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Mayweather-Pacquiao A Reality If Manny Beats Rios

Frank Lotierzo

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On 05/09/12 in an article titled “Mayweather’s Just Starving The Public, Money-Manny Will Definitely Happen,” I said: “Rest assured boxing fans….we will get to see the biggest fight of this era. Don’t fret for a moment, you’ll get to see the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing, Floyd Mayweather, fight the number two pound-for-pound fighter in boxing, Manny Pacquiao. The only way that Mayweather-Pacquiao doesn’t happen will be if Pacquiao loses in the interim, because we know Mayweather won’t be defeated before they fight.”

Well, Pacquiao has lost twice since then. Once on the the scorecards to Timothy Bradley (June 2012) and then he was stopped by Juan Manuel Marquez (December 2012) in his last fight. When I wrote that Mayweather-Pacquiao would definitely happen, Mayweather had just defeated Miguel Cotto in his last fight and looked terrific. Since then he’s won a lopsided decision over the under-sized Robert Guerrero and in his last fight this past weekend he looked great in beating the slightly over-hyped but undefeated Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. With Mayweathers’ recent showing versus Alvarez distancing himself from those in the running to next fight him, such as Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, Brandon Rios and Manny Pacquiao, there’s only one fighter amongst them who could generate monumental fan interest for a fight versus Floyd, and that is Pacquiao.

Taking nothing away from Garcia, Khan, Bradley, Alexander and Rios, but none of them could ignite the public’s interest the way Pacquiao would – especially if he stops Rios this coming November, or beats him decisively the way he did Miguel Cotto in November 2009. However, getting by Rios will be a very tall order for Pacquiao if he’s not willing to do the training needed in order to beat a young guy full of enthusiasm and determination with a great work rate like Rios. On the other hand, if Manny skimps in his training in any way, this is a fight that might not go his way. This is exactly why we won’t know who’s next for Mayweather until after Pacquiao fights Rios on November 23rd. Remember, Floyd stressed at the post fight press conference after beating Alvarez that he’s going on vacation with his family and isn’t gonna think about boxing. So suffice it to say, Mayweather isn’t even thinking about who’s next for at least the next six or seven weeks. Besides, he’s already thought about it and knows what his best move is once he sees what happens between Pacquiao and Rios. Since Pacquiao’s disputed decision loss to Bradley and then getting caught and stopped by Marquez in a fight he was in total control of, Mayweather has leap-frogged Manny as to who the number one fighter in boxing is, both as a draw and fighter. And after the way he looked versus Alvarez, he added another layer of proof confirming he’s the man in the sport of professional boxing. But that’s not good enough for Mayweather the fighter and competitor.

Floyd hasn’t forgotten that Pacquiao beat him out for fighter of the decade. Also, no fighter has been thrown in his face as Pacquiao has, nor has Floyd been accused of ducking anyone like he has Manny, for the better part of three years, circa 2009-2012.

Floyd is well aware that a majority of boxing fans, those who are not Mayweather fans first, believe that he is the reason why a fight with Pacquiao never happened. They also believe that Mayweather’s insistence on Olympic style drug testing before the fight was just subterfuge and a way of delaying the fight. This theory is something I fully endorse.

Amazingly both Bradley and Marquez lived to tell about their fights with the supposedly, allegedly roided up Pacquiao. Sure, I’ve always felt that Mayweather had the size, style and strength to beat Pacquiao, and would’ve had they fought at anytime during their careers. However, I do believe Floyd had some trepidation about fighting Manny and wasn’t as certain of victory the way he was going into his other previous bouts. I believe this is no longer an issue at all.

Pacquiao has been Mayweather’s rival for five years. The two of them have dominated the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions since 2007, and haven’t yet met. Both of their careers will be complete if they never meet. They’ve both compiled strong Hall of Fame resumes. But they’re also too competitive to let the rivalry die without tangling at least once, not to mention the tens of millions they’d both make if they fought.

At this time Mayweather can and will dictate the terms of the fight if it happens. Actually, he’s never held all the cards over Pacquiao like he does now. On top of that, Floyd looks stronger, physically, than he’s ever looked and Manny was KO’d in a devastating fashion nine months ago and hasn’t looked like the supernova he did during 2009/2010. In spite of all that Mayweather has accomplished as a fighter and regardless of what he says, he wants Paquiao’s name under his win column before he retires. No, he doesn’t need it, but he’s driven by want at this stage of his career much more than need. As wonderful as Mayweather has been and as terrifically as he’s managed his career in and out of the ring, he knows the thought is still out there that a lot of what he’ll be remembered for is not giving the public the fight they really wanted from him, a showdown with Pacquiao, if he retires having never fought him. He also knows most fans are naive and it doesn’t matter when he gives it to them as long as he does.

Whatever reservations Mayweather had about fighting Pacquiao before are no longer there. His love of dead presidents and a lasting legacy are still in play. Floyd harbors no self doubt about how a fight between he and Pacquiao would turn out. It’s also the biggest fight in boxing, still, provided Pacquiao gets by Rios and looks reinvigorated in the process. Then again, all Manny really has to do is win and the fight will once again be the talk in most boxing circles. And the fact that it’s too late and well past the sell by date won’t matter a bit. Due to the way the boxing media has foolishly pushed on the public that Mayweather-Pacquiao is Ali-Frazier reincarnated, all Pacquiao has to do is win to stimulate the debate to a fever pitch again. Ever since Pacquiao was stopped by Marquez, boxing fans and writers have written Mayweather-Pacquiao off. I say it happens because Mayweather wants it. Pacquiao has always wanted it but because he wouldn’t be bullied by “The Money Team” at the bargaining table, it never happened. I have no doubt that Mayweather will again force Manny to jump through hoops to try and make the fight a reality this time. Only this time I think they’ll make it happen. Call it a hunch.

If you’re one of those fans dying to see Mayweather-Pacquiao, keep your fingers crossed that Pacquiao beats Rios this coming November. And it would really help if he looked spectacular doing it. Yes, Mayweather-Pacquiao is a fight that is alive and in the making until one of them retires before it happens.

As of 2013 that hasn’t happened.

Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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