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LANDSLIDE! Experts Predict Mayweather Over Canelo

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One of the best aspects of fight week during a mega event in boxing is all the predictions. Everyone has a take. That’s part of what makes boxing special. Fans, fighters, promoters, managers, historians — you name it. You ask them to give you a prediction about the big fight, and they’ll do it.

And that’s what I did. Here are 56 expert Mayweather-Canelo predictions from around the globe.

TSS CREW LIKES MAYWEATHER 12-1

Mayweather looked brilliant against Robert Guerrero, making The Ghost look like he’d seen a ghost. He will be just as ghostly for young Canelo, who is too flat-footed, too mechanical and too inexperienced to deal with the speed, agility and ring intelligence of Mayweather. Floyd by decision. — Ron Borges, TheSweetScience.com

Floyd Mayweather Jr. can look very, very good when he is at the top of his game, but his true strength is the same as Pernell Whitaker’s: he is even better at making the other guy look bad. It’s the same principle that was applied when puffed-up middleweight Roy Jones Jr. schooled WBA heavyweight champ John Ruiz. Canelo Alvarez is a rising star, but he hasn’t attained his career apex yet. There’s enough remaining of the best of Floyd to come away with another points victory. — Bernard Fernandez, TheSweetScience.com

I’m picking Mayweather by decision. He’s getting older and Canelo is young and can punch, but Mayweather still has some great tools and his experience adjusting to fighters’ styles will make a difference. I also have some doubts about the weight. Canelo might make it down, but that could take a lot out of him. And if he puts on 15 pounds overnight, he could be a little sluggish. — Rick Folstad, TheSweetScience.com

23-year-old Alvarez has incredible work ethic and the soul of a warrior, but I think Mayweather Jr. will be too fast and elusive. And let’s not forget the experience factor. Mayweather easily defeated some of the best in the business. Corrales, Cotto, Marquez and Hatton couldn’t topple Mayweather, and I don’t see Alvarez solving the Mayweather puzzle. I’m going with Mayweather via unanimous decision. — Ralph Gonzalez, TheSweetScience.com

While a Canelo win via stoppage would not come close to shocking me (his power is real, Floyd’s legs have slowed down considerably), I can see Floyd having his way with the youngster. He’ll have to move more than he did against Robert Guerrero, but I think he’ll land at will while constantly setting traps that Canelo doesn’t recognize. Floyd by UD 12, but not without some drama as Alvarez hurts him a few times throughout the fight. — Blake Hochberger, TheSweetScience.com

Mayweather is always the boss; it is his promotion, he gets the attention, money and has an aura of superstardom. These factors seem to convince opponents that they are inferior and can’t win. Miguel Cotto was one of the few who rose to the occasion, but I don’t think Canelo has the skills or resolve to improve on Cotto’s performance. Mayweather by clear decision in a man versus boy affair. — Ronan Keenan, TheSweetScience.com

The only way Canelo can win is if he can turn the bout into a street fight. It’s his only option. He can’t win by waiting and reacting or boxing, he must make Mayweather do what he doesn’t want to. I don’t think he’s capable (he’s not the puncher he’s been built up to be), and I’m not convinced that Alvarez won’t be compromised by having to weigh-in at 152 or less. And if Floyd wins this one, it’s a given he’ll retire undefeated and will be forgotten soon thereafter. Mayweather by UD. — Frank Lotierzo, TheSweetScience.com

Canelo can only win with a lucky punch, an Antonio Tarver/Roy Jones style knockout punch. A punch that Mayweather’s body doesn’t react to very well, even though he has taken similar shots thousands of times. I think Floyd does what he always does, but this time it will be in front of a hostile crowd. Mayweather wins by decision. –Ray Markarian, TheSweetScience.com

Mayweather has been the best in the business for a long time, but how much longer can he keep it up? Canelo is bigger, stronger and almost just as fast. I like Canelo in an upset by close decision. As the fight goes into the later rounds, the 23-year-old’s punches will simply be too heavy for the now 36-year-old Floyd Mayweather. — Kelsey McCarson, TheSweetScience.com

Mayweather by decision: Alvarez is young, strong, and hungry, but I don’t think that’s enough to overcome the hand speed and defensive skill of Mayweather. Canelo has the theoretical puncher’s chance, and there’s also the possibility of him being awarded a decision he doesn’t deserve, but more likely, I think Mayweather outboxes him and frustrates him as he has so many other opponents, pulling away from the middle rounds on for a decision win. — Eric Raskin, TheSweetScience.com

I’m not brave enough to go against the Money. Floyd is a master. Is he an all-time great, near the skill level of Sugar Ray Robinson? I don’t have a time machine and a promotional license, so really, who the hell knows? But I do know this…I think Canelo graduated to being an A minus fighter against Austin Trout. But I’d be more inclined to say he’s going to win more than three rounds on Sept. 14 if I didn’t see him fight so many sub-stellar rounds against Shane Mosley, Ryan Rhodes, Matt Hatton…I think Floyd’s movement will be so key, keep him away from the only danger zone of Canelo’s right hand. Floyd, comfy UD 12. — Michel Woods, TheSweetScience.com

Haven’t seen Mayweather live since ’08 and I’ve never seen Canelo, so this long distance call is based solely on prior Vegas handicapping trends. On paper it’s all Money. Alvarez hasn’t really even earned Ricky Hatton status, let alone De la Hoya territory, so I see Floyd as at least a 2 – 1 favorite. Still, (from close ringside) I thought Castillo deserved the nod in the first fight vs. Mayweather and Oscar (from far grandstands) earned at least a draw, so if Canelo is as strong as many think and maintains pressure, we could have a wild night. I doubt that. Mayweather takes the boy to old school. Floyd by TKO on accumulated damage. — Phil Woolever, TheSweetScience.com

While Mayweather may be a slowing bit, he has busted the myths of countless fighters who had much more power than him. At 36, he may not make Alvarez look foolish, but he can still manage him for 12 rounds. Mayweather by decision. — Aaron Tallent, TheSweetScience.com

 

OTHER MEDIA MEMBERS TAKE FLOYD 18-4

I think Canelo will win some rounds early, starting the fight aggressively as Mayweather carefully surveys his opponent. But as the fight progresses, Mayweather will use his legs and potshot to establish control of the fight. His movement and accuracy will keep Alvarez from having any sustained success in the later rounds. I think Mayweather wins 116-112. — Adam Abramowitz, Saturdaynightboxing.com

Canelo by split decision. If there is any Mexican fighter out there with the style to beat Floyd Mayweather that is Canelo Alvarez. He is strong, quick of hands, and is not your typical pressure fighter; he is a patient and smart boxer. By his employment of feints and his hard right, Canelo can take the fight to the bag as long as he varies his attack as he did with Trout. By taking Floyd out of his comfort zone, luring him to attack, Alvarez can counter Floyd and hurt him. Expect a controversial decision. — Eduardo Badillo, BoxPlatino.com

Canelo has two rounds to level Mayweather with a right hand, and boxing’s current landscape with him. After that, Mayweather will have him solved, and The One will deteriorate into The 45th. Mayweather will win by a split decision, divided between two accurate scorecards and a third filled-in during the flight from Mexico City. — Bart Barry, 15Rounds.com

Floyd “Money” Mayweather is 36 years old and expected to come into the ring around 150 lbs. On the other hand, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez may outweigh Mayweather by 15-20 lbs and is additionally 13 years younger. Obviously, Alvarez clearly has a major physical advantage, but will he know how to use it? And even if he knows the right thing to do, will he be able to do it? My guess: probably not…Unless Canelo can somehow discover the stamina to consistently work on the inside (mainly with hooks as Mayweather doesn’t lean in for the uppercut) or stay busy from long range (mainly utilizing lots of jabs) it’s going to be an easy fight for Money May. Personally I’m of the opinion that Alvarez does try to out box Mayweather from long range, but not with activity. I get the feeling the young man actually thinks he can fight at a modest pace and beat Mayweather with timing and subtle technique…Among previously listed attributes that Canelo lacks, he additionally doesn’t have the height, reach, reflexes or experience to win the kind of fight I’m envisioning…Mayweather by UD. — Ryan Bivins, Bad Left Hook

Mayweather’s advantages in speed, technique and experience — even at 36 — are just too potent against a fighter as green as Alvarez to solicit a prediction other than a victory by unanimous decision. But that doesn’t mean the fight will be a snoozer, as Canelo’s size, power and underrated ring intelligence will present enough resistance to create drama. Alvarez might go as far as scoring a flash knockdown, but in the end the brilliance of Mayweather’s mid-fight adjustments will be the storyline. — Brian Campbell, ESPN.com

I’m a Canelo believer, but I think this fight has come too soon in his development into a complete fighter. Though Alvarez has some heavy hands, he also has a bad habit of not letting them go often enough, and I expect that to play right into Floyd’s strengths. Mayweather will take this via comfortable decision, with Canelo looking bewildered by the eighth round. — Scott Christ, BadLeftHook.com

Mayweather by UD. The deck is stacked against Saul Alvarez in a number of different ways, and perhaps the only area where Canelo might have an advantage is size — hedged a bit by Floyd by way of catchweight. If Floyd Mayweather were more chinny, that might be an opening for Canelo to make up ground, but Floyd has shown that he can take a punch just fine when his excellent defense fails him. At the end of the day, Floyd Mayweather is a much better fighter with more high end experience, and much of Alvarez’ hope seems to hinge on the idea that Floyd might get old, and soon. — Patrick Connor, Queensberry-Rules.com

Canelo has size and age advantages and is capable of providing a challenge, and maybe even a scare or two. But if Floyd is still Floyd, I think the fight will be typical Mayweather fare. Floyd will make the necessary adjustments and win the decision. — John DiSanto, PhillyBoxingHistory.com

If you believe the marketing, you feel that Floyd Mayweather is aging, slowing down, and will be undersized when he steps into the ring against Canelo Alvarez, who is younger, larger and in his prime. Don’t believe the marketing. Mayweather remains faster, smarter and just plain better than Alvarez. Mayweather will either break Alvarez down for a late stoppage or score a decision victory in which wishful viewers grade Alvarez on a curve rather than on his actual performance. –David Greisman, BoxingScene.com

On paper, I don’t see how anyone could pick against Mayweather. He has all of the tactical, technical advantages over Alvarez to suggest a decisive victory. As for Canelo, it’s still debatable whether, physically, he’s a special fighter. But, mentally, the kid is cast iron tough and laser beam focused. That, alone, makes him dangerous — at least in terms of being able to execute a coherent game plan and not fall into a state of quiet resignation, like most Mayweather opponents do. Mayweather will have to be a bit more aggressive than is normally the case, but the logical prediction is Floyd via unanimous decision in the vicinity of 116-112 or 117-111.—Paul Magno, TheBoxingTribune.com

I am making a sizable wager on Carrot Top (btw, I gave him the nickname) to do the unthinkable, meaning topple Money May. I will be rich as soon as I get out of the mental institution. Seriously, I know it goes the 12-round limit. Canelo takes a split, controversial decision. Rematch looms even larger. – Michael Marley, Examiner.com

I am picking Mayweather by a unanimous decision. In order to be able to beat Mayweather you have to be able to cut off the ring on him. I don’t think Alvarez can do that. Also, he telegraphs that big right hand of his and Mayweather will see that one coming a mile away and tattoo him with his vaunted counter right. Also, you can’t be predictable and beat Floyd and much as I respect Canelo I think it will be relatively easy for Mayweather to figure him out and anticipate his punches and anticipation is everything with Mayweather. Mayweather will not take any chances with him — so don’t expect him to go for the KO if he is way ahead. –Gordon Marino, The Wall St. Journal

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” School’s in, kid. (Mayweather wins.) — Matt McGrain, Boxing.com

Canelo is going to test Mayweather for the early part of this fight. His size and power will see to that. But the young gun doesn’t have a big engine on a good day, let alone when he’s weight-drained by an extra two pounds. Mayweather will gradually take over, snap Canelo’s neck with his vaunted right hand and leave the Mexican with a coat of paint to match his hair. – Alex McClintock, Queensberry-Rules.com

Canelo is definitely the biggest, strongest and most physically imposing opponent of Mayweather’s long career, but there is nobody better than Floyd at finding a weakness and exploiting it. I expect the first-half of the fight to be close, and there to be some possibly dicey moments for Mayweather in the early rounds. But, as always, Floyd will figure out his man in the second half of the fight, and he’ll dominate a fading Canelo to win a unanimous decision. — Kevin McRae, BleacherReport.com

Mayweather will beat Canelo the way he beats everyone else. It will start off exciting, but the thrill will subside after five rounds with Mayweather pot-shotting Canelo at will en route to winning a unanimous decision. Canelo, like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., won’t lose any luster with the defeat. He will come back and beat all but the best. Mayweather is much too fundamentally skilled, mature and well trained for Canelo, who is made to order for him. Mayweather W 12. — Bob Mladinich, Boxing.com

Canelo TKO 11. Canelo has proven that he can play up to the moment, which tells me that on the biggest stage of his career we’ll see the outright best version of Canelo. The same can’t be said for Floyd, whose decline is much more apparent when his opposition is throwing back. Canelo is capable of earning a stoppage in the championship rounds by just being the cunningly aggressive, athletically charged Mexican fighter that he is. — Mario Mungia, ThaBoxingVoice.come

Youth versus experience. Tactics versus courage. Speed versus power; the list goes on. Canelo Alvarez will neutralize Floyd’s tactics and attack him to the body. The Mexican independence chant will be heard loud and proud after a close, unanimous decision. Luis Ortiz, HooksandHoops.com

Canelo will be competitive early, even if he doesn’t win the rounds. Mayweather adapts around the fourth, and controls the center of the ring for the rest of the fight. Mayweather by decision. — Matt Paras, Maxboxing.com

Let’s keep this simple because it is simple. Mayweather is faster, more experienced, and frankly better in every facet of boxing than Alvarez. The size advantage means nothing if you have no prayer of landing a meaningful shot against the defensive wizard Mayweather (not to mention even if Alvarez lands one lucky bomb Mayweather has shown he is no soft touch on the chin and can handle it as he did against Mosley). Floyd will box circles around Alvarez and uncharacteristic of his typical nature pounce on the demoralized and bruised Alvarez late in the fight for an 11th round stoppage. Enjoy the hype for this one, because the action will be all one-sided once the bell rings. — Gary Purfield, PhillyBoxingHistory.com

Everything I know about the history of fighting screams at me to pick Canelo. In many ways, it seems 36-year-old fighters were put on this Earth expressly for 23-year-old rising stars to feast upon. But Floyd Mayweather is different. He’s shown no signs of age or wear and I expect him to waltz to a lopsided decision. — Jonathan Snowden, BleacherReport.com

Mayweather is in for his sternest test since Jose Luis Castillo, which does not mean the fight will be competitive. Alvarez lacks the gas to pressure for twelve rounds, and the pedigree to outbox the best boxer on the planet; whatever wrinkles he introduces will be parsed by Mayweather, who has seen it all, in all its variations. Size, youth, and Mayweather’s patience might allow Alvarez to bank a few early rounds, but once Mayweather assesses the threat before him, he will neutralize it. Expect a closer fight on the cards than in the ring. Mayweather by UD. — Jimmy Tobin, TheCruelestSport.com

I had the chance to visit both Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez in their recent media workouts. Both looked solid, and in impeccable shape, but there was a clear supremacy. While Canelo is undeniably powerful – appearing fast, strong, and unfatigued – there is something about Floyd Mayweather that is overwhelming. Watching him up close at work is like nothing else. His confident mindset and tremendous skill seem unshakable. The only trouble I foresee is if Floyd is too concentrated on going for the knockout, as he has said he wants this time. If the ring was reduced to a 5′ x 5′, I might favor Canelo, but in the standard squared circle, Floyd Mayweather is at home. I don’t see a straight KO, and I think Canelo can escape the TKO, but on Saturday Floyd will prove once again that there is no fighter smarter than him. Mayweather (probably) by UD. — Stephanie Trapp, Trappfotos

FAN EXPERTS LIKE MAYWEATHER 5-3

Mayweather wins this one. His superb defense, his footwork, and his hand speed, will be too much for Canelo. — Eddie Cahill, Actor, @EddiePCahill

Canelo by UD. Canelo will put on relentless pressure and Mayweather will break his fists early trying to keep the bigger man at a distance. — Juan Francisco Garza, Medical Doctor, @JGarza6804

Mayweather by decision. Canelo will try to outbox Floyd and lose decisively. — Peter James Gonzalez, Undergraduate Student, @History_Pete

Floyd has finally agreed to fight a quality opponent who is in his prime. This mistake will take the 0 off his loss column. Alvarez will come out early landing shots and generally making Floyd look his age. As the fight continues, Floyd will begin to fight desperately and take a chance that gets him knocked out late. Canelo by KO in the 10th. — Matt Higginbotham, Baptist Minister, @MaHigginbotham

I think Canelo has some early success, even shakes Mayweather up, and maybe even scores a knockdown early. However, Mayweather will adjust and come back to put on another great boxing performance, picking his shots and landing combinations as Canelo tires down the stretch. The final is a UD win for Mayweather, who takes 8 out of 12 rounds. — Jimmy Lujan, Financial Consultant, @JL_N_LL

Saturday night will be a one-sided win. The question is: for who? Mayweather comes to the ring and shows us all nothing has changed—he’s fast, smart and hasn’t lost a step on defense. Canelo comes to the ring and shows us he’s the real thing—he’s fast, he’s strong, but most importantly he’s adept at adapting. I hate making predictions, but for The One I’ll do anything—Canelo by wide UD. Rachel McCarson, Amateur Boxing Photographer and Awesome Wife, @Rmac81

Canelo may have an edge in weight on fight night, but the advantage in height, length and strength could easily go to Floyd. Add in the fact that Canelo is only 23, just now learning to fight, and was actually an opponent built up by Floyd by way of having him on his undercards, and I see an easy UD or possibly a 9-10 round stoppage for Floyd. –Hadeer Zbar, Mortgage Banker, @HadeerZ

Canelo has all the tools to defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr. From reading articles, his strategy on how to defeat Jr. is the right one. The one concern is stamina. Does he fight with the same energy all 12 rounds, if needed? “The One” for me is Mayweather. But who knows how I feel on Sept. 14? — Mark, Undisclosed, @ThisIsNotMark

CHAMPS AND CONTENDERS TAKE MAYWEATHER 5-1

This is Canelo’s fight to lose. Mayweather has speed, Canelo has speed; Canelo has power, Mayweather has power if you follow him. Canelo has youth, Mayweather has none. Experience is good; punching power is better. Split decision for Canelo. – George Foreman, Former Heavyweight Champion

I think Mayweather’s skills, speed and intelligence will allow him to win. Canelo is strong and young, and he can win if he uses his strength, but I see Mayweather being smarter and winning a decision. – Mikey Garcia, Featherweight

Mayweather is a master of positioning in the ring–he has the smarts and skills to take his opponents’ strengths away, and he trains for the strength and finesse needed to consistently “check-mate” his opponents for 36 minutes (if they last that long). Canelo has brought a different game in every fight and has shown the ability to make his previous opponents uncomfortable in the ring. It’s about “who” shows up when that bell rings in front of the thousands in the arena, LIVE in front of millions worldwide. Whoever is the most physically AND mentally prepared will win, and I question if Canelo can handle a skillful Mayweather who is not afraid and will make Canelo fight for every opportunity in the allotted 36 minutes. I’ll take Mayweather. — Ana Julaton, Super Bantamweight

I like Floyd Mayweather by twelve-round unanimous decision. — Erislandy Lara, Junior Middleweight

I pick Mayweather. If this fight happened a year from now then maybe Alvarez but right now I still think Floyd has enough to beat him. – Andy Lee, Middleweight

I do believe because of politics, and Floyd’s style, it will be a majority split decision for Floyd. He is a very smart counter puncher, and a cleaned up version of Bernard Hopkins when it comes to the “hit and not get hit concept.” BUT I’d like to see how Floyd handles Canelo’s strength and power. I can see a surprise KO. – Kaleisha West, Bantamweight

BOXING BUSINESS FOLK PICK MAYWEATHER 5-1

Mayweather wins. Floyd is one of the greatest counterpunchers in boxing history and an all time great. — Lou DiBella, Promoter, DiBella Promotions

Mayweather by UD. The only real doubts for me are if Mayweather suddenly gets old and the abnormally short (for FMJ) time between this fight and the Guerrero fight. Activity is good for a young fighter; it may not be good for a vet in his late 30s that is accustomed to time off. — Nicole Duva, Promoter, Main Events

Until proven otherwise, Mayweather reigns supreme. You can do all the statistical analysis you want but he stands head and shoulders above all, and I expect nothing less next Saturday. — Ron Katz, Matchmaker, Star Boxing

I am going with Canelo. I think his youth and power will give him that chance to win this fight, plus Mayweather is getting old and isn’t as fast at higher weight. Don’t get me wrong, Mayweather is fast, but I think weight and age will slow him down a little and Canelo will capitalize. – Jolene Mizzone, Matchmaker, Main Events

Size means little to me; it is overrated unless you have a flyweight facing a heavyweight. Like him or not, Mayweather is the finest fighter of his generation. Whether or not he wakes on the wrong side of the bed one day is something we cannot know ahead of time. Put it this way: The best Mayweather beats the best Canelo, Russel Peltz, Promoter, Peltz Boxing

The Canelo-Mayweather fight truly only has one outcome: confusion. Canelo’s straight forward and predictable style will be easy for Floyd Mayweather to pick apart, that Canelo will be confused by round 4. Floyd wins by unanimous confusion (decision). –Michelle Rosado, Promoter, Raging Babe

FINAL TALLY: EXPERTS CHOOSE MAYWEATHER OVER CANELO 46 – 10.

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 A Conversation With Acclaimed Journalist and Boxing Analyst Mark Kriegel

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If you’re a storyteller, and Mark Kriegel is certainly that, then boxing is the perfect passport.

A multi-skilled journalist who works for ESPN on several platforms, Kriegel’s video essays for Top Rank promotions, which are fewer than 200 words, are popular, and sets the New York City native apart from the crowd.

“I do think when those essays work, I’m able to boil down the theme of the fight into something that’s really small,” he said. “I’ve learned more about writing in the last two years because of those essays than I had in the previous decade.”

Kriegel added: “It’s because of those essays and because they really force you to make choices and they force you to cut out whatever is extraneous,” he said. “If it doesn’t matter in the story line, it goes. I’ve never been able to be that ruthless with my own words until I started writing these essays. Learning how to write for television has given me more discipline than I’ve ever had before in terms of the word and selecting the right word.”

Because boxers are willing to speak with the media, their stories are often worth telling.

“Boxing is the most organic form of storytelling, even more than the theater. Boxers are more honest than most other athletes, even when they’re lying. Boxers generally remain accessible,” said Kriegel, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a master’s degree from Columbia University. “Fighters need the storytellers because there is no league. The fighter’s story is more important than his or her record or even his or her belts. The story is really what we’re tuning in for.”

The sweet science can be a sideshow, but it’s still usually compelling.

“There’s a lot not to like about boxing, but that’s also why it makes for great storytelling,” said Kriegel, a two-time New York Times bestselling author. “Some days I think it’s a sport. Some days I’m convinced it’s not a sport. Boxing is better for the storytellers than it is for the fighters. That’s a guilty confession.”

By the nature of boxing, there are two combatants in the ring and because of this, there is conflict.

While fans watch and journalists cover the sport, everyone wants to see who prevails, but it’s often the back story that seems to bring out the fans’ rapture.

Who doesn’t want to see a young man or woman battle his or her way out of a hardscrabble life and reach heights reserved for a chosen few?

“What makes for a good story is conflict. Boxing is formalized, ritualized conflict. It’s a staged, managed conflict. It’s elemental. It’s two guys basically naked in the ring going at each other,” said Kriegel, who began his career as a general assignment reporter for the Miami Herald and the New York Daily News where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the Feature Writing category. “Because of the way it’s physically constructed, you’re going to see the nature of each character exposed. If you’re a storyteller, boxing does all the work for you.”

There is something pure and fundamental about boxing. “The other sports are metaphors for what boxing actually is and that’s combat. The difference between MMA and boxing, apart from the modes of combat, is that unlike MMA, boxing has a past,” Kriegel said. “It has a history. It’s a corrupt history, but it’s a very romantic one.”

It’s likely Kriegel came to be a writer because of his father, Leonard Kriegel, who is 88 and still lives in the same apartment on Eighth Avenue, two blocks from Madison Square Garden.

The elder Kriegel’s story is a remarkable one. Born in 1933, he was a polio victim at a young age, but this didn’t stop him from becoming an accomplished writer and teacher.

“My father is from the Bronx. He lost the use of his legs when he was 11 because of polio,” Kriegel said. “He’s a professor at City College. Most of his work and his teaching is American Literature. Which meant American male Literature. He was a very charismatic, crippled man writing about the nature of masculinity and it informed almost everything I’ve ever written.”

Kriegel is the author of four books including a novel, “Bless Me, Father,” which was based on a front-page column he wrote for the New York Post.

Esteemed writer Nick Tosches, who penned numerous books, had a hand in Kriegel’s development as an author.

“He wrote these fantastically stylized biographies,” Kriegel said of Tosches, who wrote about Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin and Sonny Liston, to name but a few of his subjects.

Kriegel’s initial biography was published in 2004 and titled, “Namath: A Biography,” followed three years later by “Pistol: The Life Of Pete Maravich,” and five years later by “The Good Son: The Life Of Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini.”

“I’d done a newspaper piece on Mancini in the [New York] Daily News. I owed the publisher a book on Michael Jordan, which I wasn’t too excited about doing, and this idea of Mancini kept coming back to me,” Kriegel said. “It wouldn’t leave me alone and I wouldn’t leave Ray alone.”

The book’s genesis took shape at an Italian restaurant in Santa Monica, California, with Kriegel, Mancini and the actor Ed O’Neill, eating and drinking until the small hours.

“Ray’s relationship with his father was more straightforward. He was out to redeem his father and that was beautiful,” Kriegel said. “There aren’t that many happy stories in boxing.”

Mancini promised his father, Lenny, a lightweight contender who was injured in World War II that he would win the championship he never did.

After scooping up the World Boxing Association lightweight belt in May 1982 from Arturo Frias, Mancini gave the belt to his father.

In a nationally televised title fight six months later at the outdoor ring at Caesars Palace, Mancini stopped Duk Koo Kim in the 14th round. The 27-year-old South Korean suffered a severe head injury and died five days later.

There are ups and downs in every person’s life, but it was extremely difficult for Mancini to accept what happened to Kim.

Though he retained his title and was pleased with that, Mancini said there was nothing good about that fight.

Three months after the November bout, Kim’s mother committed suicide because of what happened to her son and because family members were bickering over the money he earned.

Since time heals all wounds, Kim’s son, Kim Chi-Wan, eventually forgave Mancini, but it took nearly three decades.

It’s been said the 1980s was a Golden Era for boxing, and it was, but where does the current crop stand for Kriegel?

“There aren’t enough good fights. You can make an argument and it’s perfectly reasonable that the 1980s was [the Golden Era] because you had the Four Kings [Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler] and they fought each other,” he said. “[Muhammad] Ali and [Joe] Frazier fought their trilogy in far less time than it took [Manny] Pacquiao and [Floyd] Mayweather Jr. to get together for one. By the time they did, neither was in their prime.”

While there are outstanding boxers plying their trade right now, there are also problems.

“I really admire Mayweather a lot. One of the unfortunate byproducts of his era is the emphasis on the perfect record,” Kriegel noted. “To me a fighter’s career doesn’t become a truly dramatic proposition until he or she loses. The great plague on boxing right now is all these undefeated champions. I see a bunch of perfect records, but I don’t see many perfect fighters. The loss is what makes it dramatic.”

Kriegel said in an earlier time, Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., both undefeated, would have fought each other multiple times and taken on all comers the way Oscar De La Hoya and the recently retired Shawn Porter did.

Pete Hamill, a national treasure, was Kriegel’s dear friend and mentor.

What does Kriegel take away from his time with Hamill, who passed away in August 2020?

“He made the idea of New York so romantic,” said Kriegel of Hamill, who was a journalist, writer, novelist and editor. “He made the idea of boxing romantic. He was a great and generous teacher. A really wonderful teacher. He was the kind of writer I wanted to become.”

Kriegel became a sportswriter by circumstance. “The [New York] Post turned me into a sports columnist out of desperation,” he said. “I never really took to becoming a sportswriter. I always felt ambivalent except when it was covering boxing. Boxing was the only sport I really loved covering and still do.”

It’s the elements in and around boxing that spark Kriegel’s imagination.

“The same stuff I loved about covering cops and criminals and courts, I found in boxing,” he pointed out. “I mean that you could actually find great moments of humanity. Boxing had all the stuff that I had been looking for. Thematically and in terms of content: fame and masculinity, good and evil. They’re all great dramas.”

Luckily, Kriegel found boxing and boxing found Kriegel. It’s a perfect match.

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Vonda Ward: Much More Than a Highlight Reel

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Anyone who can beat 235-pound Martha Salazar three times is someone who can flat out fight. An ex-basketball player named Vonda Ward defeated her three times (all by decision).

Salazar was an immensely popular and talented female fighter out of San Francisco, CA by way of Jalisco, Mexico. On November 8, 2014, she won the WBC world heavyweight title against Tanzee Daniel by unanimous decision. She lost the title in March 2016 to Alejandra Jimenez in Mexico and retired the following year.

Bottom line: Martha Salazar was a pioneer in legitimizing the heavyweight division in Female Boxing.

“Some girls like to play soccer. Some like to play tennis. Some play volleyball. But we don’t play – we box. So, it’s a very big difference between other sports knowing that someone else is going to hit you. So we want everybody to feel secure, safe, and know that this is what we do, this is what we are and no one can change us.”  — Martha Salazar

Vonda Ward

The 6’6” Ward played basketball at Trinity HS in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and was twice named Ohio’s “Ms. Basketball. She made the prestigious Parade All American team twice and was named an All American by USA Today. In 1991, she joined the University of Tennessee basketball team coached by the legendary Pat Summit.

During her four years at UT, Ward started 49 of 125 games, averaging 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds while blocking 98 shots – still the 10th most by a Tennessee player. During her time there, the Lady Vols put together a 122-11 record and won three Southeastern Conference championships. Ward was a member of the 1995 squad that played in the NCAA championship game, losing to perennial powerhouse Connecticut. Ward then competed with USA Basketball as a member of the 1993 Jones Cup Team that won the Bronze in Taipei.

vonda

After college, Vonda played for a professional basketball club in Aschaffenburg, Germany and then the ABL’s bootstrap Colorado Xplosion. Injuries cut short her pro basketball career, so given her muscularity, size and athleticism, she was attracted to boxing.

In 2000, her first year of competition, Ward, nicknamed the “All American Girl,” was 10-0 including eight first-round knockouts. None of her opponents lasted beyond the second round. While her fluidity was not especially smooth, she compensated by leveraging her size and a deceptive mean streak (inside the ring) to beat down her opposition. She simply was physically superior to her competition. She was no female Ivan Drago but her defined-sculpted body made her very intimidating.

Ward was 18-0 when she fought the ever-dangerous 5’9” Ann Wolfe on May 8, 2004. In the opening round, Wolf scored the most astounding KO in female boxing history and one of the most spectacular of all time, male or female. Ward had jumped forward into the impact of Ann’s overhand punch, and the result left her unresponsive for several minutes. She was then immobilized and stretchered out of the ring.

Most would have retired at this point, but Vonda wasn’t “most.” Seven months later, she returned to the ring and knocked out Marsha Valley in four rounds in Cleveland.

She went on to win four more bouts, finishing her career with a record of 23-1 with 17 KOs. In her next-to-last fight, in February of 2007, Ward won the inaugural WBC female heavyweight title, defeating Salazar for the third and final time by unanimous decision.

This is the part that is always overlooked. Unfortunately, Vonda’s career continues to be defined by her spectacular and scary KO and not her 23-1 record with 17 KO’s. It’s always about the highlight reel.

Vonda Ward announced her retirement in 2010. She is now a personal trainer working out of King’s Gym in Bedford Heights, Ohio. Known for giving back to her community, she often reminisces about the late Pat Summit and what could have been at Tennessee. She was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

For most, Vonda will be remembered for the Wolf knockout. For this writer, however, she will be noted as a rare female athlete who was able to compete at the top level of two different professional sports.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com and welcomes comments and posts.

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Don King Keeps On Truckin’ and That Portends More Junk

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There are two ways of looking at Don King. There was a day when the former Cleveland street hustler was the pre-eminent boxing promoter in the world. That he is still swinging away at the age of 90 is a wonderful thing, a tribute to his perspicacity. But it’s worth remembering that although King was the driving force behind some of the most storied fights in history, he also foisted a lot of junk on the boxing public. And nowadays, now that his bankroll has atrophied, pretty much all that’s left is the junk.

As a purveyor of junk, King appears to have outdone himself with his forthcoming show in Warren, Ohio. Granted, the main event of the Jan. 29 card, a rematch between cruiserweight title-holder Ilunga Makabu and his South African countryman Thabiso Mchunu, is a good match between fighters with seemingly comparable skill sets. And the supporting bouts might well be entertaining. But that’s entertaining in the way that a train wreck is entertaining.

The co-feature between Trevor Bryan (pictured) and Jonathan Guidry is a travesty, or at least a travesty from the standpoint of how it’s being packaged.

Bryan, who hails from Schenectady, New York, is undefeated (21-0, 15 KOs) and owns a share of the WBA world heavyweight title (the other piece is owned by Oleksandr Usyk). However, he has yet to fight a top-10 opponent and no one really knows how good he is. What we do know is that he is prone to slothfulness. He carried 267 ½ pounds for his last bout against ancient Bermane Stiverne which was 31 pounds more than he had carried in his previous engagement.

In defense of Bryan, this was his first fight in 29 months and many gyms were closed during the pandemic. Moreover, the suet around his waist was entirely in character with King-controlled heavyweights of yesteryear. During the mid-1980s when there was a revolving door of heavyweight title-holders and the term “alphabet soup” was born, love handles were standard. Jack Newfield postulated that King’s heavyweights became so demoralized by his chicanery that they lost all incentive to stay in shape.

That brings us to Jonathan Guidry whose 17-0-2 record was forged against opponents with a combined record of 108-118 at the time that he fought them. The 32-year-old Guidry, who has carried as much as 270 pounds on his 5’11” frame, hails from Dulac, Louisiana, deep in Cajun country, where his regular job is harvesting shellfish from the waterways of his parish.  He is trained by his 45-year-old brother, Martin Verdin, an active boxer with a 23-20-2 record, but for this fight he moved his tack to Houston to train under Bobby Benton who has also trained Regis Prograis.

Trevor Bryan’s original opponent was Mahmoud Charr, the perpetual WBA “Champion in Recess” who purportedly could not get a visa to travel from Germany. Jonathan Guidry was already on the card, penciled in to fight beefy, 42-year-old Alonzo Butler.

The WBA has a rule that a boxer must be ranked in the top-15 to compete for a world title. When Charr, who last fought in November of 2017, was lopped off the bill of fare, the incorrigibly shameless Panama-based sanctioning body boosted Guidry to #13 in its ratings. The folks at boxrec, where King has no influence, are not as sanguine. At boxrec, Guidry clocks in at 256.

The undercard, we are informed, will feature “boxers knocking on the door of stardom.” Presumably that includes the grizzled Butler whose new opponent is 13-1 Ahmed Hefny, an obscure 37-year-old fighter from Queens, New York, whose nickname is “Prince of Egypt.” Butler vs. Hefny is one of four scheduled 10-round NABA title fights. As currently constituted (there will inevitably be last-minute changes), these match-ups include only one competitor under the age of 30, that being 27-year-old welterweight Cody Wilson, a product of the West Virginia Toughman circuit.

A press release concocted by Don King is always full of goo. “The world’s greatest promoter, Don King, has come through with another spectacular championship night of boxing,” says the release for the Jan. 29 card. The receipts, we are informed, will benefit “homeless, poor, and downtrodden people.” Canelo Alvarez, it’s said, will be there to scout Ilunga Makubu who is on his short list of future opponents. (If Canelo turns up in Warren, Ohio, I will eat my hat.)

There are times that I think that a Don King press release is calculated to create a backlash on the theory that all publicity is good publicity. A movie universally panned as among the worst ever is almost certain to develop a cult following.

If King’s show is replete with memorable moments and you miss it, don’t blame me; I said the show was potentially entertaining. But if you enjoy boxing because of the artistry displayed by the top performers, then you would be better served by averting your eyes.

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