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Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Is Bullet-Proof

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How many things in life are actually bullet-proof? I would venture to say not many, but in sports there are a few things that really are bullet-proof and can’t miss.

The Super Bowl is bullet-proof. By that I mean it doesn’t matter which two teams play in it, it’s going to draw the biggest television audience of the year. The tickets will be more money this year than they were last year and the commercials will also be more expensive than they were for last years’ game. There will be parties at residences and restaurants everywhere the day of the game. And if you are traveling on the road while the game is being played, you can count on no traffic. No, it doesn’t matter if the game is between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Arizona Cardinals. If the Jaguars and Cardinals ever met in the Super Bowl, it would be the biggest and most widely covered game of the year regardless of the fact neither team has much juice outside of Florida and Arizona. So you see, the NFL can’t lose regardless of what two teams meet for the Lombardi trophy on the first Sunday of every February.

Unlike the Super Bowl, the World Series, NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals need at least one big market or establishment team in it to draw really big numbers. Can you imagine the putrid numbers a San Diego Padres vs. Tampa Bay Rays World Series would bring? Or an NBA finals featuring the Charlotte Bobcats vs. Memphis Grizzlies? MLB and the NBA along with the television networks broadcasting the games would be praying for some kind of monumental controversy to stir interest if they were stuck with a Padres-Rays World Series or a Bobcats-Grizzlies NBA final.

Some say professional boxing is on the decline. However, boxing has it’s own version of the Super Bowl, it’s titled Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. And it is as completely bullet-proof as the Super Bowl.

You can bet the house on it that the moment it’s announced and becomes official, look out, because it’ll dominate everything boxing until the night of the fight. I remember in 2009/2010 it was Mayweather-Pacquiao 24/7 but it never happened. I say because of Mayweather’s reluctance, but there are those who disagree. Back then it was a legitimate Super Fight and a case could’ve been made for either fighter winning, which is paramount in the making of a Super Fight. (Of course that is by no means the case today.)

Last weekend, Pacquiao avenged his decision loss to Timothy Bradley from two years ago. And ever since the moment his hand was raised in victory, all talk has centered around when he’s going to fight Mayweather. In less than three weeks Mayweather will fight and handily defeat Marcos Maidana, and after the fight all anyone will want to talk to him about is fighting Pacquiaio.

Remember when they were both thought to be unbeatable about four years ago? A lot has changed since then. As of this writing Mayweather is 37 and will soon be on the decline, I think. Pacquiao is 35. In addition to that, Pacquiao has been officially defeated twice, has been knocked out cold for two minutes lying face down on the canvas, and he hasn’t won by knockout in five years. What will it take for the boxing media and fans to grasp that Mayweather-Pacquiao isn’t a big fight and there’s no longer a scintilla of drama as to who will come out on top? Is there really one boxing observer left who doesn’t think that Mayweather played his hand perfectly waiting Pacquiao out and for him to shows signs of undeniable erosion? Are there still boxing aficionados around who don’t see Mayweather administering a one-sided boxing lesson to Pacquiao once they step into the ring when they finally meet? It’s blatantly obvious that Pacquiao no longer has the punch or power to make Mayweather do anything that he doesn’t want to. And without that he really has nothing else to fall back on to swing the fight in his favor. With Floyd not having to worry about getting stopped or really stunned to the point where he can’t recover, he can do what he wants in order to control the fight.

It seems that nothing matters, all boxing fans care about is Mayweather and Pacquiao fighting. I could see if Manny was still the non-stop punching dynamo he used to be, but he’s no longer that fighter. Even if you think he beat Bradley the first time, and he did. There’s still a great case to be made that he should’ve lost the decision to Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight. It was close but I had it for Marquez. And the disputed decision in their third meeting is what really prompted their fourth fight, and Pacquiao was knocked out in one of the most devastating fashions we’ve recently witnessed in that bout. Also, has everyone forgotten that Mayweather tortured and dominated a younger Marquez over 12-rounds back in late 2009? In fact Marquez didn’t win a round, no, he didn’t win a minute of that fight. Yet for some reason Mayweather and Pacquiao have to fight so the world keeps rotating?

I can’t explain why but the media and fans feel their lives won’t be complete if they don’t see Mayweather and Pacquiao fight, regardless of the fact that there isn’t a morsel of a doubt as to who will win. In fact, I bet the day of the fight Mayweather is about a 12-5 favorite and nobody will bet Pacquiao without getting odds. If Mayweather-Pacquiao were really so intriguing why will those betting Mayweather have to lay over 2-1 in order to bet him in the fight? That’s pretty overwhelming in favor of Mayweather for a fight that’s supposed to be must see and a toss up.

I really believe Pacquiao could fight and get knocked out by the Marquez-Alvarado winner in the first round, yet if he announced at the post fight press conference that he’s signed to fight Mayweather five months from now, the fight would still be the biggest grossing bout in history. Actually, I’ll go one further. Pacquiao could fight and get knocked out by Marquez and Alvarado in consecutive fights and still meet Mayweather five months later and break all PPV buy records. I’ve lived through big fights during my time, like Ali-Frazier I, II & III, Ali-Foreman, Leonard-Duran I & II and Leonard-Hearns…and believe me Mayweather-Pacquiao is nothing compared to those Super Fights.

Mayweather-Pacquiao is about as bullet-proof as any sporting event or fight that I’ve seen in my life. There is only one thing that could derail a fight between Floyd and Manny, and that too is bullet-proof. You know what that is, if Mayweather lost before they fought. That might be its death blow. But what are the odds of that? First of all there’s nobody around Mayweather’s weight who can beat him, and if that fighter existed, say a prime Paul Williams who forced Mayweather to retire once already, we know Floyd wouldn’t fight him. So the only thing that could cancel Mayweather-Pacquiao can’t happen. And once it’s official, regardless of how eroded Pacquiao may have looked in his previous bouts, the moment his name is joined with Floyd’s, it’ll become the latest fight of a life-time.

There’s nothing that can change that won’t make it a big deal once it becomes official. I’ve never seen anything like it where clear thinking, reason and logic have been so completely rejected and thrown out the window. Since 2010, Pacquiao has been defeated twice, knocked out and lost a decision he should’ve won and was given one he should’ve lost. But that doesn’t matter because everyone wants to see if he can beat Mayweather, despite there the fact there isn’t a morsel of evidence to suggest that he can. When Mayweather and Pacquiao are mentioned most boxing fans are like sharks during a feeding frenzy. In other words, Mayweather and Pacquiao are going to fight, I don’t care that Pacquiao is eroding and the result is a forgone conclusion. And that’s exactly what makes Mayweather vs. Pacquiao bullet-proof.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Abraham Nova and his Mascot are Back in Action on Friday Night

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With his black beard dyed gold, junior lightweight Abraham Nova is one of boxing’s most recognizable practitioners. Sometimes there’s two of him which makes him stand out even more. His twin is an inflatable mascot painted to look just like him. On fight nights they are inseparable. The mascot shadows Nova on his ringwalk, bouncing up and down and dancing to animate the crowd.

Some gimmicks are just plain hokey. Some are annoying. But there’s something whimsical about Nova’s invention that brings a smile to boxing fans of all ages. “Abraham Nova having his own mascot is one of the coolest things in boxing,” says fight writer Ryan Songalia.

“I played all sports in high school, football, baseball, track, and got the idea of it from other sports,” says Nova of his twin who he unveiled in January of 2020 at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona, New York, where he upped his record to 18-0 with a fourth-round stoppage of Mexican journeyman Pedro Navarrete.

He’s 5-2 since then, the smudges coming against future world featherweight champion Robeisy Ramirez (KO by 5) and defending super featherweight world champion O’Shaquie Foster where he came out on the short end of a split decision. This coming Friday, in his first assignment since failing to de-throne Foster, he opposes 21-0 Andres Cortes at the Fontainebleu in Las Vegas on a Top Rank card airing on ESPN+.

“I was the one who asked for this fight,” says Nova. “Top Rank offered me a match on their June 8th Puerto Rican Parade Weekend show at Madison Square Garden against an opponent who was 17-2, but I turned it down and asked for a better opponent and they accommodated me.” Las Vegas native Andres Cortes, who has been profiled in these pages, is ranked #2 at 130 pounds by the WBO.

In common with boxing’s historical pattern, Abraham Nova had a hardscrabble upbringing.

Born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic, the second-youngest of 10 children, he came to the U.S. at the age of 1 where the entire family was initially shoe-horned into a two-bedroom apartment in Albany, New York.

His father, Aquiles, had a friend here who was the pastor of a church and in need of an assistant pastor to help with his growing congregation. Aquiles eventually founded his own church in Albany, The Pentecostal Church of Unity & Prayer where services are held in both Spanish and English.

As a toddler, Nova lived briefly in Guatemala and Mexico where his parents were called to “spread the word” and to assist in redevelopment projects. The family traveled 5,500 miles in a rickety old school bus from Albany to Guatemala during the end days of the Guatemalan Civil War.

Each of Nova’s four brothers boxed, but he was the only one to turn pro. As an amateur, he won the 2015 Olympic Trials Qualifying Tournament in Memphis, defeating Frank Martin and Richardson Hitchins in back-to-back fights, but failed to make the U.S. team for the Rio Games when he lost a split decision to Gary Antuanne Russell at the Olympic Trials in Reno. Those bouts were contested at 141 pounds.

A 30-year-old bachelor, Nova had his final amateur fights in Lowell, Massachusetts, a pillar of amateur boxing in New England, and has remained in the Boston area without losing his Albany identity. He is trained by ex-U.S. Marine Mark DeLuca, a boxer of some renown who sports a 30-4 record and may not be done with fighting quite yet at age 36.

Nova’s opponent, Andres Cortes, has won five of his last seven inside the distance beginning with a smashing first-round knockout of 34-2 Genesis Servania. On paper, it’s a 50-50 match-up. (The pricemakers are flummoxed; as of this writing, they have yet to establish a betting line.)

Abraham Nova’s mascot may never become as well-known as some of the costumed human mascots in college sports (e.g., West Virginia’s Mountaineer or Michigan State’s Sparty), let alone as beloved as the University of Georgia’s flesh-and-blood bulldog mascot Uga, but give the boxer credit for originality and for bringing a little levity to a sport too often besotted with incivility.

Note: Abraham Nova vs. Andres Cortes is the co-feature. In the main go, new Top Rank signee Rafael Espinoza makes the first defense of his WBO world featherweight title against Mexican countryman Sergio Chirino. Espinoza forged the 2023 TSS Upset of the Year when he got off the deck to defeat Robeisy Ramirez on Dec. 9 in Pembroke Pines, Florida, winning legions of fans with his unrelenting buzzsaw attack. Action from the Fontaineblue begins at 4:00 pm PST on ESPN+.

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A True Tale from the Boxing Vault: When the Champion Refused to Fight

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A True Tale from the Boxing Vault: When the Champion Refused to Fight

BY TSS Special Correspondent David Harazduk — A hundred years ago, ducking a worthy challenger wouldn’t simply stoke the ire of the fans, it came with the prospect of jail time.

On Thursday, November 3, 1927, 16,000 fans packed Wrigley Field in Los Angeles hoping to witness their local favorite challenge for the welterweight world championship. Nicknamed the “Nebraska Wildcat,” Ace Hudkins had relocated to the Pacific Coast where his devil-may-care style in the ring made him instantly popular among Angelino fight fans. He was set to battle Joe Dundee, the champion, an Italian immigrant who had settled in Baltimore at a young age. But there was one problem.

The champion refused to fight.

Members of the California boxing commission, along with promoter Dick Donald, raced to the Biltmore Hotel to plead with Dundee (pictured) and his manager Max Waxman to come to Wrigley Field and fight. Waxman steadfastly refused. Donald, a quick-witted cigar-chomping Irishman known as the “Boy Promoter,” had promised Max’s man the ungodly sum of $60,000, and Dundee wouldn’t enter the ring for a penny less.

Under the rules of the California commission, a fighter could only receive a guarantee of $500. The rest of the purse came from a percentage of the gate: 37.5% for the champion and 12.5% for the challenger. Waxman insisted that Donald had offered $60,000, but the commission couldn’t enforce this side deal.

Tickets in the bleachers were sold at $2.20 a pop while those closer to the ring went for $11. The most the gate could possibly produce would be $90,000. Add in Wrigley Field’s 15% usage fee and payments to the preliminary fighters, officials, and even to rent the chairs situated around the ring, and Dundee’s dreams of $60,000- $75,000 if he lost the title- never had a prayer of being realized. After all, 37.5% of $90,000, plus $500, is only $34,250.

Meanwhile, Eddie Mahoney, a preliminary fighter, entered the ring at 8:30pm. Mahoney was scheduled to fight Joe Dundee’s brother Vince, a future middleweight world champion. When Vince didn’t follow Mahoney into the ring, Mahoney soon left, much to the bewilderment of the crowd.

Donald scrambled to find a plan B. He searched for welterweight contender Sergeant Sammy Baker to replace Dundee and fight Hudkins. When Baker couldn’t be located, Donald asked a preliminary fighter, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Fields, to take on Hudkins instead. Hudkins and Fields had been sparring partners when the featherweight champion of the 1924 Games in Paris was a nascent pro back in 1925. Fields’s manager, Gig Rooney, felt Hudkins was too big for the Olympic champ at this stage of his career and preferred to remain on the undercard against San Francisco’s Joey Silver.

With no plan B, Donald and the commissioners went back to Waxman in a last desperate plea to coax Dundee to defend his title. One commissioner, Charles Traung, offered Waxman an additional $10,000 check for Dundee to fight. Waxman stubbornly held out for more.

At 9:20pm, back at Wrigley, Donald signaled Jackie Fields and Joey Silver to enter the ring. Though Fields was wobbled twice, he opened up a cut over Silver’s left eye and split the San Franciscan’s lip on route to a convincing points victory in a ten-rounder. A few minutes after 10pm, Mahoney and Vince Dundee finally entered the ring for their clash. Dundee starched Mahoney inside of two rounds. When Waxman, who also managed Vince, heard of the second-round stoppage, he said “Vince knocked that guy out, eh? I told him to carry him along.” Waxman had hoped to stall for time.

Soon after the end of the Dundee-Mahoney fight, Ace Hudkins waltzed to the ring. He spent fifteen minutes seated in his corner, covered in a bathrobe and towels to keep him warm. Dundee never showed.

At 11:25pm, ring announcer Frank Kerwin slid into the ring and bellowed, “Owing to the fact that Joe Dundee did not receive his guarantee, he refused to go on with his match against Ace Hudkins.” The crowd was advised to “hold their seat checks and watch the newspapers for other announcements.”

The fans didn’t take too kindly to the announcement and hurled those rented chairs in disgust. Fights broke out all over the stadium, spilling into the ring. All available police officers in the area rushed to Wrigley Field, wielding their nightsticks in a bid to subdue the violent mob. Dozens of fans were injured in the fracas. To add insult to injury, those who had paid $2.20 for their seats in the bleachers were out of luck; they had never received a ticket in the first place.

The next day, Waxman and Joe Dundee checked out of the Biltmore Hotel at noon and made their way to the train station. Later that night, they were pulled off an eastbound train at Pasadena and arrested for false advertising.  Waxman posted a $1,000 bond for each of them.

A warrant was issued for Donald on the same false advertising grounds. He phoned into the police station promising to turn himself in once his feelings of humiliation subsided. The police agreed to wait.

Ultimately, all accused would be acquitted. Waxman would return the $22,249.43 that had been placed in his account and an $11,000 check.

Fans didn’t receive refunds as it was deemed unfair to give them only to those who had bought $11 tickets since the gallery patrons had no ticket stub and thus, couldn’t get a refund anyhow. After the preliminary fighters, Wrigley Field, officials, ushers, and the chair rental company were compensated, the rest of the money was placed into a community fund.

Because he had entered the ring for his title challenge, Ace Hudkins declared himself the new champion, but no commission accepted his claim. Dick Donald’s promotional career, once so promising, abruptly ended. In 1935, he took one last gasp in boxing, serving as matchmaker at the famed Olympic Auditorium for a brief spell.

Joe Dundee would never fight in California again. His championship reign ended dishonorably a year and half later when several commissions agreed to strip him of the title for refusing to fight any top contenders. When Jackie Fields won the vacant title, he and Dundee were matched for the undisputed crown on July 25, 1929. With Dundee a two-to-one underdog, Waxman and Dundee bet $50,000 on Joe to win, with fouls canceling the bet. Fields shellacked Dundee, knocking him down twice. In the second round, after the second knockdown, Dundee knew he was licked. He got up and hit Fields low as hard as he could. Dundee was instantly disqualified, losing any claim to the title as disgracefully as his hold-out against Hudkins.

If only some of the alphabet champions of today had to post bail under the threat of jail for ducking contenders, maybe boxing would be in a better state.

EDITOR’S: Author David Harazduk has run The Jewish Boxing Blog since 2010. You can find him at  Twitter/X @JewishBoxing and Instagram @JewishBoxing

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Results from the MGM Grand where Gervonta Davis Returned with a Bang

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After an absence of 421 days, Gervonta “Tank” Davis returned to the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In the opposite corner was Detroit-born Frank “The Ghost” Martin who has been training in Dallas under Derrick James. In previous fights, Gervonta, who holds the WBA world lightweight title, has shown a tendency to start slow before closing the show with a highlight-reel knockout. Tonight was no exception.

Martin, 18-0 heading in, fought off his back foot from the get-go, but had good moments and was arguably ahead after five frames. But as the fight moved into the middle rounds, Martin became more stationary and one could sense that the ever-stalking Davis was wearing him down. In Round 8, Davis trapped Martin against a corner post, discombobulated him with a left uppercut and then turned out his lights with a chopping left hand. There was no chance that Martin could rise before referee Harvey Dock completed the “10” count.

Davis (30-0, 28 KOs) celebrated by standing on the top strand of rope and doing a black flip. He has many lucrative options going forward and will be favored to defeat whoever his next opponent will be.

The Davis-Martin fight was the capstone of a four-fight pay-per-view, the second collaboration between Premier Boxing Champions and Amazon Prime Video.

Benavidez-Gvozdyk

In his first fight as a light heavyweight, David Benavidez scored a 12-round unanimous decision over former lineal light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

Benavidez, who improved to 20-0 (24), worked the body well and kept up the pressure in the early-going, building a substantial lead. His work output declined over the last third of the fight, but his punches still carried more steam than those of Gvozdyk, 37, who suffered his second loss in 22 pro fights, the other inflicted by the indomitable Artur Beterbiev, prompting the SoCal-based Ukrainian to take a long hiatus from the ring. The judges had it 119-109, 117-111, and 116-112.

Puello-Russell

In a major upset, Alberto Puello of the Dominican Republic saddled Gary Antuanne Russell with his first pro loss, winning a split decision. Puello appeared to have the edge in a furious final round, without which the bout would have ended in a draw. Puello, who improved to 23-0 (10), had to overcome a dubious call by referee Allan Huggins who took a point away from the Dominican in Round 7 for too much holding.

Russell, who was making his first start against a southpaw, is now trained by his brother Gary Russell Jr., the former featherweight champion, who replaced their late father. Russell Jr last fought in January of 2022.

Heading in, Gary Antuanne Russell had won all 17 of his pro fights by knockout. One of the judges thought he won handily. But his tally, 118-109 for Russell, was overruled by the115-112 and 114-113 scores awarded the underdog. Puello, who briefly held the WBA diadem at 140 but had it stripped from him when he tested positive for PEDs, won an interim belt in that weight class with his upset tonight.

Adames-Gausha

In the PPV opener, Alberto Puello’s countryman Carlos Adames successfully defended his WBC middleweight title in his first world title fight with a one-sided decision over former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha. Adames, whose late father reportedly sired 35 children, was the aggressor and landed many more punches. He advanced his record to 24-1 (19). It was the fourth loss in 29 pro starts for the 36-year-old Gausha. The judges had it 119-109 and 118-110 twice.

Adames’ triumph made it 2-0 for the Dominicans and their trainer Ismael Salas.

Other Bouts of Note

In a huge upset, Delaware’s Kyrone Davis overcame Arizona’s previously undefeated and highly-touted Elijah Garcia, winning a split decision. A 21-year-old father of two, Garcia, 16-0 heading in, was rated #1 by the WBA and seemingly one step removed from challenging Erislandy Lara for the WBA middleweight title. But Davis, trained by Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, had a solid game plan and although Elijah came on strong in the homestretch, it was too little, too late.

One of the judges favored Garcia 98-92, but his cohorts each gave seven rounds to Davis (19-3-1, 6 KOs) and the decision was fair.

Filipino junior lightweight Mark Magsayo, in his second fight back since losing back-to-back fights with featherweight belt-holders Rey Vargas and Brandon Figueroa, advanced to 26-2 (17) with a 10-round unanimous decision over Mexico City’s Eduardo Ramirez (28-4-3). Magsayo scored a knockdown in the third round with a straight right hand and won by scores of 99-90 and 97-92 twice.

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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