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THE FLURRY: No Wylie, I Say Pacquiao Beats Bradley in Rematch

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PacquiaoBradley Hogan 33Bradley-Pac 2: You’re wrong, Wylie.

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of Lee Wylie’s stylistic breakdowns of fights on TSS, you’re missing out. On top of being entertaining and informative, he’s almost always right. When he says a jab from a different angle wins a fight, he’s usually spot-on. But in assessing a potential rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, I wholeheartedly disagree with his belief that Bradley beats Manny. I just don’t see it.

Bradley may have been battling two bad wheels (which is incredibly impressive in retrospect) when they first met, but his inability to avoid and/or win exchanges is why he won’t beat Manny. In past fights, he has shown a desire to exchange punches. Particularly in a firefight when bombs are being thrown, Bradley (seemingly on competitive instinct) has too much pride to leave the pocket. He did not win one exchange against Manny, nor will he. Manny is faster, straighter, and more accurate with his power punches than Bradley. Bradley has immense will and determination, but his inclination to plant his feet and fight fire with fire will be (and was) his downfall. It takes an expert tactician/extremely accurate puncher to slow him down.Bradley’s hand speed is top-notch, but it’s not just hand speed that is needed to slow down PacMan. Juan Manuel Marquez has good, not great hand speed. He consistently slows Manny down by beating him to the punch (hand speed obviously helps here—but throwing first and landing first are two different beasts), and winning plenty of exchanges with his laser-like precision. Bradley seemed to try this approach, but he doesn’t have the God-given counter-punching abilities of Marquez. He simply needs to alter his strategy, and I don’t see him having the tools to develop a winning one.

While Manny’s attack has become that of a stalker (to Wylie’s point), and I agree he’s not adept at changing his style mid-fight (to Wylie’s point), he won’t have to (my point). The only thing Manny did wrong in the last fight was take his foot off the gas. He was on cruise control for large portions of the fight, and if you believe in the competence of the judges that night, it’s what cost him. He will easily win a rematch simply by pushing the fight for a full 12 rounds and throwing more punches (namely lead uppercuts) to neutralize Bradley’s jab, and I predict this time by knockout. Manny will leave no doubt.

Alvarez-Ortiz, scratch that, Lopez

It’s a real shame Ortiz fell out because Victor Ortiz was the perfect fight. He’s a big enough name to make Golden Boy happy, and a good enough fighter to make the fans happy. The kicker is that Ortiz is always in exciting fights, and he’d bring out the best in Alvarez. We’d see if Alvarez can beat a guy who’s in his athletic prime and really comes to win. I’d also like to see Canelo’s chin tested, and although Ortiz is smaller, he can definitely hit.

I thought Cornelius ‘K9’ Bundrage would be the best choice for the matchup, aside from Miguel Cotto. What he lacks in pretty he makes up for with gritty. He’s just a tough dude. He might've made a Canelo fight ugly, but he’d have forced Canelo to really fight and adapt on the fly. K9’s recent win against Cory Spinks didn’t do him any favors regarding securing this lucrative matchup, but he did win that fight with a pretty dominant stoppage. His time spent on ‘The Contender’ series gives home some marketability, and the seasoned boxing fan knows his name well enough to avoid any sort of public outcry to Golden Boy. I’m sure Canelo would handle him, but it would prove that he could handle a scrapper, and in reality it would probably be his toughest test to date.

It looked like Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan would be fighting one another (pending Al Haymon’s expert advice) to see who Alvarez would fight after his September TBD matchup. Both of those names would have been nice fill-ins for Ortiz in September, it would've been fine to let the contenders to decide with their fists who gets the big payday. It’s tough to pick a winner in this #1 contender matchup since Lara only shows up to fight at 100% sometimes, and Vanes hasn’t fought a serious opponent in what seems like years. I’ll take Lara, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

Carlos Molina hadn’t even been mentioned to get the Alvarez fight. Poor guy. Within boxing circles, it’s well known that Molina could give a test to any of these contenders. In fact, he already gave Lara all he could handle and I doubt the powers that be are looking to line that rematch up. This brings me to my next point:

Every weight class should have ongoing 4-man tournaments to determine genuinely mandatory contenders. K9, Lara, Molina, and Vanes (Austin Trout needs to earn entry here) should be FIGHTING for the right to take on. This should be done in every weight class. It helps the promoters, too! It gets the big ticket matchup additional marketability by adding credibility to the contenders. If you don’t think much of Lara, beating Vanes on a televised broadcast would go a long way in convincing doubters that he deserves Saul Alvarez and the paycheck that comes with him. Sigh.

Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

I’ll take Martinez, but I don’t think this is a gimme. I’m really curious to see what the betting line looks like on this fight, because JCC, Jr. could definitely be a live dog (if he’s more than 3-to-1) with his body punching, chin and tenacity. If Martinez can’t hurt him or at least back him up with his straight left, this is going to be a dogfight. That said, I’ll take Martinez’s and his sublime movement and boxing ability.

At the end of the day, if Andy Lee could ‘outbox’ JCC in spurts, Marvailla should put on a clinic. Even though Junior walked right through Andy Lee, I think Maravilla is on another level.

In theory, this should be a night of the jabs. Sergio, for a ‘boxer’, does not really use his jab all that effectively. Rather, he leads with straight lefts and dissects his opponents with precise counter-punching. If Sergio doesn’t use his jab to dictate the range of this fight, he’ll make it a much tougher night than it needs to be. If JCC, Jr. doesn’t jab to find his range, he’ll be on the end of straight lefts all night long and lose in a landslide. I’m confident Sergio will use his jab, not just a show-jab but as a means to back up the younger foe, and follow up with multiple-punch combinations.

The size of the ring will actually be very important in dictating where this fight takes place. Obviously, a smaller ring limits the dancefloor for Maravilla, but it would encourage the majority of the fight to take place in the center of the ring (i.e. Advantage: Sergio) as Martinez cannot afford to sit on the ropes against JCC, Jr. While Martinez is known for his movement, he showed in his first fight with Paul Williams that he can definitely trade shots effectively in the center of the ring. Sergio is simply the more creative puncher. Creativity coupled with accuracy typically wins out in close quarter unless there’s a massive power discrepancy, and I don’t think either is a pure KO artist. I can only see Chavez winning if he can pin Martinez up against the ropes, and I just don’t see Sergio allowing him to do that.

I think it’s safe to say JCC, Jr. is the best fighter Sergio has faced since Paul Williams. Against the aforementioned Punisher, Sergio showed an ability to take a punch, last 12 hard rounds, go toe-to-toe, and in the second of their memorable matches, he showed that he can take you out with one punch. All of these qualities (coupled with his ability to move and counter effectively) will be on full display in a fight-of-the-year candidate victory. Yes, I said fight-of-the-year candidate. JCC, Jr. has the necessary heart, power, and aggression to make this a barnburner. Fortunately for Martinez, he’s already been in these types of fights with better fighters than Chavez, which is why he’ll take home the belts.

Nonito Donaire looked explosive, but not incredible

After seeing his weekend win against Mathebula, it’s safe to say that Donaire could be a bit one-dimensional. Granted that one dimension is explosive lead power punching, he doesn’t seem to offer much else. His movement is fun to watch, but it’s not as effective as it looks since he took a number of clean punches from Mathebula. Fortunately for him, Mathebula hits like a 122-lb fighter.

Mathebula was very impressive in his application of the sweet science, although he was underwhelming to the common eye. Short, straight counter-punches landed cleanly for him for much of the second half of the fight against Donaire. After recognizing Donaire’s plan to simply leap in with his lead left hook, Mathebula did a tremendous job neutralizing it (Well, after he got dropped by one).

Sidebar: Hot trainer Robert Garcia did his best Freddie Roach impersonation by giving little to no help to Donaire in altering his game plan despite being out-landed in most of the middle rounds.

For the record, I’m a huge Donaire fan. I love the way that he brings it and consistently throws power punches. He’s a treat to watch and I look forward to seeing him fight again. Just seeing Mathebula take away his left and take few clean punches (except a vicious right that probably broke his jaw in the 11th) makes me wonder how great he really is. It sounds like he wants to unify titles before moving up in weight again, but the obvious choice is seeing him fight Guillermo Rigondeaux.  The explosive, aggressive punching of Donaire would make for a perfect style clash with the cerebral counter-punching excellence that Rigondeaux showed in his last bout with Teon Kennedy. It would be a true display of the sweet science. I’ll take Rigo since Mathebula was able to slow down Donaire so well.

Kelly Pavlik’s win more than meets the eye

Pavlik’s win on the Donaire undercard didn’t impress me (or anyone, really) all that much. However, his post-fight interview made me re-think what he had shown us. In his last few fights, including Saturday night’s, he has utterly outclassed the B/C-level fighters he’s faced. He said it himself in the interview: “That’s the caliber of fighter I am”. He’s totally right. While he didn’t look spectacular, he never once looked vulnerable against these guys, and completely dominated them in lopsided victories. He’s supposed to dominate these guys, and he is doing just that. He’s admittedly trying to get his rounds in, so I’ll personally look forward to a step up for him. At the end of the day, his only losses are to Sergio Martinez (largely recognized as the #3 P4P fighter on the planet) and Bernard Hopkins, who’s not only a first-ballot Hall of Famer but just a horrific style matchup for anyone. Bring on Lucian Bute! Let’s see who can bounce back to the top of the 168-lb fold.

Khan-Garcia Prediction

Khan by dominant decision. The only way I see Khan losing this fight is if he gets knocked out. If I’m wrong, I’ll blame Freddie Roach big-time. There’s a noticeable skill discrepancy between these two fighters, so Khan needs to exploit Danny Garcia. Garcia is a very good fighter, and I truly believe that Khan has an elite skill-set. He should be able overwhelm Garcia.

Props to Donovan “Da Bomb” George.

As many expected, Andre Dirrell backed out of his fight with Adonis Stevenson. What also comes as no surprise, Donovan George didn’t balk at accepting the fight. The heavy-handed fighter (who, like me, is from Chicago and, unlike me, has a huge following in Chicago) has a big time right hand, and always comes to fight. Showtime will get their money’s worth, and hopefully Da Bomb gets back in the 168-title picture.

Follow me to hear more predictions and fight analysis @Blakehoc

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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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Results from Orlando where Berlanga KOed McCrory in a Possible Prelude to Canelo

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Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organization was at the Caribe Royale tonight, a non-gaming resort near Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Unbeaten super middleweights Edgar Berlanga and Padraig McCrory squared off in the main event.

The fight started slow, but it soon became apparent that McCrory, a 35-year-old father of three from Belfast, Northern Ireland, was a domestic-level fighter, notwithstanding his undefeated (18-0) record. Berlanga, whose last five fights had gone the distance, roughed him up with some dirty tactics before taking him out in the sixth round with a crunching right hand that sent the Irishman face-first to the canvas. As McCrory pulled himself upright on rubbery legs, the towel flew in from his corner. The official time was 2:44.

As well-documented, Berlanga opened his pro career with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts. Nonetheless, he was let go by Top Rank in what purportedly was an amicable divorce. This was his second fight under the Matchroom banner. Eddie Hearn signed him with an eye on scoring a big-money match with Canelo Alvarez. The red-headed Mexican superstar is committed to returning to the ring in May on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas, but hasn’t yet locked in an opponent.

If Berlanga gets the nod, he would be a heavy underdog, but the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico angle (coupled with Berlanga’s new-found reputation as a dirty fighter) would make it an easy sell.

Co-Feature

In only his third professional fight, Cuban defector Andy Cruz was bumped into the co-feature. That was in recognition of his amateur pedigree. Among his accomplishments, he was 4-0 vs. Keyshawn Davis with the last win coming in the gold medal round of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cruz, 28, was expected to win as he pleased against his Mexican opponent, Bryan Zamarripa, and he did win all 10 rounds on all three scorecards, but in common with many great Cuban amateurs, he seemed to lack something in the power department. Zamarripa was 14-2 heading in.

Other Bouts of Note

In a 12-round welterweight contest that was devoid of drama, Uzbekistan native Shakhram Giyasov, an Olympic silver medalist who has lost precious few rounds as a pro, won a lopsided technical decision over well-recycled 34-year-old Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano.

Giyasov (15-0, 9 KOs) sent Cano (35-9-1) to the canvas in the third round with a body punch. At the end of round 11, as their feet were tangled, he pushed Cano to the canvas and the Mexican ostensibly suffered a broken ankle when he fell. That sent the bout to the scorecards where the decision (109-99 x3) was a formality. With the victory, Giyasov earned a shot at WBA belt-holder Eimantas Stanionis.

The 12-round bantamweight match between Antonio Vargas and Jonathan Rodriguez, two fighters of Puerto Rican descent, was framed as a WBA bantamweight title eliminator. Rodriguez, the underdog, floored Vargas in the opening stanza. He had scored a stunning first-round knockout of 27-1 Khalid Yafai in his previous start and it appeared that another upset was brewing. But the match quickly turned one-sided in favor of Vargas who put Rodriguez on the canvas in the very next frame (and had two points deducted for hitting him after the bell) and then put him down again at the end of round seven with a sweeping left hook after which Rodriguez’s corner properly pulled him out.

Vargas, a 2016 Olympian who had home field advantage in Florida, improved to 18-1 (10 KOs) and became the mandatory opponent for Takuma Inoue who won earlier today in Tokyo. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Rodriguez declined to 17-2-1.

The opening bout on the TV portion of the card was a 10-round flyweight affair that looked like a runaway for showboating Yankiel Rivera until gritty Andy Dominguez made things interesting.

Rivera, who improved to 5-0 (2), was Puerto Rico’s lone representative in the Tokyo Olympics. In Mexico-born Andy Dominguez, he was fighting a former three-time New York City Golden Gloves champion who was also unbeaten (10-0 heading in). Rivera dominated the match but was caught napping in round nine and Dominguez, although all busted-up, hurt him and almost put him down. That was most lopsided round of the fight, but also the only round that Dominguez won in the eyes of the judges.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Junto Nakatani Turns in Another Masterclass on Saturday’s Tripleheader in Tokyo

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In a rather odd juxtaposition, several of boxing’s best little men were on display today at Japan’s National Sumo Arena in Tokyo. The best of the lot, Junto Nakatani, improved to 27-0 (20 KOs) while tearing away the WBC world bantamweight title from Tijuana’s Alexandro Santiago (28-4-5) who was making the first defense of the title he won in Las Vegas in May when he upset Nonito Donaire.

It was a one-sided beatdown. Nakatani, who had a 5-inch height advantage, won every round before ending the contest in the sixth. The end came at the 1:12 mark when Nakatani terminated the affair with his second knockdown. The first came earlier in the round, the result of a straight left hand. The finisher was a big right hook.

With the victory, Nakatani became a world title-holder in a third weight class. He’s an outstanding talent, worthy of pound-for-pound consideration, and would be favored in a unification fight with Takuma Inoue.

Inoue, the younger brother of pound-for-pound king Naoya “Monster” Inoue, did his part to bring the match to fruition with a ninth-round stoppage of Filipino veteran Jerwin Ancajas in the main event. Inoue (19-1, 5 KOs) was making the first defense of the WBA diadem he won with a wide decision over Venezuela’s mildewed Liborio Solis. That title was conveniently vacated by Takuma’s renowned brother.

This figured to be the most competitive match on the card and Ancajas (34-4-2) had his moments before Inoue ended the contest at the 0:44 mark of round nine with a four-punch combination climaxed by a shot to the liver. Heading in, Ancajas, who had a long title reign at 115, was 9-2-1 in world title fights and hadn’t previously been stopped.

In the first of the three title fights, 29-year-old Kosei Tanaka became a four-weight belt-holder in record time with a unanimous decision over Mexicali’s stubborn but out-classed Christian Bacasegua “Rocky” Rangel. At stake was the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title.

Tanaka, who previously held belts at 105, 108, and 112, started slow but the outcome was never in doubt after he knocked “Rocky” to the canvas in the eighth frame. The judges had it 119-108, 117-110, and 116-111. With the victory, Tanaka improved to 20-1 (11). In his only defeat, he was stopped by countryman Kazuto Ioka. He hunkers for a rematch but, if it happens, he might wish that it hadn’t. Ioka is long in the tooth – he turns 35 next month – but is very good and shows no signs of slowing down. Rangel (22-5-2) had won nine straight heading in, but against questionable opposition and was making his first start outside Mexico.

The Teiken Promotions card was presented in association with Top Rank and aired in the U.S. on ESPN+.

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