and footspeed co-ordination that would be needed to outfox Mayweather.

I think Pedro Diaz will instruct Cotto, to the surprise of many, to come out moving and try and box with Mayweather – which will be a mistake. Cotto has all the tools, but he struggles to put everything together. He can box, he can move, but he can't box and move, which he would have to combine against Floyd. After his customary slow start, Mayweather will begin pressing the attack, throwing jabs and his straight right hands from behind his patented guard. Cotto, who fights well when under control, can not fight backing up. Mayweather will no doubt know this already, and will set about making sure that Cotto is always on his back foot.

The saying goes, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. At some stage in the fight, I expect Cotto to resort back to his former self and try and get the better of Floyd in close, where he will find nothing but a far more refined fighter at close quarters. By the middle to late rounds, Mayweather will be pushing hard for the stoppage – the 8oz glove request is not to be underestimated, Mayweather would love nothing more than to top Pacquiao's effort over Cotto. With Cotto's face showing signs of the most effective punch in boxing, Mayweather's right hand, the corner and official will be keeping a close eye. Mayweather has promised something spectacular throughout the build up to the fight, and for once, I believe him.

Mayweather will put on his most aggressive display in years, in topping Pacquiao's 12th round stoppage over Cotto, with a knockout victory of his own by around the 10th round.

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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

When it comes to professional boxing down in the Tampa Bay area, Canadian transplant Garry Jonas is a one-man band.

The architect of the Wednesday Night Fights series, Jonas doesn’t have to pay a site fee for the shows that he promotes because he owns the venue. The shows that he stages at his Whitesands Events Center in Plant City air on his live streaming platform ProBoxTV. His series currently has only one sponsor, a bookmaking operation called SportsBetting.Ag., and he owns that too. (A self-styled serial entrepreneur, Jonas continued his assault on the established order last week with his purchase of the respected Boxing Scene website, but that’s a story best saved for another day.)

Jonas promotes high-grade club fights. When he started this venture, he promised entertaining, well-matched fights and tonight he delivered. The “A” side fighters in the co-main events were matched tough.

In the featured bout, lightweight Justin Pauldo (17-2, 1 NC) was upset by Mexico’s Miguel Madueno. Managed by Jolene Mazzone, the former VP and matchmaker for Main Events and trained by Ronnie Shields, Pauldo, a resident or nearby Orlando, was unbeaten in his last 12 heading in.

In his previous start, Madueno turned in a lackluster performance against surging Canadian campaigner Steve Claggett. His showing (he was 30-1 with 28 KOs heading in) was inconsistent with his record. Tonight, he was more pugnacious, out-working the man in front of him, a 4/1 favorite. The decision was split; 97-92 and 95-94 for Madueno, 95-94 for Pauldo. There were no knockdowns, but the Mexican had a point deducted in round 5 for leading with his head.

Co-Feature

The co-main was an entertaining 10-round light heavyweight affair in which Edgar Berlanga stablemate Najee Lopez improved to 10-0 (8) with a hard-earned majority decision over Marcos Escudero (14-3). One of the judges had it a draw (95-95) but he was overruled by his cohorts who had it 97-93 and 99-91.

Lopez, who is of Puerto Rican descent but was born and raised in the Atlanta area, hadn’t previously gone beyond six rounds. He was the house fighter. Named the 2023 Prospect of the Year by the ProBox team of TV commentators, Lopez was making his eighth appearance at Whitesands. Escudero, a South Florida-based Argentine had won four straight heading in at club shows in Delray Beach, FL after back-to-back setbacks in competitive fights with Joseph George.

Escudero, who did most of the leading, had many good moments. The 99-91 tally against the Argentine was a head-scratcher. (Commentator Paulie Malignaggi said the offending  judge, Alvaro Rodriguez, should have his fee withheld and be forced to serve a one-year suspension.)

Also

In an 8-round lightweight contest, former two-time Olympian Tsendbaatar Erdenebat, a 27-year-old Mongolian southpaw who began his pro career in China and now resides in southern California, improved to 9-0 (4) with a unanimous decision over Guinea-born Mohamed Soumaoro (11-3) who was a willing mixer but was out-classed. The scores were 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

As one would expect from a two-time Olympian, Erdenebat is a good technician who puts his punches together well, but doesn’t have a lot of power. If his name rings a bell, he’s the fellow who purportedly sent Ryan Garcia to the hospital from the effects of a body punch during a sparring session.

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Two Featherweight Title Fights Top a Strong Bill at Turning Stone on Saturday

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When Top Rank announced in December that they would be returning to Turning Stone Resort & Casino for an ESPN+ show on March 2nd featuring two featherweight world title fights they promised a deep action-packed show. Usually such words fall by the wayside as the event ultimately comes together but in this instance the docket is loaded from top to bottom with name attractions, undefeated prospects, local grudge matches and two very well-matched co-headliners.

In the first of the co-headliners, Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) makes the third defense of his IBF featherweight belt against Japan’s Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs). Lopez is a popular brawler whose aggressive style and lack of attention to defense usually makes for entertaining fights. Abe, a southpaw, is a slick boxer who is coming off a career best win against Kiko Martinez last April. Abe has a style similar to that of Ruben Villa who outboxed Lopez to a ten round unanimous decision win in 2019.

The co-headline finale is being contested for the vacant WBA featherweight title between Otabek Kholmatov (12-0, 11 KOs) and Raymond Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs). Both fighters were highly touted heading into the pro ranks. Ford has the speed advantage but Kholmatov has a big edge in power. Social media seems split right down the middle on this fight and oddsmakers agree installing Kholmatov as a very slight favorite as of this writing.

Also on this show is the return of the ever popular Nico Ali Walsh (9-1, 5 KOs) who bounced back from his first career defeat on Dec. 16 at a show in Guinea where he defeated a Frenchman with a 9-2-1 record (mysteriously, that fight isn’t yet listed on boxrec). He will face off against Luke Iannuccilli (7-0, 3 KOs). Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s grandson, will make his debut at Turning Stone Resort Casino in the same exact arena where his aunt and Boxing Hall of Famer Laila Ali made her professional boxing debut in October of 1999 with her legendary father sitting ringside. This will mark the fourth time a member of Muhammad Ali’s family has fought at Turning Stone.

The card also includes several contests featuring up-and-coming undefeated fighters. One match in particular to keep an eye on is an eight-round welterweight bout between a pair of unbeaten fighters in Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) and Tarik Zaina (13-0-1, 8 KOs). Zaina opened some eyes last November when he defeated Marcelino Lopez and Polanco is coming off three consecutive wins against opponents who had a cumulative record of 39-3.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t notate the local grudge match on the docket between Gerffred Ngayot (6-1, 5 KOs) of Buffalo and Bryce Mills (14-1, 5 KOs) of Syracuse. They are scheduled to face off in a six-round bout in the 140-pound division. They are on this show because each have solid local fan bases and matching them was a way to help fill the stands. Mills is a sharp accurate counterpuncher with all-around solid skills. Ngayot is an aggressive fighter who is not afraid to be first and fire away to the body. Stylistically this could turn into quite a barnburner and each have plenty of motivation to make a statement on what is a much bigger stage than they are accustomed to.

We are often quick to criticize those in the sport when cards come together that are seemingly either loaded with mismatches or bouts that just don’t pique much interest. This is an instance where those involved need to be applauded for putting together a card from top to bottom that will certainly give fans plenty of bang for their buck.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A Travesty of a Heavyweight ‘Title Fight’ Jake Paul and More

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It’s official. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, a formal press conference was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, to announce the forthcoming fight between Mahmoud Charr, formerly known as Manuel Charr, and Kubrat Pulev. They will meet in Bulgaria’s capital city on March 30 at a 12,000-seat arena.

Charr vs Kubrat bears the imprimatur of a world heavyweight title fight (WBA version). Charr is considered the champion, notwithstanding the fact that others have held the title since he first laid claim to it more than six years ago.

The WBA, as we know, recognizes two champions in some weight classes, a “super” champion and a “regular” champion. The “super” designation was created in 2000. It was designed to segregate title-holders into levels of accomplishment. In theory, a “super” champion has made five successful defenses and is recognized as a world title-holder by at least one of the three other major sanctioning bodies. “Super” champions are allowed certain liberties with respect to mandatory title defenses.

The bifurcation was greeted with hoots of derision. The Panama-based WBA trivialized the sport.

Mahmoud Charr

Mahmoud Charr was born in Beirut but has resided in Germany since he was a little boy. He won the vacant title with a 12-round decision over unexceptional Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany.  It was a close fight. TSS ringside correspondent Phil Woolever had Ustinov winning 7 rounds to 5, but conceded that the verdict could not be called an injustice.

The title that Charr won was vacated by Ruslan Chagaev who won the belt from Fres Oquendo, lost it to Lucas Browne, and got it back by decree when Browne’s post-fight urine tests showed evidence of banned substances. But Chagaev never fought again. His fight with Browne was his last.

Charr’s first defense was to come against Fres Oquendo. Slated for March 23, 2019 in Cologne after being pushed back from September of the previous year, the match never came to fruition when Charr tested positive for two banned substances. Things get really muddled from here with Charr pushed to the sideline by legal battles complicated by Don King’s shenanigans. King arranged a fight in Florida between Charr and his fighter Trevor Bryan and succeeded in getting Bryan the WBA belt when Charr was unable to get a visa. The belt is vacant again after Bryan was knocked out by Daniel Dubois who, in turn, was knocked out by “super” champion Oleksandr Usyk.

There are more threads to this saga but let’s not go there. Suffice it to say that after defeating Ustinov, Charr was out of action for the next three-and-a-half years. He’s had only three fights since 2017 and to say that his opponents were men of low repute would be giving them the best of it. In his most recent assignment, in December of 2022, he scored a second-round stoppage over 46-year-old Swiss-Albanian slug Nuri Seferi. That brought his record to 34-4 (20). He has been stopped three times, most recently in 2015 when he was halted in five frames by future cruiserweight champion Maris Briedis.

Kubrat Pulev

Kubrat Pulev will have the home field advantage in Sofia. Charr will have youth on his side. He’s 39; Pulev is 42.

Pulev sports a 30-3 record. The losses came at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko (L KO 5), Anthony Joshua (L KO 9), and Derek Chisora (L SD 12). He last fought in December at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, CA, where he won a lopsided decision over Polish journeyman Andrzej Wawrzyk.

In a previous engagement here at the Hangar, a concert hall that seats a shade over 3,000, he TKOed Bogdan Dinu. That bout is remembered mostly for what happened after it ended. In an incident that went viral on social media, Pulev surprised Jennifer Ravalo, a self-styled journalist, with a kiss on the lips. That animated women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and led to an 8-page spread in Playboy (of Ravalo, not Allred). The California State Athletic Commission fined and suspended Pulev and mandated that he undergo sexual harassment training. The suspension lasted 120 days.

The match between Charr and Pulev, says a blurb about it, is an “eagerly anticipated” clash between “two evergreen living legends.” We will let you provide the punchline, The winner is expected to fight Martin Bakole who was knocked out by Michael Hunter.

Jake Paul

Jake Paul, the enfant terrible of prizefighting, returns this Saturday on a card in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that will air on DAZN. Paul, an influencer who brought his big social media following with him when he took up fisticuffing, is coming off a first-round stoppage of Andre August, a no-name fighter from Texas. Saturday’s sacrificial lamb is a fellow from Dickinson, North Dakota (by way of Benicia, California) named Ryan Bourland.

Bourland, who is reportedly 35 years old but looks older, scored his signature win in 2018 when he avenged a previous defeat with a 10-round majority decision over Jose Hernandez. He has fought only one since then, TKOing a fighter with a losing record in a 6-rounder at a lodge on a remote Indian reservation in North Dakota. That improved his ledger to 17-2 (6 KOs).

Regarding Jake Paul, Thomas Hauser once wrote that he’s worked hard to become a better boxer and is “certainly better than a Golden Gloves novice.” There was a time when this reporter, perhaps naively, thought that Jake had the potential to become a legitimate top-15 cruiserweight, but his recent choice of opponents suggests that he is comfortable just spinning his wheels.

His bout with Bourland will play second fiddle to Amanda Serrano’s featherweight title defense against Germany’s Nina Meinke (18-3, 4 KOs). Although Amanda has a lot of mileage on her odometer, she is expected to have little difficulty with Meinke. In another bout of note, Puerto Rican campaigners Jonathan Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 KOs) and Rene Santiago (12-3, 9 KOs) will meet in a 12-rounder with Gonzalez’s WBO light flyweight title at stake.

—-

Let’s conclude this write-up on an upbeat note. Hall of Fame boxing writer Bernard Fernandez, a frequent TSS contributor, informs us that his fifth and presumably final anthology is nearing completion with a likely release date of April or May. “Championship Rounds, Round 5” includes a foreword by Gerry Cooney and has drawn glowing reviews from the likes of Dave Kindred and Dr. Gordon Marino who both had an early peek at the manuscript. Kindred, a renowned sportswriter and author, was the subject of a 2021 piece on “60 Minutes.” Marino, a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, has written extensively about boxing for the Wall Street Journal.

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