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Will The Chin Betray Manny Pacquiao?

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The chin is a mystery in this sport of ours.

You can’t teach a chin, can’t really strengthen it, though you can, it has been argued, shore up your chin by bulking up your neck muscles some, so when a punch lands, your brain doesn’t rattle in its pan as much.

The chin of Manny Pacquiao hasn’t been a mystery for all of his career, not until Juan Manuel Marquez landed a counter right from Hell, Hell in this case being the state of mind for Manny-iacs after their demi-God hangs up the gloves, at some time yet to be determined, and forever steps away from in-ring combat.

That Marquez blow dropped Pacquiao like he’d been Tased, and a viewer had to be concerned when Pacman lay on the canvas for a spell, out of it, his brain unable to reset and adjust after the traumatic impact.

Today, we fight fans wonder, and all the Manny-aics hope, that Manny’s chin hasn’t been fatally compromised, that his wiring hasn’t been altered irrevocably. We know that an athlete who suffers a concussion is often times more susceptible to suffering another, and some scientists argue, that athlete is even more susceptible to brain trauma following each concussion.

Pacman (seen above, with Brandon Rios, right, in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) has been stopped twice; the first time came in 1996, against Rustico Torrecamp. That third round finisher came via a left hand, maybe to the face, or to the body, it is impossible to see from the sub-par video floating around YouTube. The left (or was it a right, as is stated in the book “Pacman,” by Gary Andrew Poole?) sent the Filipino to the mat, where the ref reached a count of ten, and called a halt to the scrap. The TV caller yelled that Pacman’s eyes were crossed, and his body language suggested a reaction to a head shot more than a body shot, for the record. In the book “Pacman,” Poole says Pacquiao didn’t remember getting stopped right after it happened, and it took him 30 minutes to get to his senses and absorb the loss. That sounds like head trauma, not body, but the jury I suppose is still out.

In 1999, Pacman was again stopped, in round three, this time against Medgoen Singsurat. The video evidence on this occasion is more clear. A right lands to Manny’s body, as his back is to the ropes, and he hits the canvas. He’s on his knees, then belly, his face a mask of pain. He tries to get up and is just about there but the ref reaches ten, and waves his hands, signifying the end. In the Poole book, the author states that Pacquiao was weakened from a harsh weight cut, and was “exhausted and dehydrated” when the body blow scored.

All in all, Manny has been more than durable for many moons since those disappointments occured…

So…Did Marquez put Manny into a new danger zone? Will that Pacquiao chin now be quick to betray him?

It’s not hard, if you are not a Manny-iac, to ponder that perhaps the Marquez thundercrack left physical after-effects in Manny. The way he went down, rendered inanimate, dead weight, onto his face, the way his body lay, looking scarily lifeless. Lord, it looked not that unlike the reaction which flared when RKF was shot, what with the family and posse looking stricken and weepy and frenzied. “We have to ask, will Manny Pacquiao ever be seen in the ring agains?” HBO’s analyst Larry Merchant asked, while Pacquiao, a minute after being felled, lay on his back, eyes open but unfocused. Manny had cleared many of the cobwebs, it looked like, after 1:30 or so, all were happy to see. But we can’t know if there will be lingering effects, if a Brandon Rios punch could conceivably do a similar number on his brain.

I delved into the issue with another fighter with ties to the Philippines, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine,” Mark Munoz.

Mark-MunozMunoz (13-3), a 35-year-old California resident, showed zero doubt that Pacman will roar back on Nov. 23, and show any and all doubters that at 34 1/2, he’s by no means a has been.

“I know Manny, I know his character,” said Munoz, born in Japan, the son of two Filipino immigrants. “He came from humble begginings, I’ve seen the city he came from, he’s always had to fight. This fight with Rios is literally his life. He’s had to fight for his life, to survive. When it comes to adversity, he’s risen above on a number of occasions. This is not anything different.”

What does Munz think will do down in Macau? Not Pacquiao, right?

“I think in the fight versus Rios, we will see the champion inside of Pacquiao, see what he’s made of,” Munoz continued.

The MMAer, who is expected to take on Michael Bisping on Oct. 26, in a UFC on Fox promotion, has trained at Wild Card, seen Pacquiao up close, and measured him. Before the second fight with Erik Morales, Munoz was at Wild Card, and hung some with Manny and trainer Freddie Roach.

Is there a possibility, though, that Marquez broke something in Manny, if not his will, then the solidity of his chin? “I don’t think so,” Munoz said. “I’ve gotten knocked out twice in my career, and I came back stronger.” He won three straight after getting stopped via a head kick from Matt Hamill in 2009, and came back to beat Tim Boetsch in July, after getting stopped on strikes by Chris Weidman one year earlier. “It’s the way you train, and approach a fight, how well you feel inside,” Munoz said. “I think Pacquiao will come back against Rios more durable, and smarter. He walked into that punch from Marquez. I think (following the Marquez loss) Manny will be tougher.”

Follow Michael Woods on Twitter.

 

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

Arne K. Lang

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, was the site of the first pay-per-view boxing event in the United States since the Fury-Wilder rematch on Feb. 22. There were six fights in all, five of which were title fights and the other a title-eliminator. They were divided into two tiers but bundled into a package that cost approximately a dollar a round with a facile intermission tossed in at no extra charge.

The headline attraction of the first “three-pack” – and the most anticipated fight of the evening – found WBC world middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian gave Gennady Golovkin a hard tussle when they fought in November of last year at Madison Square Garden – GGG won a unanimous decision but the scores were tight and many thought Derevyanchenko deserved the decision – and the expectation was that tonight’s match would also be very competitive.  But it really wasn’t although the rugged Derevyanchenko rarely took a backward step.

The fight went the distance and there were no knockdowns, but Charlo buckled his knees at the end of round three and Derevyanchenko ended the fight with cuts above both eyes. The judges had it 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

With Canelo Alvarez apparently headed to 168 and GGG showing his age at 38, one can make a strong case that the undefeated 30-year-old Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is now the top middleweight in the world. Derevyanchenko, who was 23-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before turning pro, saw his pro record decline to 13-3 with all three losses in middleweight title fights.

The middle fight of the first tier was a lusty encounter between Mexican-American super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. Figueroa, one of two fighting brothers from the Mexican border town of Weslaco, Texas, was a huge favorite over Vazquez, a Colorado native who moved to Las Vegas as a freshman in high school and had fought extensively in Mexico where he made his pro debut at age 16. But Vazquez, the nephew of former three-time world super bantamweight title-holder Israel Vazquez, came to fight and gave a good effort until the fight turned lopsidedly against him.

In the middle rounds, Figueroa’s high-pressure attack began to wear Vazquez down. Vazquez had a few good moments in rounds six and eight, but when his right eye began swelling from the cut above it, he was fighting an uphill battle. He took a lot of punishment before referee Gary Rosato halted it at the 1:18 mark of round 10.

Figueroa, 23, successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title while improving his record to 21-0-1 with his 16th KO. Vazquez declined to 15-2-1.

The lid-lifter was a WBO bantamweight title defense by John Riel Casimero with Duke Micah in the opposite corner. Micah, from Accra, Ghana, came in undefeated at 24-0, but Casimero had faced a far stronger schedule and was a substantial favorite.

A Filipino who was been training in Las Vegas under Bones Adams, Casimero took Micah out in the third round. The Brooklyn-based Micah was somewhat busier in the opening frame, but the tide turned quickly in favor of the Filipino. Casimero hurt Micah with a left hook in round two and went for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish him, but Micah was on a short leash and referee Steve Willis was quick to step in when Casimero resumed his attack after the break. The official time was 0:54.

Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was defending the title he won last November with a third-round knockout of favored Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England. He was slated to fight this past April in Las Vegas against Naoya Inoue, but that fight evaporated as a result of the coronavirus. After the bout, Casimero called out Inoue (and others): “I’m the real monster,” he said. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Check back shortly for David Avila’s summaries of the remaining fights.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Mairis Briedis and Josh Taylor Impress on a Busy Fight Day in Europe

Arne K. Lang

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In the busiest weekend of boxing thus far in 2020, there were fights of note all over the map in Europe. The most compelling was held at the Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich where the long-delayed WBSS cruiserweight final pit IBF world cruiserweight title-holder Yuniel Dorticos against Mairis Briedis. Both had only one loss on their ledger, that coming in a semifinal of Season One of the WBSS tourney.

Heading in, Briedis was recognized as the more well-rounder boxer. Dorticos had a style somewhat similar to Deontay Wilder, meaning that he was over-dependent on his big right hand. It figured that Briedis would fight with extreme caution, using his faster hands and superior footwork to keep out of harm’s way, but to the contrary he wasn’t afraid to trade with Dorticos and actually landed the harder punches. At the end, he captured the IBF belt and the more coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy with a majority decision. The judges had it 117-111, 117-111, and a confounding 114-114.

The first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) is now a two-time world cruiserweight champion. He previously held the WBO cruiserweight belt, but vacated it rather than adhere to the organization’s mandate that he give Krzysztof Glowacki a rematch. (Their first fight, a TKO 3 for Briedis, was very messy and he was fortunate that he wasn’t disqualified.) Dorticos, the Cuban defector, returns to his adopted home in Miami with a 24-2 record.

Briedis, 35, may own only one piece of the world cruiserweight title, but at the moment he is clearly the topmost fighter in the division.

York Hall, London

Apinun Khongsong’s first engagement outside the Orient didn’t go well for him. The 24-year-old Thai boxer with an Muay Thai background was out of his element against WBA/IBF champion Josh Taylor who dismissed him in a hurry with a “solar plexus punch” that would have made Bob Fitzsimmons proud. The punch from the left-handed Scotsman sent Khongsong to the canvas writhing in pain and he was down for several minutes before he was able to stand upright. The official time was 2:41 of the opening round.

Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, was making his first start since October of last year when he won a 12-round majority decision over Regis Prograis in a Fight of the Year candidate. His next fight may be a full unification of the 140-pound belt with Jose Carlos Ramirez in the opposite corner. Both he and Khangsong entered today’s fight with 16-0 records, but Taylor, who scored his 13th knockout, was in a different league.

Undercard Bouts of Note

In a 10-round bantamweight contest, Charlie Edwards (16-1, 1 NC, 6 KOs) out-classed British countryman Kyle Williams (11-3). The referee awarded Edwards nine of the 10 rounds. Edwards, 27, previously held the WBC 112-pound title but was forced to relinquish it because he had trouble making the weight.

York Hall has been a jinx for David Oliver Joyce, the 33-year-old super bantamweight from Mullinger, Ireland, who is 0-2 in this building and 12-0 elsewhere. Joyce failed to last three rounds today in his match with Ionut Baluta. A Romanian who fights out of Bilbao, Spain, Baluta knocked Joyce down with a big left hook and then swarmed all over him when he arose, forcing the referee to intervene. The official time was 1:49 of round three.

It was the sixth straight win for Baluta (14-2, 3 KOs) and his third straight over a once-beaten opponent.

Riga, Latvia

Riga native Richard Bilotniks successfully defended his version of the European 175-pound title and advanced to the finals of the Golden Contract Light Heavyweight Tournament with a one-sided 10-round decision over Hosea Burton. A late bloomer who won only four of his first eight pro fights, Bilotnicks 30, won every round on one of the scorecards and eight rounds on the others to advance record to 17-5-1. Burton, who lost for the second time in 27 starts, let down his cousin Tyson Fury who flew to Latvia to cheer him on.

Struer, Denmark

At an arena in the city of Struer, hometown lass Dina Thorslund had a harder time than expected with Nina Radovanovic, but the Serb got no respect from the judges who didn’t see fit to award her a single round. Thorslund (15-0, 6 KOs) successfully defended her WBO world 122-pound title.

In the chief undercard bout, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (11-0, 9 KOs) moved a step closer to a world title opportunity with a second-round blast-out of late sub Alexandre Kartozia. There was no need to count when Hrgovic leveled Kartozia with a big right hand.

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Tony Yoka Makes Quick Work of Duhaupas; Yoka’s Wife Wins Too

Arne K. Lang

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An indoor rugby stadium in Nanterre, a township in an inner suburb of Paris, was the site today of a five-fight boxing show featuring Tony Yoka and his wife Estelle Mossely in separate bouts (when they fight each other, they do it in the privacy of their home). Attendance was limited to 5,000 with social distancing protocols in place.

Yoka and Mossely, the parents of two young children, the youngest a boy born in May, were each gold medal winners in boxing at the 2016 Rio games. The six-foot-seven Yoka defeated Filip Hrgovic in the semis and Joe Joyce in the gold medal round.

Today Yoka, in his first scheduled 12-rounder, was matched against 39-year-old French warhorse Johan Duhaupas who was 38-5 (25) heading in. Duhaupas went 12 rounds with Jarrell Miller, extended Deontay Wilder into the 11th frame, and knocked out Robert Helenius, the conqueror of Adam Kownacki. Despite his advanced age, he represented a step up in class for Yoka, 28, whose pro career was disrupted by a one-year suspension from the French Boxing Federation for being a no-show at three PED tests. At the very least, Duhaupas was expected to give Yoka some rounds.

But Yoka had other ideas. He needed only 121 seconds to dismantle his countryman and show that he belongs in the conversation with Daniel Dubois, Jared Anderson, the aforementioned Hrgovic and others when talking about the next generation of heavyweight stars.

Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) dropped Duhaupas midway through the opening round with an overhand right. Duhaupas didn’t appear to be badly hurt, but he had no antidote for the barrage that followed. The coup-de-gras was a big right uppercut that sent him flying backward against the ropes. The referee stepped in immediately.

Yoka’s U.S. promoter is Top Rank which is seeminly out to corner the market on bright young heavyweight prospects. When Yoka turned pro it was under the tutelage of Virgil Hunter, the trainer of Andre Ward. Yoka has spent considerable time in Las Vegas while serving as the chief sparring partner for Joseph Parker.

estelle

Estelle Mossely kept pace with her hubby. Mossely, 28, advanced her record to 7-0 (1) with an 8-round unanimous decision over countrywoman Aurelie Froment. The scores were 80-72 across the board.

This was an assignment designed to shed the rust. Froment, 33, entered the fight with a 3-0-1 record, but hadn’t previously met an opponent with a winning record. In fact, none of Froment’s previous opponents had ever won a fight. In the aggregate, the foursome was 0-32-5 at the time that she fought them. Even the world sanctioning bodies steered clear of this affair, refusing to cloak the fight in some sort of title.

That observation aside, it was a nice win for Mossely coming so soon after giving birth. Born in France of Congolese and Ukrainian descent, she is rated the world’s best active female lightweight by BoxRec.

Hot prospect Souleymane Cissikho was originally scheduled to be on the card, but pulled out for an undisclosed reason. An Olympic teammate of Tony Yoka, Cissikho is a  special talent.

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