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The Decision In The Last Fight Is A Blessing In Disguise For Pacquiao This Time

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Sometimes a great fighter can lose a fight, or a decision can go against him that most everyone felt that he won…and it can be a blessing in disguise.

That was exactly the case on March 8, 1971, when “Smokin” Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali conclusively via a 15-round unanimous decision in the “Fight Of The Century” when both were undefeated with the undisputed heavyweight title on the line.

The March 15th edition of Sports Illustrated had on its cover a picture of Ali falling to the canvas in the 15th round, with the caption “End Of The Ali Legend.”

And to this day it can be said with impunity that Ali, the most important boxer who has yet lived, actually lost the biggest and most widely anticipated sporting event, not fight, in history.

At the time many Ali fans were in tears and depressed immediately after Frazier defeated him. Yet, as history would unfold and now all these years looking back, the best thing to ever happen to Ali in the ring is that Joe Frazier beat him fair and square when they met the first time. Had Ali beaten Frazier by unanimous decision he may not be considered the greatest heavyweight ever as he is today, by many. Frazier’s defeat of Ali solidified Joe as an all-time great fighter and gave Ali something to prove since he really never had to overcome adversity before. However, before Ali got a chance to settle the score with Frazier, young George Foreman knocked Joe out for the undisputed title in two rounds. Foreman beating Frazier, who recently beat Ali, propelled him to the top of the food chain and provided Ali with two legitimate greats who stood in his way, two fighters that he would have to eventually defeat if he ever were to gain the title again.

As we saw Ali came back and beat Frazier in their rematch and then knocked out the undefeated Foreman nine months later to become only the second fighter in history to lose and regain the undisputed heavyweight title. After making three defenses of the title Ali stopped Frazier in their rubber match, “The Thrilla In Manila,” to retain the title. In short it’s Ali’s victories over Frazier and Foreman that are a monumental reason why he’s the icon and legend he is today. So remember, had he defeated Frazier the first time that wouldn’t have been possible and we probably would’ve never found out that Foreman was one of the greats as well. In essence, Ali losing the “Fight Of The Century” was really the best thing that ever happened to him. Today, the Sport Illustrated cover would show the same picture of Ali going down with the caption “Beginning Of The Ali Legend.”

Almost exactly 22 months ago to the day former WBO welterweight title holder Manny Pacquiao 55-5-2 (38) lost his title via a 12-round split decision to Timothy Bradley 31-0 (12). When the decision was announced favoring Bradley, Pacquiao and the boxing world were stunned. Virtually everyone who saw the fight live or on PPV-TV saw Pacquiao as the overwhelming winner. Even Bradley said he had to go home and watch the tape to see if he won. Since the decision in their first fight was rendered that’s all we’ve heard discussed regarding these two fighters.

Everybody has been in an uproar over what so many perceive as an unjust decision and view the winner of the fight as the loser, and the loser as the winner. Well, it just so happens that the decision that went against Pacquiao against Bradley in their first fight just may be the best thing that he has going for him when they meet in a rematch this coming Saturday night.

The stories surrounding Pacquiao since the fight, which only started after the decision was read, have been focused on what he needs to do to win this time and how he must re-discover his aggression and so-called eye of the tiger that he carried to the ring when he stopped Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in consecutive fights circa 2008/2009. But that’s a little misleading… because if Manny really did handle Bradley the first time, which he did, then why does he have to practically reinvent himself this time? Really, he doesn’t.The last time they fought Manny was aggressive, but Bradley’s hand and foot-speed along with his unorthodoxy stymied Pacquiao a little bit. But as we saw, it wasn’t enough so that Bradley actually bettered him. What it did was basically help Bradley extend the fight and it forced Pacquiao to rush him, sometimes carelessly, which afforded a couple easy openings and counters for Bradley. However, this time that won’t be enough to carry Bradley to the decision and he and his trainer Joel Diaz know it.

Because of the decision in the last fight it’s Bradley who has to change and be better this time, not so much Pacquiao. In the rematch Saturday night Bradley has to try and win two fights in one and must prove that he really did deserve the decision in the first one. I’ve seen where so many, including myself, are picking Pacquiao to win this time because we feel that the bout will go the distance. Subconsciously, we believe that as long as the fight is relatively competitive and close, Pacquiao will get the makeup call, the decision, because he’s still the star and the draw in the fight. Plus, it makes for better business.. and if Manny wins the dream of a faux Super Fight with Floyd Mayweather lives on.

And guess what? Team Bradley is very cognizant of this too.

Since getting the decision over Pacquiao, Bradley has faced and legitimately beaten a beast named Ruslan Provodnikov and the other active boxing professor aside from Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez. There’s no way in the world that Bradley and his brain trust want to waste three consecutive big wins because they were tentative and didn’t do enough to convince the judges again that Timothy beat Manny. No, Bradley wants to put Pacquiao behind him and start campaigning for Mayweather. Bradley knows that the sentiment with the judges this time is going to lead them to look for every reason in the world to give the fight to Pacquiao if it comes down to a decision. Which means he’s really going to have to make a statement against Pacquiao in this fight. But how does he do that? He survived the last fight a lot because he kept it from becoming a war and an all out fight. This time Bradley will have to land as many memorable shots as Pacquiao and he may actually have to beat him up a little, something he didn’t do the last time. Well, Bradley cannot do that by simply trying to box and pick his spots. He’ll have to at different times during the bout take a chance and try to stand his ground against Manny and win the exchange with an exclamation point. And guess what, if Bradley fights like that and with a mindset that he really has to win it beyond a doubt this time, that works to Pacquiao’s advantage in a big way.

The best thing for Pacquiao would be to have in front of him is a Bradley who is willing to fight and trade, and not box. And say Bradley tries to fight Pacquiao straight up a few times during the fight and realizes it’s too risky and dangerous and reverts back to moving and boxing and only looking to react after he’s sure it’s safe. You know what, he’ll look like he’s running and trying to avoid fighting. Is there even a morsel of a doubt as to how that will look to the judges and fans? Of course not, and Pacquiao will have to get the decision.

Let’s play it from the other end and say Bradley actually engages with Pacquiao and does better this time than he did in their last fight, but still loses the decision. Then he’ll say afterwards that “he did better this time and should’ve won.” So as you can see the decision that went against Pacquiao the last time is the biggest thing he has going for him this time because Bradley is a victim of it and his hand is actually forced strategically in a way that it wasn’t the first time. No, it won’t hurt Pacquiao if he can fight with the urgency he used to have when he was knocking everybody out. But it’s obvious that he’s not the same fighter in 2014 that he was in 2009 and that tireless non-stop punching machine is gone forever. However, he may not have to be quite the supernova he was then because Bradley has to bring it a little more himself this time and he knows that. And that serves Pacquiao really well for the rematch.

The decision that went against Pacquiao the last time he fought Bradley will be a big plus for him on Saturday night, April 12, 2014, both in how the fight unfolds strategically in the ring and how it’s scored by the officials.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com.

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Another Victory for Ukraine as Berinchyk Upsets Navarrete in San Diego

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Whether it was inspiration or perspiration, Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk motored past Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete by split decision to become the WBO lightweight world titlist on Saturday.

Just hours after his fellow countryman Oleksandr Usyk became undisputed heavyweight world champion, Berinchyk joined the club.

“This is a great night for all people of Ukraine,” Berinchyk said.

The undefeated Ukrainian Berinchyk (19-0, 9 KOs) gutted out a win over Navarrete (38-2-1, 31 KOs) who was attempting to join Mexico’s four-division world champion club in San Diego. The lanky fighter known as “Vaquero” fell a little short.

Through all 12 rounds neither fighter was able to dominate and neither was able to score a knockdown. Just when it seemed one fighter gathered enough momentum, the other fighter would rally.

A butt caused a slight cut on Navarrete in the 10th round. That seemed to ignite anger from the Mexican fighter and he powered through the Ukrainian fighter the next two rounds.

In the final round Berinchyk bore down and slugged it out with the Mexican fighter as both relied on their weapons of choice. For most of the night Navarrete scored with long-range uppercuts and Berinchyk scored with overhand rights.

After 12 rounds two judges scored it 115-113, 116-112 for Berinchyk and one 116-112 for Navarrete. Ukraine gained its third world titlist in one a week. Berinchyk joins Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko as world titlists.

“He’s a very tough guy,” said Berinchyk of Navarrete.

Welterweights

A battle between undefeated welterweights saw Brian Norman (26-0, 20 KOs) knock out Giovany Santillan (32-1, 17 KOs) in the 10th round to become the interim WBO titlist.

For nine rounds both welterweights engaged in brutal inside warfare as each tried to beat the sense out of each other.

Norman worked the body early as Santillan targeted the head. Neither fought more than two inches from each other.

The younger Norman, 23, connected with a right cross during an exchange that wobbled Santillan in the eighth round. From that point on the Georgia fighter began setting up for his power shots. Finally, in the 10th round, uppercuts dropped Santillan twice. In the second knockdown Santillan went down hard as referee Ray Corona stopped the fight immediately at 1:33 of the 10th round.

Other Bouts

Heavyweight Richard Torrez (10-0, 10 KOs) knocked out Brandon Moore (14-1) in the fifth round for a regional title.

Lightweight Alan Garcia (10-0) defeated Wilfredo Flores (10-3-1) by decision after eight.

Photo credit: German Villasenor

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UNDISPUTED ! – Usyk Defeats Fury ! – Plus Undercard Results from Riyadh

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The most ballyhooed fight of the young century played out today at Riyadh Arena in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where Ukraine’s amazing Oleksandr Usyk became an undisputed world champion in a second weight class with a split decision over WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

This was a memorable fight with twists and turns. Usyk had some good moments early, but the middle rounds belonged to the Gypsy King. Heading into the second half of the bout, the old saying that a good big man will always beat a good little man, appeared to be holding up once again. Fury was having good success working the body as his trainer SugarHill Steward exhorted him to do, and when he went upstairs, he rattled Usyk, notably in round five when a big uppercut appeared to lift the Ukrainian off his feet. But Usyk finished round seven strong, a prelude of what was to come.

Usyk plainly won round eight and in round nine, he came within a whisper of ending it. A flurry of punches sent Fury reeling. He crashed into the ring ropes which dictated a standing-8 count from referee Mark Nelson. If Nelson had waited a few more seconds, he would have likely waved the fight off as Fury was on queer street. But this dramatic turnaround came late in the round and the Gypsy King was saved by the bell.

Among other things, Tyson Fury is known for his amazing powers of recuperation. He not only stayed the course, but appeared to win the final round. But in the end, Oleksandr Usyk, now 22-0 (14) saddled Fury (34-1-1) with his first defeat. Two of the judges favored him (115-112, 114-113) with the dissenter scoring it for Fury 114-113.

A draw wouldn’t have caused much of a stink and now they will do it again. The sequel is tentatively scheduled for October. Both are getting a little long in the tooth – Usyk is 37 and Fury is 35 – so we will be surprised if the rematch lives up to the hype.

Semi-wind-up

The first encounter between Jai Opetaia and Mairis Briedis was a grueling fight. Opetaia, an Australian Olympian at age 16, won the battle (a fair decision) but yet took the worst of it. Early in that bout, he had his jaw fractured in two places and for the next two months was forced to eat out of a straw.

The rematch tonight in Riyadh was a monotonous fight through the first nine rounds. Briedis, now 39 years old and inactive since their first meeting, looked old and rusty. But the fight heated up in round 10 and the championship rounds belonged to the Latvian.

It came too little, too late, however, as Briedis needed a knockout to win. At the conclusion, the judges favored the Aussie by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 twice.

Opetaia, 28, improved to 25-0 (19).  Briedis, who has defeated everyone that he has fought with the exceptions of Opetaia and Oleksandr Usyk (and the Usyk fight was close) falls to 28-3.

The first fight between Opetaia and Briedis was for the IBF cruiserweight title. Tonight’s match is for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title (don’t ask).

Cordina-Cacace

In a major upset, Belfast’s Anthony Cacace, a 12-year pro, captured the IBF 130-pound world title with a seventh-round stoppage of previously undefeated Joe Cordina who went to post a consensus 7/1 favorite. The end came 39 seconds into round seven with Cacace pummeling Cordina against the ropes.

The Irishman was the busier fighter and landed the harder punches, but the bout was not without controversy. In the third frame, Cacace stunned Cordina with a punch that landed after the referee ordered the fighters to break. That put Cordina on the defensive and before the round was over, Cacace put him on the canvas with a wicked uppercut and Cordina, badly hurt, barely survived the round. Cacace (22-1, 8 KOs) had a big sixth round and closed the show in the next stanza.

Cordina, a 2016 Olympian who was undefeated in 17 pro fights heading in, is a close friend and frequent workout partner of Lauren Price who captured the WBC female welterweight title last week. She now stands alone as the only current world champion from Wales.

Kabayel-Sanchez

In a mild upset, Agit Kabayel continued his late career surge with a seventh-round KO of previously undefeated Frank Sanchez. As was the case in his last fight when he upset Arslanbek Makhmudov, Kabayel (25-0, 17 KOs) finished his opponent with body punches. A left-right combination knocked Sanchez to his knees and then, after Sanchez got to his feet, a straight right to the belly sent him down again and he wasn’t able to beat the count.

Sanchez, who was 24-0 heading in, entered the bout with a brace over his right knee that compromised his mobility. Kabayel, the aggressor throughout, was comfortably ahead at the time of the stoppage. The official time was 2:23 of round seven.

Kovalev-Safar

In a dull 10-rounder, unsung Robin Safar, a Swedish-born fighter of Kurdish descent, may have written the finish for the career of Sergey Kovalev. At age 41 in his second fight as a cruiserweight and coming off a two-year layoff, the “Krusher” was a pale imitation of the fighter that won nine straight light heavyweight title fights before losing a controversial decision to Andre Ward in their first encounter.

Safar, who improved to 17-0 (12) punctuated his triumph by knocking down Kovalev (35-5-1) with a big right hand inside the final 10 seconds of the final round. The judges had it 99-90, 97-92, and 95-94.

Two early fights ended in early knockouts.

Moses Itauma, a 19-year-old, six-foot-six southpaw who was raised in London by a Nigerian father and a Slovakian mother, stopped Ilya Mezercev at the 50-second mark of the second round. Mezercev made it to his feet after being decked with a big right hook, but his legs were jelly and the fight was waved off.

Trained by Ben Davison, Itauma (9-0, 7 KOs) has been hailed as the next Anthony Joshua. As an amateur, he was reportedly 24-0. Mezercev, a Germany-based Kazkh, declined to 25-9.

British lightweight Mark “Thunder” Chamberlain (16-0, 12 KOs) looked sensational while blasting out Joshua Oluwaseun Wahab in the opening stanza. Chamberlain had Wahab (23-2) on the deck twice before the bout was waived off at the 2:42 mark.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 284: Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and Much More

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 284: Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and Much More

Argue all you want about the appeal of other sports, only boxing grabs fans on all levels and stratum.

It’s the oldest sport that has an international swag that only the World Cup can rival once every four years. Boxing has it every year.

Heavyweights take the forefront in Saudi Arabia while lightweights battle in Southern California. It’s an all-day affair pitting champions from all parts of the world.

Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), the WBC and lineal heavyweight champion, finally meets Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 15 KOs) who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday, May 18, at Riyadh. DAZN ppv, ESPN ppv, and PPV.Com will stream the massive fight card at 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET.

It’s a rare opportunity to decide who truly is the “baddest man on the planet.” Ever since the emergence of the alphabet titles, few know the name of the heavyweight champion. Not since Mike Tyson ruled the prize ring could fans tell you the name of the champ.

Some people still think Tyson is the heavyweight champ.

Now we have England’s “Gypsy King” Fury ready to prove that he indeed is the biggest and baddest of all the heavyweights in the world. He’s got his dad head-butting people to prove it.

“I predict that somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go. And it’s going to be that team over there, unfortunately for them,” said Tyson Fury who at six-feet, nine-inches tall towers over most opponents.

Facing Fury is Usyk, the Ukrainian fighter who twice defeated Anthony Joshua for several versions of the heavyweight championship.

Though several inches shorter and much lighter in weight, Usyk has displayed mobility and agility that allows him to dart in and out of danger. Will this tactic work against Fury?

“I have a plan. It’s a better plan. And it’s a great plan,” said Usyk. “I will have the opportunity to become undisputed for a second time.”

Of course, size doesn’t always matter when it comes to heavyweights. History has taught us the bigger man doesn’t always win. From Jack Dempsey whipping Jess Willard to Joe Frazier beating Buster Mathis, size doesn’t dictate the winner when it comes to heavyweights.

Top Rank’s Bob Arum summed up the importance of this heavyweight clash.

“After this fight, there is one ‘Baddest Man on the Planet,’ the undisputed heavyweight champion. That means everything in the sport of boxing. That means everything for fans who love boxing,” said Arum.

Two other world titles fights are also planned.

IBF super featherweight titlist Joe Cordina (17-0, 9 KOs) defends against Anthony Cacace (21-1, 7 KOs).

Cordina was seen in Santa Monica, California sparring various super featherweights in preparation for this match. His last match against Texan Edwin Vazquez was a squeaker but you can never tell what the Welsh fighter will do.

Who can forget his two-round demolition of Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa?

Cruiserweights also battle. IBF titlist Jai Opetaia (24-0, 19 KOs) of Australia defends against Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (28-2, 20 KOs). This is a rematch. They fought two years ago with Opetaia winning by decision in Australia. Can Opetaia do it again in neutral territory?

PPV.Com

Headlining the PPV.COM announcing crew for the Fury-Usyk card will be Dan Canobbio, Chris Algieri and Kevin Iole. They will be commentating and also discussing the fight via text on social media.

It’s been almost a year since this this style of reporting was adopted. Fans like the opportunity to discuss the fight with the experts.

San Diego Fights

Three-division world champion Emanuel Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs) attempts to become a four-division world champion when he meets Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO lightweight title on Saturday, May 18, at Pechanga Arena in San Diego, Calif. ESPN will televise.

The Mexican fighter known as “El Vaquero” seeks to become the sixth Mexican fighter with four division world titles and join the prestigious elite. Among those accomplishing the feat are Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Jorge Arce and Leo Santa Cruz.

Navarrete barely survived his last fight with a majority draw against Robson Conceicao last November in Las Vegas. Perhaps the extra five pounds will help?

On the co-main event welterweight contender Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) of San Diego returns home to face Georgia’s Brian Norman (25-0, 19 KOs) for the interim WBO welterweight title.

Santillan, 32, is coming off a big knockout win over Alexis Rocha last year. The southpaw has always stepped up when bigger and better competition confronts him. Can he do it again?

Norman, 23, is a hard-hitting welterweight who fought 16 times in his first two years. Many of those fights took place in Mexico. It’s a big test for him.

East L.A. Fights

Super featherweights Dariial Kuchmenov (7-0) and Daniel Lugo (5-2) meet Saturday May 18, at Salesian High School in East Los Angeles. The Elite Boxing USA promotions card begins at 6 p.m. The card features several other bouts including female fighter Mayra Ruiz.

For tickets go to www.tix.com/ticket-sales/eliteboxing/7

18th & Grand Exhibit

The final day to visit the “18th & Grand” exhibit takes place on Sunday May 19, at La Plaza De Cultura Y Artes located at 501 N. Main Street in downtown Los Angeles 90012. The exhibit is free.

Inside you will find photos and art of the Olympic Auditorium that was the center of boxing, wrestling, roller derby, and rock concerts for decades.

For boxing fans, its where the sport showcased the likes of Henry Armstrong, Baby Arizmendi, Art Aragon, Jerry Quarry, Mando Ramos, Scrap Iron Johnson, Art Hafey, and many others.

The exhibit is free of charge.

Jake Paul vs Mike Tyson

Tickets went on sale this week for the return of Iron Mike Tyson who will face Jake Paul in a heavyweight match commissioned as an actual fight.

Most Valuable Promotions will stage Tyson versus Paul along with the rematch between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano on July 20, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Netflix will stream the card live.

A number of other bouts are planned for the mega event.

Paul’s first actual boxing match took place when Tyson fought Roy Jones Jr. in Los Angeles several years ago.

“I started Jake off and I’m gonna finish him,” promised Tyson when they fight.

Paul said he respects Tyson like family.

“I love you like a father loves his son, but I must discipline you. You’re going down, man,” said Paul.

Fights to Watch

Sat. PPV.COM 9 a.m. Tyson Fury (34-0-1) vs Oleksandr Usyk (21-0).

Sat. ESPN, 7:30 p.m. Emanuel Navarrete (38-1-1) vs Denys Berinchyk (18-0).

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