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THE BREAKDOWN: Pacquiao-Marquez IV, In-Depth Analysis

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Pacquiao workout 121127 005a“Freddie, this Marquez knows me better than Jinkee does. He knows what I'm going to do before I do.” (Chris Farina-Top Rank)

This Saturday, Manny Pacquiao {54-4-2 with 38 Kos} and Juan Manuel Marquez {54-6-1 with 39 Kos} will do it all again at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and possibly bring some closure to their hotly disputed rivalry. Although Pacquiao has yet to suffer an official loss to Marquez {the Filipino icon is up 2-o-1 against the Mexican legend} the hope here is that a fourth meeting may provide an answer as to who the better man is -such has been the controversial nature of the round scoring in their previous meetings, there are plenty out there who feel Marquez should have been declared the winner on all three occasions. Furthermore, because Pacquiao has failed to knock out any of his previous five opponents, along with looking far from his scintillating best in his previous three appearances –a lackluster win over Shane Mosley and a contentious win and loss to Marquez and Timothy Bradley respectively- many have been quick to declare that Manny Pacquiao is no longer the force of nature he once was.

It cannot be denied that at 33 years-old, Manny Pacquiao will have undoubtedly lost a little in the way of his speed and reflexes. Nevertheless, I believe Pacquiao’s recent form is not so much about physical erosion, as it is about the standard of opponent that’s been standing in front of him of late.

Here, I’d like to touch on why Juan Manuel Marquez has enjoyed more success against Manny Pacquiao than all of Pacquiao’s previous opponents since the David Diaz fight combined. I’m referring to the Diaz fight primarily because I believe this was the fight that kick started Pacquiao’s meteoric rise to the apex of the boxing world.

Manny Pacquiao, like all fighters, has certain tendencies and signature moves that he employs in all of his fights. Juan Manuel Marquez’s success against Pacquiao can be attributed towards how well he deals with them. Let’s now take a look at some of Manny Pacquiao’s signature moves, and in turn, examine how Juan Manuel Marquez and some of Pacquiao’s other opponents have dealt with them.

The trailing left hand lead

One of Pacquiao’s most utilized weapons throughout his boxing career has been his trailing left hand lead. Pacquiao pulls this off mainly by drifting to his left, and to the right of his opponent {unusual for a southpaw} before transferring his weight back over to his right side prior to releasing the shot. One of the reasons Pacquiao is effective with his trailing left hand lead is because of a subtle movement. Even though Pacquiao is considered an ultra-aggressive fighter, if you take a good look at his movement –particularly against the likes of Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto- you’ll notice that Pacquiao is actually backing up slightly as he’s drifting to his left. This, I believe, lures his opponent into leading off with a jab because of Pacquiao’s perceived vulnerable positioning –his lead hand is on the outside of his opponent’s lead hand, therefore, he should be available to hit with the jab. What’s really happening, however, is that Pacquiao is lining his opponent up for his trailing left hand.

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Here, Cotto is standing still and Pacquiao is moving diagonally left. As both men attack at the same time, Pacquiao’s superior speed along with his dominant attacking angle allows him to land with his trailing hand as Cotto is missing with his lead. Notice how Cotto’s head remains central and his body is upright before, during and after jabbing. By comparison, Pacquiao pushes off his back foot as he dips low, shifts his weight over to his right and takes his head away from the center and outside of where Cotto’s jab is traveling. This evasive action allows Pacquiao to land his left hand lead up the middle without being in the line of fire.

Because Cotto was static and decided to punch with Pacquiao, a southpaw who was thinking angles, he came off worse.

Pacquiao continued to find the target with his trailing left hand lead against Cotto.

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Cotto remains stationary. As Pacquiao drifts left and is slightly backing up, he lands his trailing left hand lead inside of Cotto’s jab. Notice how Pacquiao’s right shoulder is outside of Cotto’s right shoulder just before he leans in. Again, Pacquiao has achieved his required position, giving Cotto the false illusion that he’s in range to be jabbed. Just as Cotto throws the jab, Pacquiao shifts his weight back over to his right and lands his trailing hand.

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Here, Cotto is standing directly in front of Pacquiao, who is drifting left while backing up slightly. See how Pacquiao shifts his weight onto his back foot to draw out the lead. Cotto responds and leans forward. Because Cotto’s weight is over on his front foot, his mobility is now restricted. As a result, Cotto can’t avoid yet another left hand lead down the pipe from Pacquiao. Cotto is an easy target because Pacquiao has gained a dominant angle yet again.

Here’s another look at Pacquiao landing his trailing left hand lead, this time, against Oscar De La Hoya.

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In this sequence, Pacquiao snakes his trailing left hand lead underneath the jab of De La Hoya. Take note of De La Hoya’s positioning as he’s throwing the jab. He’s stationary and upright. By contrast, Pacquiao is dipping low and is taking his head away from the center line. In this instance, Pacquiao finishes with an evasive step around to Oscar’s blindside. Look at De La Hoya’s positioning in the final photograph. Oscar is in no position to land his vaunted left hook. Also, if he’s going to throw a right hand at Pacquiao, he’d have to punch across himself, which would hinder his power and technique.

Here’s an excellent little video highlighting Pacquiao’s use of the trailing left hand lead against Oscar De La Hoya.

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When you look at the video, I want you to concentrate more on what De La Hoya is doing, rather than simply focus on Pacquiao’s left hand. Throughout the video, you’ll notice De La Hoya is rarely moving. Instead, he’s standing flat footed with his gloves almost a shoulder width apart. Even though Pacquiao’s foot work is exceptional in this clip, De La Hoya, like Miguel Cotto, didn’t exactly make himself the most elusive of targets.

Now let’s take a look at how Juan Manuel Marquez’s positions himself against Manny Pacquiao.

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Pacquiao is drifting left, looking to land his trailing left hand lead. Notice the difference in movement between Marquez and De La Hoya. As Pacquiao is drifting left, Marquez is moving with Pacquiao, on his back foot and to his left. Moving in this way allows Marquez to avoid Pacquiao’s trailing hand by staying on the outside and out of range of it. So much so, as is evident in third photograph above, that Pacquiao refrains from even throwing it and pulls it back at the last second, out of fear of falling short and being countered by Marquez.

Marquez’s movement in conjunction with Pacquiao’s is nothing new. This is something that’s been happening since their first fight.

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Here’s Pacquiao moving to his left. As he drifts left, Marquez moves with him and steps to his left. As a result, we’re presented with a visual of both men moving together in a clockwise motion –this has been a common sight in all three of their fights.  Although you wouldn’t necessarily think it, Marquez’s simple but effective maneuvering has nullified Pacquiao’s trailing left hand lead. If Marquez is standing still, as Cotto and De La Hoya did, then Pacquiao can gain a dominant angle and land his trailing left hand lead with relative ease. Because Marquez is always moving and keeps himself on the right shoulder of Pacquiao, he’s able to neutralize one of Pacquiao’s primary weapons, while at the same time, line himself up to land his own trailing hand.

Two handed feint attack

Pacquiao’s two handed feint attack is probably his most dangerous offensive weapon. Most of Pacquiao’s knockdowns and knockouts over the years have come about because of this attack. This, I believe, is why many of Pacquiao’s opponents are clueless as to where his punches are coming from. In reality, Pacquiao seldom throws anything other than straight punches. However, because Pacquiao is brilliant at either freezing or drawing the lead through feinting, his opponents are often left defenseless against his explosiveness and punch accuracy.

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Here’s a prime example of Pacquiao using his lightning quick two handed feint attack. Pacquiao and Mosley are lined up with one another. Pacquiao feints by stepping forward slightly and dropping low. This draws out a lead from Mosley. As Mosley sticks out his left arm, Pacquiao explodes in behind a one-two and sends Mosley to the canvas. In real time, this all takes place in a split second. Notice how Pacquiao has gained a dominant angle as he’s stepping forward. Pacquiao’s lead foot is well outside of Mosley’s lead foot. Pacquiao’s feint attack, coupled with his speed and explosiveness, sent Mosley into survival mode for the remainder of the fight.

Here’s another look at Pacquiao’s two handed feint attack. This time, Miguel Cotto is the recipient.

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See how Pacquiao lands a right hand and exits on Cotto’s blindside. Before Cotto gets the chance to reset, Pacquiao feints and comes in from another angle behind a right, left, right combination. Notice how Cotto has been turned in the center of the ring before trying to defend himself by blocking Pacquiao’s attack.

Here’s a great clip of Pacquiao feinting Cotto out of position prior to launching an attack.

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If you go to around the 10:22 mark of the video, you’ll notice Pacquiao rolling under a right hook as he’s exiting the pocket after landing a straight left to the body of Cotto. Before Cotto has a chance to fully reset himself, Pacquiao feints low, bringing Cotto’s guard down, and steps in and lands a right hand before stepping back out of range again. Moments later, Pacquiao feints again, bringing Cotto’s left glove down, and throws a right/left as he’s moving off to the side. Once they are squared up again, Pacquiao feints Cotto for a third time. Yet again, Cotto responds by lowering his left glove leaving an opening for Pacquiao to land his right hook as he’s sliding off of Cotto’s left shoulder.

During this whole sequence, notice how it is Cotto who is following Pacquiao. Cotto may be the fighter in pursuit, but Manny is the one who’s initiating all of the action. Manny is bouncing in and out of range, dictating the angles, while Cotto is being made to turn over and over again in the middle of the ring.  

Juan Manuel Marquez is no stranger to Manny Pacquiao’s feint attack. In fact, this attack is what led to Marquez being dropped for the first time during the opening moments of their very first fight.

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Here, Pacquiao catches and drops Marquez with the exact same combination that dropped and hurt Shane Mosley. Out of range, Pacquiao feints low and explodes in behind a straight right/left handed attack. Frozen by the feint, Marquez can’t react in time to block Pacquiao’s assault.

What I find most fascinating about this sequence is the time at which Marquez was caught and dropped by Pacquiao’s feint attack. It was barely a minute into the fight. Soon after, Marquez was dropped twice more in the opening frame. Needless to say, Joe Cortez wouldn’t have been frowned upon had he waved the fight off after the third knockdown. Going into the second round then, one could be forgiven for thinking that Pacquiao was a bad style match up for Marquez and that the lightning quick, high volume Filipino may have had the counter punching Mexican’s number. After the first round, Marquez, a thinking man’s fighter if ever there was one, made an adjustment and has never been caught in Pacquiao’s feint attack again.

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Here in the third fight, as Pacquiao feints and attempts to land his right/left combination, Marquez  is backing away and pivoting on his front foot in a clockwise motion. As Pacquiao steps in, Marquez blunts the attack with his left glove as he’s turning away from Pacquiao’s power hand. Notice the distance that Marquez has attained here against Pacquiao. Pacquiao’s at his most dangerous when he’s landing the punches you don’t see coming when he’s launching his attack from the blindside. Here, Marquez sees everything.

Here’s a video clip from the first fight which highlights exactly what Marquez does to shut down Pacquiao’s attack.

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If you go to around the 31:00 mark of the video, you’ll see Pacquiao trying to land his right/left handed attack. As Pacquiao performs a foot feint, and falls in with a right lead followed by a straight left hand, Marquez throws a left hand backing up, while pivoting on his lead foot in a clockwise motion. This evasive maneuver causes Pacquiao to sail past with his left hand. Once they are facing each other again, Pacquiao tries the same attack with the same result; Marquez pivots clockwise on his front foot and lands a left hand as Pacquiao is falling short with his attack. Pacquiao then tries his luck for a third time. Notice how as Pacquiao feints, Marquez is backing up and is already anticipating Pacquiao’s {by now rather predictable} two handed attack. As Pacquiao’s momentum carries him forward, Marquez’s counter punching intentions causes Pacquiao to make a fast retreat.

So how did Pacquiao continue to have success with this attack against the likes of Cotto and Margarito and not Juan Manuel Marquez? It’s simple; Marquez knows exactly how to defend against it where others don’t.

Here’s a side by side comparison of how Marquez and Cotto defend the exact same Pacquiao attack.

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  • As Pacquiao leans in and knocks down Cotto’s left glove in order to create an opening for his follow up right hand, Cotto is static and it trying to avoid the attack by blocking and using upper body movement. Cotto can’t block low and high at the same time and ends up eating a Pacquiao right hand and is sent to the canvas.
  • As Pacquiao leans in and knocks down Marquez’s left glove in order to create an opening for his follow up right hand, Marquez is on his back foot, moving away from Pacquiao’s charge. As Pacquiao tries to land his right hand up top, Marquez counters with a right/left combination.

Simply put, Miguel Cotto tried to defend Pacquiao’s two handed attacks by trying to block them using upper body movement, whereas Juan Manuel Marquez evaded Pacquiao’s two handed attacks by using clever foot work to keep himself out of range and keep Pacquiao falling short with his lunges. Manny Pacquiao is notorious for his unconventional attacking angles. Against Marquez, who positions himself in such a way that his opponent is never out of his sight, Pacquiao becomes a lineal attacker.

The right hook

After the very first Pacquiao-Marquez fight, Freddie Roach set about making some alterations to Manny Pacquiao’s game. The development of Pacquiao’s right hand was at the very top of that list. Simply put, Manny Pacquiao was far too predictable when relying on nothing else but his straight left hand. Fast forward to the David Diaz fight, and you’ll be treated to one of the finest displays of lead hand work in recent memory.

Here’s an excellent clip showing just how effective Pacquiao became with his lead hand.

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Throughout this video, you’ll see Pacquiao doubling and even tripling up on his lead right hand over and over against David Diaz. Not just throwing hooks, but uppercuts and jolting straights tool. Diaz had no answer for Pacquiao’s multi-faceted violence.

Another excellent example of Pacquiao’s right hand work took place in the Ricky Hatton and Antonio Margarito fights.

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As Ricky Hatton is looking to get inside and land his left hook, Pacquiao sees it coming and counters him. Pacquiao’s speed allows him to reach the target first with a right hook inside of Hatton’s open guard.

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As Margarito sticks out a left jab, Pacquiao takes his head away from the center and lands a counter right hook. This leads to Margarito going on the defensive and Pacquiao landing a further two blows to the body and to the head. See how Margarito’s head doesn’t move as he’s throwing, whereas Pacquiao’s is always off to the side and away from the center line as he’s throwing his shots.

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Again, as Margarito sticks out a left jab before throwing a right hand, Pacquiao reaches the target first with his counter right hook, almost sending the granite chinned Margarito to the canvas.

By my reckoning, the Antonio Margarito fight was the last time we saw Pacquiao’s right hook feature prominently. But why is this? I believe there are numerous reasons for this;

  • Pacquiao’s best right hand work to date came in the David Diaz fight. Not to be disrespectful here, but David Diaz is one of the slowest fighters you’re ever likely to see at 135 pounds. He’s also a southpaw. When two southpaws are lined up with each other, it becomes difficult for either fighter to land their trailing hand. Hence, this is why Pacquiao’s right hand featured more in this fight than in any other. Pacquiao was able to land his right hand pretty much every time he let it go. His better understanding of angles along with the speed advantage he had over Diaz allowed for it.

  • Ricky Hatton and Antonio Margarito fought Manny Pacquiao the exact same way; straight ahead. They also nearly always led with their left hand –a hook for Hatton and a jab for Margarito. Because Pacquiao had a huge speed advantage over both fighters, he was able to time them coming in. If you look at the fights closely, you’ll notice that a lot of the time, Pacquiao was laying back and countering. Even though these fights are considered to be two of Pacquiao’s most violent displays to date, most of the action that took place in them was initiated by Hatton and Margarito.

So what was it that Marquez does differently to avoid the right hook, or even stop it from being thrown in the first place? Primarily, Marquez does this by staying disciplined by avoiding taking the lead against Pacquiao. Because Marquez operates almost exclusively on the back foot, it becomes very difficult for Pacquiao, who often resorts to following Marquez around the ring, to counter him with anything at all, let alone a right hook. Even if Pacquiao decides to lie back and wait in an attempt to lure Marquez into taking the lead, Marquez has more tricks up his sleeve which soon test Manny’s patience and bring out his aggressive nature.

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As neither man are looking to lead, notice how Marquez dips low and provokes a reaction out of Pacquiao, who reacts to Marquez’s feint by leading off with a right/left combination, only for Marquez to counter him with a left hand as he’s moving away. As long as Marquez is moving away and stepping outside of Pacquiao’s right shoulder, landing the right hook is nigh on impossible for him.

Against Margarito and Hatton, Pacquiao had success in firing his right hook inside or around their left hands just as they were throwing. Hatton was far too open as he threw his left hook and Antonio Margarito’s jab was lazy and lacked any real commitment. Both fighters also failed to move their heads as they came inside.

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Look at the difference in Marquez’s attack. Pacquiao is clearly looking to counter Marquez with his right hook, but Marquez has other ideas. As Marquez steps inside, notice how committed to the attack he is. This is one of the reasons why Marquez continues to be a problem for Manny Pacquiao; Marquez isn’t afraid of taking risks, even if it means being countered. In this instance, Marquez’s gamble pays off as he connects with a right hand. As Marquez steps in, he throws a range finding jab to take Pacquiao’s eye away from the real attack, his straight right hand. Also, notice Marquez’s alignment as he’s stepping inside. He’s dipping low and he’s taking his head away from the center line. Now where have we seen this before?

Because Pacquiao is often reduced to following Marquez around the ring, landing a right hook while moving forward, while trying to close the distance becomes an impossible task. Hence, against Marquez, you only ever really see Pacquiao throw a right lead before his straight left hand.

Marquez’s varied attack

Throughout their trilogy, one of the things that stood out for me has been the variation of Marquez’s attack against Manny Pacquiao. Where most of Pacquiao’s opponents seem to throw little more than single shots against him, likely out of fear of leaving themselves at the mercy of his blazing hand speed, Marquez keeps Pacquiao occupied by throwing just about every single punch in the book, thus making his counter attack very difficult to read.

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Here’s Pacquiao throwing a rare jab. Look at how Marquez counters it. Where most of Pacquiao’s opponents are apprehensive to let their hands go, Marquez steps in with a right cross, left uppercut, right cross combination, taking his head away from the center as he throws.

For me, this is one of the ways in which Marquez causes Pacquiao to be less assertive with his attacks. Marquez is certainly not the hardest puncher Pacquiao has faced, nor is he the strongest physically. What Marquez is willing to do however, that others are not, is let his hands go. Truth be told, even though Pacquiao’s chin is excellent, he doesn’t react well to being hit cleanly. When Marquez lands flush with some of those combinations, you can see the hesitancy in Pacquiao’s follow up attacks. Marquez hits hard enough and often enough to earn Pacquiao’s respect, which prevents Pacquiao from simply overwhelming him.

Verdict

Just like Ken Norton was to Muhammad Ali, Juan Manuel Marquez continues to be the stylistic thorn in Manny Pacquiao’s side. So much so in fact, that other fighters have begun borrowing from his tactical tool shed of late. Both Shane Mosley and Timothy Bradley avoided taking the fight to Pacquiao, instead, opting to use more of an evasive counter punching strategy by forcing Pacquiao into becoming the aggressor -no doubt by looking at film of Marquez in the ring with Pacquiao. Of course, there aren’t many fighters out there who are as adept as Marquez is when it comes to counter punching, but Pacquiao’s rather subdued performances against both Shane Mosley and Timothy Bradley were clearly a direct result of a smart positional strategy plotted against him, as opposed to any physical decline, in my opinion. You want to see Manny Pacquiao rekindle some of his old fire? Stick Brandon Rios in with him, you’ll see the old Manny Pacquiao soon enough.

My point to you is that I believe Manny Pacquiao is pretty much the same fighter he’s always been. It’s just that Juan Manuel Marquez knows exactly how to fight him and fighters like David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito –fighters that applied pressure and who treated Pacquiao like the smaller man- did not. Because of the conflict in styles, Pacquiao becomes a completely different fighter once he’s in the ring with Marquez.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that Manny Pacquiao will continue to look sensational against fighters who;

  • Are one dimensional and who always take the fight to their opponent
  • Have limited or no head movement
  • Possess very little in the way of hand or foot speed
  • Square themselves up when punching
  • Rely heavily on blocks and parries to defend attacks, as opposed to foot work and mobility
  • Load up with one big shot every time, looking to take their opponent’s head off
  • Remain flat footed and stationary

Conversely, Manny Pacquiao will always look less than his best against fighters who can;

  • Force their opponent into being the aggressor
  • Move off at angles so that their hips are always pointing towards their opponent’s and their opponent’s hips are always pointing away from them
  • Avoid an attack by using intelligent foot work
  • Can draw leads from their opponent’s by feinting
  • Land regularly and with just enough power so that their opponent respects them enough not to just walk right through them
  • Avoid spending too much time at mid-range
  • Neutralize a hand speed advantage through good timing and smart counter punching

Picking a winner here is no easy task. While Marquez will always have the ring acumen to bother Pacquiao, the same could be said of Pacquiao, whose speed, explosiveness, high volume attack and constant forward momentum always seems to go down better with the judges. Both fighters have talked of knocking the other out, but I can’t really see anything other than a 12 round fight this Saturday. For a knockout to take place in this fight, both fighters would have to venture away from what they’ve done in three fights against each other. They’d probably have to be someone they’re not.

For Pacquiao, this would mean instead of simply following Marquez around the ring, he’d have to block off the exits far better than he’s ever done in the past, while also showing a lot more patience instead of being lured into taking the lead every time Marquez drops a feint. Marquez’s ability to make Pacquiao over reach and fall short with his left hand because of intelligent foot work has continued to be Pacquiao’s biggest problem every time he steps into a ring with Marquez.

For Marquez, this would mean being less conservative. Even though many feel he should have been awarded at least one of the three decisions against Pacquiao, only Erik Morales has managed to defeat Pacquiao beyond doubt on American turf, and Morales was far more aggressive than Marquez has ever been against Pacquiao in doing so.

Despite what changes either man may or may not have made to their usual strategy, as soon as they begin clipping each other, they’ll likely revert back to what they know best. For me, that means we’re going to see more of the same on Saturday. Marquez will likely be on his back foot, circling to his left, waiting for Pacquiao to over commit with his left hand before coming in with sharp counters –namely right hands, left uppercuts and both of those shots in combination. Pacquiao, on the other hand, will likely be pressing the action, following Marquez around the ring before feinting and trying to catch him with his right lead /straight left attack.

I’m finding it nearly impossible to pick a winner in this one folks. For that reason, I’ll just leave it at this…Basically, I can’t envision anything other than a distance fight that could see either man walking away the winner.

Marquez’s defensive countering? Or Pacquiao’s constant aggression and high volume? Judges, what do you prefer?

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Former World Bantamweight Champion Richie Sandoval Passes Away at Age 63

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul Vanquish Overmatched Foes in Tampa

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

Paul and Serrano move on to bigger things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now it’s on to Katie Taylor.

Jake Paul KOs Mike Perry

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

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

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

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

Perry survived.

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

“I kind of expected that,” said Paul.

Perry was honest about the outcome.

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

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

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

Other Bouts

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

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

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

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

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

Prelim Bouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Esther Lin / MVP Promotions

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Featured Articles

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

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

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

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

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

Other Title Fight

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

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

Also

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

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

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

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

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