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Rumble on the Rio Grande



Rumble on the Rio Grande

Rumble on the Rio Grande – It was a fistic carnival like none before it. More than three hundred souls stood with mouths wide while Judge Roy Bean readied the trains for a return. The trek had been far. The bulk of them had travelled over sixteen hours on dust-filled, rocky terrain from El Paso, which was hard going in 1896 even for wondrous steam engines.

This cult of punchers was hoping to see heavyweights Bob Fitzsimmons and Peter Maher etch another torrid brawl into the marbled halls of Fistiana. Instead, the rough and tumble men, who had paid roughly thirty-two dollars apiece (train ride plus fight ticket) for the privilege of becoming lawfully lawless hobos, bore witness to one of the fastest ending prizefights in heavyweight boxing history.

A sharp left hook by Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons had spun poor Peter Maher down to the hard canvas at just one minute thirty-five seconds of round number one. Oh miserable brood of oddities, thy name is boxing.

This is the story of how it came to be.

“Law West of the Pecos”

Law in Texas (especially the sparsely populated western parts of Texas) was different back then. This was particularly true of the law handed down by Justice of the Peace, Roy Bean of Val Verde County. Bean, proclaiming himself the “Law West of the Pecos,” doled out a myriad of unorthodox sentences from his very own saloon, The Jersey Lilly.


Like most historical giants of Texas folklore, Bean wasn’t born there. He emerged in this world from humble beginnings in the blue hills of Kentucky. Born there sometime in the 1820s, young Roy Bean grew up a passionate hothead. By the time he was a young man, he had been involved in several duels and gun fights, going so far as to get himself sentenced to a hanging for one of them. Luckily for him, the rope used to stretch Bean’s neck that day wasn’t quite fit enough for the purpose, so he managed to stay alive long enough so the woman he had dueled for could cut him down.

Bean calmed a bit afterwards, eventually settling in San Antonio where he became a prosperous (and by most accounts legitimate) business man. Rogue spirits die hard, though. Soon, Bean was making his way to the seventy-five person, small western Texas conclave he helped found. He named the town Langtry, for a famous actress of the era whom he did not know but found adorable. It was here Bean became famous as a Justice of the Peace. Bean’s rulings ranged from amusing to despicable. He once fined a dead body the forty dollars found with it to help bury it, and he freed the killer of a rail worker simply because the latter was Chinese and the killer was not.

Still, travelers passing through Langtry often made a point of stopping to visit his ramshackle saloon, and when Judge Roy Bean sent out word he was hosting a heavyweight prizefight between Bob Fitzsimmons and Peter Maher, plenty of punch-lovers were interested in attending.

A Traveling Hoard

Like all boxing promoters, Judge Roy Bean was equal parts showman and opportunist. When Governor Charles A. Culberson and the Texas Legislature joined the burgeoning number of western states to ban boxing exhibitions in 1895, a proposed bout being put together by Dallas promoter Dan Stuart between reigning heavyweight champion James J. Corbett and emerging rival Bob Fitzsimmons was put on ice. Corbett used the time to reflect, and when he saw Irish boxing champion Peter Maher starch his sparring partner in just one round, the man who defeated the great John L. Sullivan in the first heavyweight championship fight under Marquis de Queensbury rules, decided to call it quits. No doubt driven by his intense hatred of Fitzsimmons, Corbett named Maher the rightful heir to his championship. The fight was off.

Bob Fitzsimmons was livid. He immediately challenged Maher to decide the championship, feeling confident he could beat the Irishman as he had done in their previous encounter four years earlier. To his credit, Maher accepted the challenge, and the proposed fight promotion in Texas was right back on again, only lacking a lawful venue to host it.

There were some outlandish suggestions. One such suggestion would have had the two men fight in a hot air balloon (however that would work) high above Texas jurisdiction where those pesky Texas Rangers couldn’t follow. Cooler heads prevailed.

Citizens in El Paso came up with fifteen thousand dollars to bring the fight to their far west Texas bordertown where the idea was to stage the event across the border in Juarez, Mexico. As fight night approached, though, so did law enforcement authorities. U.S. Marshals and Texas Rangers were bolstered by one hundred fifty Mexican soldiers in Juarez, all sent in a coordinated effort by the U.S. and Mexican governments to block the event from happening.

Not to be outwitted or outdone, Bean and Stuart hatched a plan. They spread word for all interested parties to meet at the rail station in El Paso at a designated time. Most people believed the train was headed all the way across the giant state of Texas to Galveston (almost 800 miles), where they would be transported onto a large enough vessel to stage the fight on International waters via a boat somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, Bean had the train stop in his little town of Langtry, and when the weary travelers exited the train, they were pointed toward a makeshift fighting ring set atop a lonely sandbar beach on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

The fight would take place on a river.

In the Corners

Bob Fitzsimmons was born in Helston, Cornwall (England) in 1863. He emigrated with his family as a child to New Zealand where he grew into the trade of blacksmithing. He learned to box under veteran bare-knuckler Jem Mace, and is generally considered by historians as one of the finest fighters who ever lived.


Ruby Robert, as he was called, was dubbed by one contemporary writer “a fighting machine on stilts.” He was a pale, ruddy man with thin legs and a broad back. He had bright red hair around his balding top, and he fought in a herky-jerky motion that was both difficult to prepare for and hard to defend against. Fitzsimmons was not your typical heavyweight. Sure, he was rough and tough as nails and hit like a mule, but he carried only 167 pounds on his wiry frame. Instead of relying on sheer size, Fitz bested his opponents with a hard heart and heavy hands.

Fitzsimmons was a three-division champion when it actually meant something. He defeated Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey for the middleweight crown in 1891. After his tussle in Texas, he’d go on to win the lineal heavyweight championship against an unretired (and livid) James J. Corbett before capturing the light heavyweight crown in 1902. He is, perhaps, peerless in this regard.

His opponent on the river that day was hard luck Peter Maher. Maher was born in Galway, Ireland in 1869. He matched Fitzsimmons in height at 5 feet 11¾ inches and tipped the scales fifteen heavier at 180 pounds. He embodied the fabled luck of the Irish (or lack thereof) in that he never seemed to catch a break. He may have been the Irish heavyweight champion before he ventured to America five years earlier, but records remain fittingly unclear on the matter. Boxing historian Bob Mee describes Maher as a more-than-just competent fighter with “as fine a right hand punch as any.”


Maher’s lack of success stemmed from both his proverbial bad luck as well as a temperament that just couldn’t prevail when times got tough. Followers of Maher insist he could defeat any man he could hit, but that his heart wasn’t nearly as fierce as his tremendous right hand.

Perhaps that’s unfair. Maher was good enough in his career to defeat notable tough guys George Godfrey, Frank Craig and Joe Choynksy. He drew with Tom Sharkey in a rip-roaring affair but he never quite achieved success when it mattered most.

It would be no different on the Rio Grande.

The Fight

The train from El Paso arrived on scene at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was met by another train with almost 200 more travelers hailing from the likes of Del Rio and Eagle Pass. When the doors opened, Fitzsimmons and his team were quick to burst out the door and survey their surroundings.


There it was. The night before, forty-two men had worked until the wee hours of the morning to furnish the sandy beach on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande with a suitable fighting ring. Surrounded by a canvas fence some 200 feet in diameter, the ring itself was nothing more than a hard, boarded floor with a resin-topped canvas. It had the appearance of a Spanish bull ring save for the four-post, roped boxing epicenter. Judge Roy Bean had a footbridge built to carry the travelers over, but it didn’t keep attendees from stumbling around on stony ground and wading into knee-deep waters.

Fitzsimmons was first to enter the fray. Maher followed five minutes after. Both men wore different make and model gloves of slightly different hues but no matter, these were of the five ounce variety used by larger men in tougher times. There were no boxing commissions or sanctioning authorities on this day. Referee George Siler would call the fight as he saw fit, should it come to it. It wouldn’t.

There was a scuff-up between Fitzsimmons and Siler before the bout began. Fitzsimmons’ manager, Martin Julian and Siler argued the whereabouts of payment before Ruby Robert interrupted. “Oh let it go, we have given into everything and we will give into this,” he snarled from his chair with the cold glaze of impending battle in his eyes.

The fighters were readied by their seconds. Paid ringsiders lined the canvas wall which was meant to keep non-paying eyes from watching but failed at it miserably. The ring itself was surrounded by higher ground, so the more astute travelers took advantage of the discount the view provided them. Among the leather faced tramps and hard-gazing eyes of fight watchers perched among the cliffs were twenty-six Texas Rangers. Each man was heavy-laden with cartridges, pistols and rifles. They had no jurisdiction here, though, so all they could do was enjoy the fight. It was a relief.

Fitzsimmons wore dark blue trunks. Maher’s were funeral black. They wore similar style shoes, darkened and dingy from the travel. Fitzsimmons paced confidently about the corner like a lion before the bell was rounded at ringside by a ball-peen hammer. Maher was silent and still until the echo of the ringing stopped. It was time.


The two met in the center of the ring. Fitzsimmons led with a left jab and followed it up with his jerky, strong right hand. He moved Maher to the corner with the punch, but Maher used his considerable strength to tie Ruby Robert up before landing a sharp right hand in the clinch. The two men were separated; Fitzsimmons flashed a smile that appeared more like a scowl. Maher was undeterred. He walloped Fitz on the neck with his left. The two then began fighting in close quarters. Again, Maher got the better of it, this time drawing ruby red blood from Bob Fitzsimmons’ lip with a sharp, quick uppercut.

Fitz appeared bothered. He began to give ground as this blood dripped down his chin with Maher in hot pursuit. Maher with a right and a left and a right. He was winning. The two men clinched again, Maher landed a couple more sharp blows. Fitzsimmons retreated.

Finally, the end was here, though neither man knew it. Fitzsimmons had escaped another clinch and stepped back hard. Maher barreled in with a left hand, but this time Ruby Robert wasn’t there. He sidestepped the approach and landed a looping right hand that stretched poor Peter Maher down, out and to the canvas. Maher staggered on his knees a bit as his seconds screamed for him to get up, but it was far too late. As the referee counted Maher out, Fitzsimmons snarled at him from his corner. “It’s all over,” he said. “He’s out.”

Maher slumped to the floor a beaten man. Fitzsimmons was the victor after just one minute and thirty-five seconds of fighting. The fight was over.

A Puff of Smoke

The fight may have been over, but the promotion was not. Judge Roy Bean had ordered an extra shipment of spirits to arrive in town that day, so the hours spent waiting for the six o’clock return trains were well paid for by the riverbed’s parishioners. Drinks were sold at one dollar piece, a hundred percent mark-up for Judge Roy Bean and his promotional partners. Despite it, the event was not a success financially. Bean and Stuart were relying on film earnings from the fight to make it to the black, but the Edison kinetoscope operator was still tinkering with his equipment when Maher hit the floor.

One particular sojourner that day, a tremendous fight aficionado who had traveled all the way from New York to El Paso to Langtry to see witness battle in person, left with perhaps the most interesting story to tell.

He had shelled out a small fortune to make the trek to Langtry on Judge Roy Bean’s train. He arrived with the fighters, the media, the fight fans and the Texas Rangers filled with excitement. He stumbled across the rocky footbridge, slogged through the muddy waters of the Rio Grande and tripped his way inside the canvas fence. He made it down to his twenty dollar ringside seat just in time to see it. He had made it! The bell was sounding. He reached inside his dusty coat pocket for a ceremonial victory cigar. He dropped it into the sand, but quickly picked it back up before any damage could be done. He struck one match, then two. The third caught fire and he lit his cigar. It was a celebration. At last, our friend turned to the man on his right to express his excitement about the upcoming fracas.

“It’s over! He knocked him out,” the man next to him screamed in his ear, seemingly unaware that billow of smoke coming from the man who had turned to him was no longer coming only from the cigar.


This essay is dedicated by the author to Joe Bible, fellow Texan and good friend, who passed away on December 27, 2012. I will see you across that river someday.


“Bob Wins the Belt.” The Wichita Daily Eagle 22 Feb. 1896, morning ed.: n. pag. Print.

Braudaway, Doug. “The Fitzsimmons-Maher Prizefight.” Val Verde County Historical Commission, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2012.

Cozzone, Chris. “New Mexico Office of the State Historian : Clash of Politics and Pugilism in New Mexico.” New Mexico Office of the State Historian : Clash of Politics and Pugilism in New Mexico. New Mexico State Record Center and Archives, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2012.

“Fitzsimmons Is Champion.” New York Times 22 Feb. 1896: n. pag. Print.

“Judge Roy Bean Dies.” A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2012.

Katz, Bob. “Judge Roy Bean (DesertUSA).” DesertUSA. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Dec. 2012.

McCallum, John Dennis. The World Heavyweight Boxing Championship; a History. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book, 1974. Print.

Mee, Bob. The Heavyweights: The Definitive History of the Heavyweight Fighters. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus, 2006. Print.

“The Roped Arena.” Los Angeles Herald 20 Jan. 1896, morning ed.: n. pag. Print.

Stillman, Marshall. Great Fighters and Boxers: Psychology of the Ring : Including Some Very Interesting Stories Not Generally Known. New York: Marshall Stillman Association, 1920. Print.

Rumble on the Rio Grande



The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges



In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel


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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 8: Competing Cards in N.Y. and L.A.



Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”


Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?




Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

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