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WOODSY’S TOP TEN POUND FOR POUND LIST

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Lists aren’t usually my thing, but for some reason, I am in a list-y mood, so I’d like to present my own pound for pound list, the tip top top ten in the game today. These are the best and brightest of pugilists, in my humble opinion.

1) Floyd Mayweather: Nobody, I mean nobody on the planet weighing between 140 and 160 pounds beats the Floyd Mayweather (44-0) we saw on May 4th against Robert Guerrero. Getting back with dad was just what the doctor ordered, and that exhalation I heard from the Showtime offices, I do believe, was the suits happy that the trader version of Floyd has been junked, and the mover is still able to do his thing, which is: 1) don’t be hit and 2) hit. My pipe dream is still Mayweather and Andre Ward meet at 160 pounds, and Floyd goes into his first fight the underdog, but I know what you’re thinking there: Woods, get yourself to rehab, stat, because you’re clouded. Nobody currently in that 147-154 realm wins more than a couple rounds against this Floyd, at 36 still a top-tier athlete possessing some of the best ring generalship and ring smarts you will ever see, in any era, at any weight class.

2) Andre Ward: Too bad Ward (26-0) had wing woes, because I was real curious to see what he’d do next after giving Chad Dawson the business. I do hope the injury parade comes to a halt for the Californian, so we can enjoy an uninterrupted flow of pugilistic mastery from this ace technician. I think he’s got command of his style to the point where he can safely and smartly unleash volleys without worrying too much, and I think moving forward those who have whined that Ward isn’t enough fun offensively will be silenced. Anyone got the word on who he fights next, by the way?

3) Bernard Hopkins: OK, start the quibbling, crew. Maybe there are one, two or more guys who “deserve” to be higher on this list. But they ain’t 48 frickin years old. Damn right, I give extra credit for longevity. The nullifying job he did against Tavoris Cloud sent word to naysayers that to bet against Hopkins, this era’s top sage of the squared circle, and an under-appreciated genius in the whole of the sports world, is a fool’s errand. He meets Karo Murat, a virtual unknown, next. I’d rather he try and show us all we’re dopes, again, by signing on to fight Ward, but I hear that Hopkins (53-6-2) himself thinks that’s too high a mountain to climb. I’d like to dose him with sodium pentathol to ascertain if that is indeed the case…Because I think he’d grab a chance to climb another Everest.

4) Guillermo Rigondeaux: Mea culpa. My bad, gang. I was holding out on Rigo, waiting to see what he did against Nonito Donaire before I boarded the train. Is there room left for a late-comer? The 12-0 Cuban is serious trouble for anyone in and around his weight class, and to those who say his chin disqualifies him from being this high on the P4P list, to that I say, he might go down every now and again, and get buzzed too much for your liking, but the kid gets up, and finishes strong. Yes, the manner in which he does it doesn’t appeal to the masses as much as the purists, and I’d like to see him adjust his ratio of offense to defense a bit, but this 32-year-old is an ace, a top flight ace, and I don’t see who beats him in the near future.

5) Nonito Donaire: Some folks saw it coming, what Rigo did to Nonito (31-2), but most of them are in the camp of Team Rigo. The Filipino-born Cali resident wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen, and it emerged after his bout that his right shoulder was badly damaged going in to the NYC scrap against the Cuban. No shame on losing to the greatest amateur of all time who showed himself to be a master of the game on the inside, the outside, and every side possible. I tend to think the 30-year-old Donaire was in fact a bit burnt, and needs a good long rest, and we will again see his immense skill set in full bloom. Oh, and yes, I’d like to see how he does against Rigo with his main weapon against the lefty, his right hand, in proper working order.

6) Wladimir Klitschko: Got to give mucho credit to a guy who hasn’t lost since 2004. Yes, the era in which he fights in, absent him and his big bro, is pretty putrid. But the completely dominant way in which he does his thing demands that the 37-year-old Wlad (60-3) get lauded for what he is: a superb athlete whose focus is second to none in the sport.

7) Vitali Klitschko: We’re still not sure if he’d lose to little bro Wladimir, and show the world that he’s the better brother, and of course, we will never settle that question. But this 41-year-old is a pugilist specialist, even if he looks slightly ungainly doing his thing. Wlad has been the busier of the brothers, with political work detracting and distracting Vitali (45-2). We hope he gives David Haye the business before he hangs them up, and starts his Hall of Fame countdown.

8) Manny Pacquiao/Juan Manuel Marquez (tied): C’mon, these two are linked for the ages, what’s the problem with having them tied for eighth. Marquez (55-6-1; turns 40 in August) was having his hands full before he dropped and stopped Manny (54-5-2; turns 35 in December), and we all recall how hard a time he had when he met Floyd, so that’s why he isn’t higher. Manny doesn’t get booted from the top ten for the Bradley “loss” or being stopped by the 39-year-old Mexican legend, but he’ll get the boot if Brandon Rios beats him. Course, if that happens he’d have to seriously consider retirement, so Woodsy’s Pound For Pound List would be like, third or maybe fourth on his list of woes.

9) Sergio Martinez: This is a tough one for me. Perhaps I let a personal fondness for this class act influence me unduly. Or perhaps I am over-compensating for the fact that my personal fondness could be influencing me. That said, his late hiccup against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and his difficulty with non-superstar Martin Murray means Sergio (51-2-2) has something to prove in his next fight, and that his return to the P4P top five is by no means a given. He’s 38, injuries have been pesky and we admit we hope he can rest up, heal up, and show us that he belongs up there with the Floyd and the Wards.

10) Mikey Garcia/Abner Mares (tied): Points, again, for not having lost. Mikey is 31-0 and could well end up a few notches higher on this list by the end of the year, though his next foe, Juan Manuel Lopez, is seen in many circles as damaged goods, so a win over JuanMa won’t likely elevate Mikey that much, though the JuanMa name is a good one to have on the resume. Garcia is so solid, so composed, and I look forward to see him do his thing for many more years; he’s only 25 years old, and there’s room to blossom even more. As for Mares, again, being undefeated means something to me. Mares is 26-0, and has built up a solid resume against solid foes. He sent word that he isn’t the mauling brawler who strafed Joseph Agbeko’s groin every chance he could with his takeout of Ponce De Leon on the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard, and grew his buzz in a big way. Who would you like to see him fight next, if you are one who thinks No. 7 is too high for this 27-year-old, and you think we need more proof to give him such a lofty slot? Maybe he should be 10a and Mikey should be 10b? Discuss in the Forum.

Just Missed: Roman Gonzalez: Life ain’t fair, this we know. If the light fly division were more high profile, this guy would be a bigger name, and would get more credit for being 34-0.; Timothy Bradley: You would not get an argument from me if you think Provodnikov deserved the W over Bradley, so Bradley’s not in my top ten. Beat Marquez and he will vault.;Canelo Alvarez: He hasn’t tasted loss, but the margin of victory over Austin Trout keeps him out of the top ten.; Lamont Peterson: He’ll get top ten consideration, bigtime, with a great showing over Lucas Matthysse Saturday.; Adrien Broner: Get past Malignaggi, and we’ll talk, Mr. HBO.; Danny Garcia: I’m sold on the Philly boxer, but I need him to beat a prime 140 pounder before he slides into top ten territory. Chris John: 48-0 friends. That deserves consideration. But until this man demands the best competition, I’m afraid he won’t get the love and attention his record suggests it merits.

Follow Woods on Twitter, and offer up your own Top Ten Pound For Pound List.

 

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Erickson Lubin Wins, But Misplaced His Hammer

David A. Avila

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Erickson Lubin misplaced the hammer but found a way to victory over Terrell Gausha by unanimous decision in a slow-developing WBC super welterweight eliminator on Saturday.

Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs), a southpaw slugger, was unable to lower the boom on Gausha (21-2-1, 10 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. But he did enough in a tactical battle that only activated into a real fight in the later rounds.

Back and forth the two super welterweights mostly feinted and fired blows at each other’s guard. Few managed to pierce for scoring blows and those that landed were mostly to the body.

“It was a chess match. I respected what he had, he was trying to counter what I had. My trainer was telling me to be cautious and not get hit with anything stupid,” said Lubin, whose trainer is the respected Kevin Cunningham.

Gausha, 33, was the more accurate puncher but fired less than Lubin. Though he seemingly scored more often with counter rights, the scarcity of his blows allowed Lubin to control the pace of the fight.

It wasn’t until the mid-rounds that Gausha stepped into a slightly quicker pace. In the 10th, a short right connected and wobbled Lubin who covered up.

“I knew I had hurt him, but he was able to recover,” said Gausha, 24, who tried to finish off the hurt fighter but was unable to land another scoring blow.

“I’m in shape and I was able to recuperate,” Lubin revealed.

It was still unclear who was winning the fight. In the 12th and final round Lubin stepped up the pace and connected with a crisp right hook that clearly snapped the head of Gausha. But he fought his way out of the dangerous corner.

After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Lubin 115-113, 116-112, 118-110.

“Gausha is a tough competitor, he’s at the top for a reason,” said Lubin. “I feel I beat one of the top 154s and I’m going to keep doing that.”

Gausha was classy in defeat.

“I take my hat off to Erickson Lubin. He was the better man tonight,” said Gausha.

Lubin now awaits the winner between Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario who fight each other next week for the WBC, WBA and IBF super welterweight titles. Showtime will provide the title match on pay-per-view.

Featherweights

Former IBO featherweight titlist Tug Nyambayar (12-1, 9 KOs) floored Cobia Breedy (15-1) twice in the first two rounds but struggled the rest of the way to win by split decision. One judge scored it 115-113 for Breedy and two others for Mongolia’s Nyambayar 114-112 and 114-113.

Nyambayar knocked down Breedy with a counter right cross in the first round and then floored him with four rights and a left hook in the second. After that, Breedy was the busier fighter and no one was able to take control.

“Boxing is boxing. It was a tough fight,” said Nyambayar.

Welterweights

In a solid match Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) was able to find out exactly where he stands against real competition and stopped the unstoppable Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1, 21 KOs) in the sixth round by technical knockout in their welterweight showdown.

More than just a knockout win, Ennis discovered that he can indeed take a punch from an elite level puncher.

Nobody questioned whether Ennis had boxing skills or athleticism and power, but nobody knew if he could take a punch. They discovered it as Abreu was able to connect in the fourth and fifth rounds. The Dominican fighter pulled out his tricks and connected several times with sneaky rights and lefts. Ennis remained standing.

Abreu was looking to trade bombs with Ennis in the fifth and sixth round and paid the price in getting delivered to the canvas with a pretty right counter uppercut. He survived. But in the sixth a slew of punches along the ropes sent him down again. He beat the count again but during a fierce exchange he was floored a final time at 1:06 of the sixth round. It was the first time Abreu had ever been stopped.

“I feel I put on a wonderful show and got the knockout,” said Ennis. “I feel I showed the division I am here.”

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Fast Results from the MGM Bubble: Pedraza Outclasses Molina Plus Undercard

Arne K. Lang

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The featured bout on tonight’s card at the MGM Bubble was a match between 2008 Olympians. It was a competitive match on paper, but Jose Pedraza turned in one of the better performances of his career while turning away Javier Molina who just wasn’t in Pedraza’s league tonight. The fight went the full 10 with the judges voting for the Boricua by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 twice. A former two-division belt-holder who looked very comfortable in his second start at 140, Pedraza boosted his record to 28-3. Molina, who had won five straight coming in, falls to 22-3.

Pedraza was manhandled by Gervonta Davis in 2017, outclassed by Vasyl Lomachenko in 2018, and upset by Jose Zepeda last year, but showed tonight that he still has plenty of mileage left on his odometer. Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez each own two pieces of the 140-pound title, but Pedraza seems to have found a new gear at age 31 and is nipping at their heels. However, Pedraza also hankers to renew acquaintances with Zepeda and that will likely come first.

In the 10-round heavyweight co-feature, Efe Ajagba’s higher workrate carried him to a 10-round unanimous decision over Jonathan Rice. The scores were 98-92 and 99-91 twice.

Ajagba, the Houston-based Nigerian making his first start under the Top Rank banner, advanced his record to 14-0 (11) but was underwhelming. Rice, the terror of Tijuana taxi drivers, fell to 13-6-1 and solidified his reputation as a useful gatekeeper.

Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Cuba who now resides in the Miami area, improved to 5-1 with a unanimous 8-round decision over Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo (13-3-2). Both appeared on the inaugural MGM Bubble card with Caraballo, fighting for the first time in the U.S., suffering a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of Shakur Stevenson. Tonight’s uneventful fight saw Ramirez on cruise control as he won by scores of 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

San Bernardino junior middleweight Leo Ruiz improved to 8-0 with a 6-round unanimous decision over Cancun’s Rodrigo Solis (4-5-1). Both fighters had a point deducted in round five; Ruiz, 21, for low blows and Solis for spitting out his mouthpiece. The scores were 58-54 and 59-53 twice.

In a fight that wasn’t on the original schedule, Houston super middleweight Christian Montano improved to 10-0 (7) with a 6-round unanimous decision over St. Louis’ Ryan Adams (7-4-1). A three-time national amateur champion, Montano, who is of Columbian descent, had knocked out seven of his previous opponents in the opening round. He looked poorly conditioned tonight but yet won every round on two of the scorecards.

Lightweight Bryan Lua, who hails from the town of Madera in central California’s agricultural belt, returned to the ring after a 27-month absence and scored a one-punch knockout over Chile’s Luis Norambuena. A left hook did the damage, bringing the bout to a sudden conclusion at the 2:27 mark of round two. Lua, (6-0, 3 KOs) won two of three over Ryan Garcia as an amateur. It was a quick turnaround for Norambuena (4-7-1) who lost a 4-round decision in this ring last week.

The first two bouts on the card showcased the newest members of Top Rank’s “Kiddie Corps.” Kasir Goldston and Jahi Tucker, 17-year-old welterweights, launched their pro careers on a winning note.

Goldston, a southpaw from Albany, NY, opened the show with a 4-round unanimous decision over Wisconsin’s Isaiah Varnell (3-3). The scores were 40-36 and 39-37 twice.

Tucker, who trains in the same Long Island town that spawned Buddy McGirt, put away Alabama’s Deandre Anderson (1-2) in the opening round. Anderson came out winging, but the precocious Tucker picked him apart. Referee Robert Hoyle stepped in and stopping the mismatch at the 2:56 mark. As an amateur, Tucker was ranked #1 at 138 pounds while still a sophomore in high school.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 105: Angry Welterweights and More

David A. Avila

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Those welterweights don’t play.

One welterweight just got out of jail and wants to take out his angry frustrations in the boxing ring.

“One of us is getting knocked out. If it gets to where I’m behind on points, I’m just going to come forward and try to take him out, even if I end up getting knocked out,” said Juan Carlos Abreu. ““If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want.”

Standing in front of Abreu (23-5-1) will be one of the top welterweights in America, Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs). This is could be Ennis’ first true test against an experienced foe on Saturday Sept. 19, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Showtime will televise the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Ennis, 23, has been breezing easily since first jumping in the prize ring in April 2016. So far, the competition has been unable to cope with the athleticism he possesses. Will Abreu be the first to pose a problem?

“Whatever he brings, we are going to be ready. I’m going to go out there, do my thing, be smart, have my fun, and get that stoppage at the end of the night,” said Ennis, whose last opponent Bakhtiyar Eyubov was eliminated in four rounds in January. “You can’t just go in there and go for the knockout. That’s how you get tired and lose your cool or even get hit with punches that you shouldn’t be getting hit with.”

Abreu hopes he loses his cool.

“If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want. I really want one of us to get knocked out,” says Abreu of the Dominican Republic who was purportedly jailed for street fighting.

This welterweight matchup is the precursor to the WBC super welterweight eliminator between Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs).

Gausha and Lubin both have lost once in their pro careers and need a win to get another crack at a world title.

Gausha lost a decision to Erislandy Lara three years ago. Lubin was stopped in one round by Jermell Charlo three years ago. Both realize the nature of the beast.

“I think Gausha has some problems with southpaws, but I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on my game plan and coming out victorious Saturday night,” said Lubin, 24, a southpaw called “the Hammer” for a reason.

Gausha is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but trains in Southern California and has fought four elite southpaws in his career. He believes one more is not a problem.

“This will be my fourth southpaw in a row. So, I’m more comfortable and familiar this time around,” said Gausha, 33, a former US Olympian who trains with Manny Robles Jr. “The guys before me, they all fought each other. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran. They all fought each other. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And you can see that the fights I take, even after a long layoff, they are tough fights.”

Top Rank

Also, on Saturday Sept. 19, heavyweights and super lightweights lead a Top Rank card featuring some interesting bouts that will be shown on ESPN+.

Newly acquired Efe Ajagba (13-0,11 KOs) meets Jonnie Rice (13-5-1) in a 10-round heavyweight clash. It’s Nigeria’s Ajagba’s second fight this year. Though still a little raw he shows immense potential and great natural strength.

Rice fights out of Bones Adams’ Gym in Las Vegas and has some power. He built up his record on heavyweights in Tijuana boxing rings but has some pop. He’s a sizeable heavyweight and good measuring stick for Ajagba.

The main event is a doozy.

Puerto Rico’s Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) meets Southern California’s Javier Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight bout at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas.

This should be good.

Pedraza, 31, is a former WBO lightweight world titlist who lost in his first defense to Vasyl Lomachenko. Nothing bad about that. He defeated Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran for the belt and has shown a penchant for showing up big when you least expect it.

Molina, 30, is a 2008 US Olympian and a member of the fighting Molina family. His brother Oscar was a member of Mexico’s 2012 Olympic team. His other brother Carlos fought for the world title against Amir Khan. Though Javier Molina has never shown great power, he can truly fight.  His last win came against Amir Imam this past February.

Pending Lightweight Clash

Speaking of the lightweight division, is anyone else as excited as me about the looming showdown between the remarkable Vasyl Lomachenko and impressive Teofimo Lopez coming in less than a month?

Lomachenko, 32, the Ukrainian stylist known as “Hi Tech,” has that incredible footwork and ability to control distance. He’s a master of frustrating opponents and imposing his style of darting in and out of danger. But as good as he is, he can’t sell tickets. Only hardcore fans appreciate his peerless boxing skills.

Lopez, 23, hails from Brooklyn and has that ex-factor you can’t teach. He’s pizzazz and panache with a punch. That combination of flair and power excites fans and seemingly makes him a natural gate attraction. But in spite of his electric abilities, he’s facing a master boxer. Is he ready?

Top Rank is known for having a team of matchmakers headed by boxing wizard Bruce Trampler. It makes me wonder why they are pitting these two against each other?

The probable answer: neither sells out an arena alone. May the best man win.

A friend of mine from East L.A., who formerly boxed and comes from a boxing family, shared his knowledge and opinion on the matchup. He has an interesting take.

“His footwork is incredible,” said George Rodriguez about Lomachenko. “Don’t get me wrong, Teofimo is an incredible talent, but Lomachenko has that footwork.”

Any way you look at it, the winner of this clash clearly bumps up his own image.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) versus Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on October 17. Mark down that date. It will be televised on ESPN.

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