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Bernard Hopkins Weighs In on Golden Boy Situation

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?The last time Bernard Hopkins registered a knockout in the ring was on Sept. 18, 2004, when he landed a left hook to the liver that put Oscar De La Hoya, gasping for breath, down and out on the canvas in the ninth round of their middleweight unification showdown at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.

?A decade later, is Hopkins prepared to again knock out the “Golden Boy,” only this time in a business sense?

?Although he insists nothing is etched in stone at this point, Hopkins, who shortly after that watershed victory a decade ago became a limited partner in De La Hoya’s company, Golden Boy Promotions, is dropping broad hints as to where his loyalties lie in the aftermath of Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer’s announcement on Monday that he had resigned that position, effective immediately.

?“It’s got to be run by somebody,” Hopkins said of Golden Boy Promotions’ now murky future. “But it’s going to be very, very difficult for Golden Boy to keep the credibility of the brand without Richard Schaefer.

?“A guy like Richard – and let me say that we don’t always agree on everything – really can’t be replaced. I’ll reiterate: Richard Schaefer cannot be replaced. Things will continue to be run (at GBP), but they won’t – can’t – be the same. Richard is a man who is stern when he needs to be stern, and fair when he needs to be fair. It’s hard to find people like that in boxing. He’s one of the biggest and most respected players there is. Even the people who don’t care for him too much on a personal level have got to respect him when it comes to the way he does his job.

?“Think about it. Who really ran Golden Boy? I’m not talking about popping up in the office once or twice a year. Who was there, doing the deals, on a day-to-day basis?”

?If that sounds like a veiled shot at De La Hoya, the occasional visitor to his own company whose relationship with his onetime close friend Schaefer has grown increasingly chilly, draw your own conclusions.

?“Oscar’s been talking to certain people,” Hopkins said, a pointed reference to the olive branch extended by De La Hoya to his former promoter and more recent adversary, Top Rank founder Bob Arum, with whom Schaefer has adamantly refused to do business. “He’s been tweeting. He showed up at Canelo’s (Alvarez) camp. OK, he’s rededicated, he’s gotten himself together, he’s burying the hatchet (with Arum). Great. But with him doing all that, is anybody really surprised that this thing with Richard happened? The only thing that’s a shock is that it took this long to go down.”

?The ramifications of the De La Hoya/Schaefer split are significant. It was Schaefer who has a close personal and working relationship with boxing’s most bankable fighter, FloydMayweather Jr., as well as with Mayweather’s influential adviser, Al Haymon, whose deep roster of fighters regularly appeared on Golden Boy cards but all of whom were not under contract to GBP. Schaefer’s resignation was quickly followed by an announcement from Leonard Ellerbee, chief executive of Mayweather Promotions, that Mayweather and, most likely, Haymon’s other A-list fighters were also severing relations with GBP. That leaves De La Hoya’s depleted stable with a new lead pony, Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs), who takes on Erislandy Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) on July 12 at the MGM Grand.

?Although it is widely presumed that Schaefer, a Swiss-born banker who had no background in boxing until he became De La Hoya’s business manager and then GBP’s CEO, will now partner up with Mayweather, Haymon and Ellerbe, there are legal issues that must be ironed out. For one thing, Schaefer – who signed a contract extension with GBP in April 2012 that Hopkins said “runs until, I think, 2017 or 2018” – remains a shareholder in the company, which could make it difficult for him to join Mayweather Promotions or some other promotional entity until the expiration of that arrangement. In a prepared statement, Schaefer indicated that he will “look forward to the next opportunity,” and that he hopes that opportunity is in boxing, but he also noted that he also is “proud to remain a shareholder, so I have a strong interest in the continued success of the company.”

?For his part, Ellerbe said, “Richard will have a tremendous impact on whatever he decides to do and wherever he goes. We always welcome smart leaders, but I don’t know what his future is.”

?Hopkins has spent his share of time in courtrooms, having engaged in bitter and ultimately litigated disputes with several of his past promoters, managers, trainers and advisers, including Butch Lewis, Don King, Bouie Fisher and Lou DiBella. He has an idea of where all this is headed.

?“You know it’s funny,” he said. “When I joined Golden Boy, people were actually betting that somehow I would find a way to screw it up. But I’m still here.”

?Yeah, but for how long? At 49, Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs), the IBF and WBA light heavyweight champion, is looking forward to another unification matchup, with WBC 175-pound titlist Adonis Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs). Whether that bout, if it comes off, is under the Golden Boy banner has yet to be determined.

?“I’m not under contract to Golden Boy,” stressed Hopkins, who added that he has spoken recently to both De La Hoya and Schaefer. “No one has asked me to come here or to stay there. I got my own team, a separate team. When all is said and done, I’m going to evaluate everything and decide to do what’s best for Bernard Hopkins. I’m going to try to be fair to everybody, but I got to look out for me first. It’s crucial for me to make the right move, whether it’s with Richard or with Oscar. I worked too hard to get here to do anything else.

?“No matter what, though, what’s going on now between them won’t affect me from getting in the ring and winning another title. I want to continue to unify the light heavyweight division, and with two titles I’m in better position to do that now, regardless of the shakeup. I could even promote my next fight myself. It won’t be an emotional decision. I’m going to align myself with the best, with the smartest, and with whoever can do the most for me at this stage of my career.”

?Hopkins was asked if the timing of Schaefer’s resignation could be interpreted as an attempt to somehow diminish De La Hoya’s induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday. He said he didn’t think so, although Schaefer will not be in Canastota, N.Y., for the ceremony, which also would seem to say a lot.

?“That’s one way to look at it,” he said of the perception some have that Schaefer is intentionally trying to detract from De La Hoya’s Hall of Fame moment. “It’s the easy way to look at it. But let’s keep it real. The last 30 or 40 days, and maybe longer, this thing has been massaged every which way. Is anybody surprised that this thing with Richard happened?

?“But I don’t think too much should be read into the timing. Fights need to be negotiated, deals need to get done, whether it’s Hall of Fame weekend or not. Look, we all have to do what we think is best. I think Richard got to the point where he just couldn’t wait another week to do what he did. He probably felt he couldn’t wait another day.”

Hopkins also said the Showtime/HBO, Golden Boy/Top Rank “Cold War” was “foolish from the beginning. A lot of fans got hurt, and are still getting hurt to this day. They’re missing out on a lot of big fights. But it is what it is.”

There was one more potential surprise offered by Hopkins, who professed admiration for Haymon, who could become part of whatever remains of his twilight as an active fighter. That statement further suggests that boxing’s ageless wonder could soon be parting ways with Golden Boy.

“I have great respect for him, and he has great respect for me, going back to the day when he came into boxing with one fighter, my friend, Vernon Forrest, `The Viper,’” Hopkins said of Haymon, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2013 Manager of the Year. “I was on the other side from him when Al was representing Jermain Taylor.

“I don’t have a contract with Al Haymon, but I wouldn’t mind having one because he knows the business and he knows how to make the moves to get you where you need to be.”

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Former World Bantamweight Champion Richie Sandoval Passes Away at Age 63

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Richie Sandoval, who won the WBA and lineal bantamweight title in one of the biggest upsets of the 1980s and then, not quite two years later, suffered near-fatal injuries in a title defense, has passed away at the age of 63.

News circulated fast in the Las Vegas boxing community on Monday, July 22, the grapevine actuated by a tweet from Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler: “Boxing and the Top Rank family lost one of our own last night in the passing of former WBA bantamweight champion Richie Sandoval. It hurts personally and professionally to know that Richie is gone at age 63. RIP campeon.”

Details are vague but the cause of death was apparently a sudden heart attack that Sandoval experienced while visiting the Southern California home of his son of the same name.

Richie Sandoval put the LA County community of Pomona, California, on the boxing map before Shane Mosley came along and gave the town a more frequently-cited mention in the sports section of the papers. He came from a fighting family. An older brother, Albert “Superfly” Sandoval, became a big draw at LA’s fabled Olympic Auditorium while building a 35-2-1 record that included a failed bid to capture Lupe Pintor’s world bantamweight title.

Richie was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic boxing team that was stranded when U.S. President Jimmy Carter (and many other world leaders) boycotted the event as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.

As a pro, Sandoval’s signature win was a 15th-round stoppage of Jeff Chandler. They fought on April 7, 1984 in Atlantic City. Chandler was making the tenth defense of his world bantamweight title.

Despite being a heavy underdog, Sandoval dominated the fight, winning almost every round until the referee stepped in and waived it off. Chandler, who was 33-1-2 heading in and had avenged his lone defeat, never fought again.

Sandoval made two successful defenses before risking his title against Gabby Canizales on the undercard of Hagler-Mugabi in the outdoor stadium at Caesars Palace. In round seven, Sandoval, who had a hellish time making the weight, was knocked down three times and suffered a seizure as he collapsed from the third knockdown. Stretchered out of the ring, he was rushed to the hospital where doctors reduced the swelling in his brain and beat the odds to save his life. This would be Richie’s lone defeat. He finished his pro career with a record of 29-1 (17 KOs).

Bob Arum cushioned some of the pain by giving Richie a $25,000 bonus and offering him a lifetime job at Top Rank which Richie accepted. And let the record show that Arum was good to his word.

A more elaborate portrait of Richie Sandoval was published in these pages in 2017. You can check it out HERE. May he rest in peace.

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Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul Vanquish Overmatched Foes in Tampa

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Amanda “the Real Deal” Serrano mowed through knockout puncher Stevie Morgan in less than two rounds on Saturday and Jake Paul soundly defeated bare knuckle champion Mike Perry by knockout too.

Paul and Serrano move on to bigger things.

“It’s feels great, it feels amazing. My 50th fight, my 31st knockout, I’m super blessed,” said Serrano.

Despite jumping up three weight divisions Serrano (47-2-1, 31 KOs) showed more than 17,000 fans and Morgan (14-2, 13 KOs) at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, how she was able to win seven weight divisions.

Fans and perhaps Katie Taylor breathed a sigh of relief that Serrano is truly back. In Serrano’s last fight she was forced to withdraw back in March due to an accident to her eye moments before a fight. Now the Puerto Rican and Irish super stars will meet in Texas on November 15.

Fans can expect a rematch of one of the greatest fights of all time.

Tonight, before walking into the boxing ring, Morgan had commented that of all the top female fighters Serrano was low hanging fruit. The Puerto Rican legend merely shrugged her shoulders and replied that she lets her fists do the talking.

Both fighters hesitated touching gloves but did. After that, Serrano immediately went into assassin’s mode and moved forward while punching like a finely tuned hemi-engine. Morgan tried to keep up but discovered Serrano was not easy to hit.

Serrano moved forward smoothly while slipping and punching. A stiff looking Morgan, whose legs seemed unbent, tried to fend off the Puerto Rican champion’s blows but was smacked repeatedly in the first round with lefts and rights.

When the bell rang to end the first round, it was obvious that Morgan was overmatched.

As the second round commenced Serrano immediately slipped into attack gear behind her southpaw defensive guard. Once again, she fired combinations while moving quickly forward against the taller Morgan.

It was even worse than the first round as Serrano unloaded a dozen unanswered blows forcing the referee to stop the fight at 38 seconds of the second round.

“I think these girls were mistaking my kindness for weakness,” said Serrano. “If you’re not on my level that’s what happens.”

Morgan quickly learned she’s not on the championship level.

“Stevie Morgan just started a little while ago. I knew it would have been a little too much for her,” said Serrano. “My hat goes off to her. It’s not easy.”

Now it’s on to Katie Taylor.

Jake Paul KOs Mike Perry

In the co-main event Jake Paul (10-1, 7 KOs) floored Mike Perry (6-1) the Bare Knuckle Champion in the first and second round of the cruiserweight fight. And then battered the smaller fighter with a jolting jab to the body and head that opened up cuts on the former MMA fighter.

Paul continued to show improvement and proved once again that whether its MMA or Bare Knuckle fighting, his boxing skills are superior to their combat champions.

“Man, he’s tough as nails. I’m sorry it took so long. Respect man. He’s the king of violence,” said Paul about his fallen foe whose nickname is the “King of Violence.”

Paul attacked the body with a strong left jab while circling slowly left and right. Perry stood straight up with a low guard and his chin up. Paul hit that chin repeatedly and eventually cracked it in the fifth round.

Perry survived.

In the sixth round the bigger blonde fighter Paul bludgeoned Perry with another left jab and then opened with a barrage of blows that blasted the bare knuckle fighter to the canvas. Though he beat the count, he stumbled and the referee stopped the fight at 1:12 of the sixth round.

“I kind of expected that,” said Paul.

Perry was honest about the outcome.

“I tried man, but the kid hit me hard,” said Perry.

Now it’s on to Mike Tyson on November 15 in Arlington, Texas.

“Mike. I love you. But this is my sport now. I’m so honored but I’m going to take your throne.”

Other Bouts

A lightweight battle between undefeated fighters saw Canada’s Lucas Bahdi (17-0, 15 KOs) lose every round until he unloaded a three-punch combination that rendered Ashton Sylve (11-1, 9 KOs) unconscious before he hit the canvas.

Sylve utilized his speed and counters for five rounds and seemed to cruise for five years. But Bahdi showed a good chin especially against lightning uppercuts that sneaked through the guard.

“He’s very twitchy and very quick. I was trying to get to his body early on,” said Bahdi. “He’s very fast and has good counter punches.

In the sixth round Sylve was opening up a little more with his hands down and Bahdi saw the opening and quickly launched a right followed by a left hook that knocked out Sylve before he hit the floor at 2:27 of the sixth round.

“I knew his head’s there in the center all the time,” said Bahdi. “I think I stole the show tonight.”

Prelim Bouts

A rematch between lightweights saw Corey Marksman (10-0-1) win by majority decision against Tony Aguilar (12-1-1) in a back-and-forth battle. Marksman out-worked Aguilar with an especially effective counter-right that scored repeatedly. Their first encounter last February ended in a draw.

Shadasia Green (14-1, 11 KOs) stumbled a bit but got the win against Natasha Spence (8-5-2) to win by unanimous decision in a super middleweight. It was her first fight since losing to Franchon Crews-Dezurn for the world title.

Green was cruising for most of the fight behind a sharp jab and rights to the body but during an offensive out burst Spence caught her with a counter right and floored her in the seventh. It was half punch and half slip, but she was knocked down.

Though Green did not get a knockout she emerged with the win 78-73, 77-74 twice.

“I had fun in there tonight,” said Green. “I belong at the top with the best.”

Alexis Chaparro (2-0) knocked out Kevin Hill (1-2) with a five-punch combination at 2:01 of the second round in a middleweight fight.

Angel Barrientes (12-1) defeated Edwin Rodriguez (12-9-2) by majority decision after six rounds in a super bantamweight fight. The scores were 57-57, 60-54 twice for Barrientes who resides in Las Vegas.

Photo credit: Esther Lin / MVP Promotions

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Nakatani Strengthens his Pound-for-Pound Credentials: Blasts Out Astrolabio

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Junto Nakatani is the best 118-pound boxer in the world. Tonight, in Tokyo, he reinforced that judgment with a first-round knockout of Vincent Astrolabio at Japan’s national sumo arena. A short left to the solar plexus left the Filipino writhing on the canvas. He tried to rise but fell back down, forcing referee Tom Taylor to waive it off. It was all over in less than three minutes, 2:37 to be precise. Nakatani (28-0, 21 KOs) was making the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title after previously winning title belts at 112 and 115.

Tall for the weight class at five-foot-seven-and-a-half, the 26-year-old Japanese southpaw produced his second highlight reel knockout in his last four fights. The first come in May of last year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where he scored a frightening, 12th-round one-punch knockout of Andrew Moloney.

Nakatani won’t have to travel far to unify the belt. The other three current bantamweight champions are also Japanese. Down the road, potentially, is a showdown with countryman Naoya Inoue. That match, should it transpire, would be the biggest domestic fight in Japanese boxing history. Astrolabio, who had been stopped only once previously and was making his second stab at a world title, declined to 18-5.

Other Title Fight

LA’s Anthony Olascuaga, a stablemate of Nakatani (both train in LA under the tutelage of Rudy Hernandez), won the vacant WBO flyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Riku Kanu. A left uppercut put Kano (22-5) on the deck for the full count. The official time was 2:50 of round three.

Olascuaga (7-1, 5 KOs) was rucked out of obscurity in April of last year when he dropped down a weight class and performed far better than expected, albeit in a losing effort, against Kenshiro Teraji, a fight that he took on 10 days’ notice. Despite his inexperience and the locale, the LA fighter entered the ring a consensus 3/1 favorite over Kanu.

Also

In his first 10-rounder, ever-improving Tenshin Nasukawa (4-0, 2 KOs) stopped U.S. invader Jonathan Rodriguez in the third round. Five unanswered punches climaxed by a straight left ended matters at the 1:49 mark. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 120 pounds.

Nasukawa, a baby-faced, 25-year-old southpaw, transitioned to boxing after becoming famous in Japan for his kickboxing exploits. His first foray into boxing was an exhibition with Floyd Mayweather who knocked him out in the opening round, but he’s made considerable progress since then.

Against Rodriguez, Nasakawa was dominant from the get-go. Rodriguez was in dire straits as the second round ended. The first fighter from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to fight in Japan, Rodriguez (17-3-1) joins the ranks of one-hit wonders. He scored a shocking first-round KO of former title-holder Khalid Yafai, but then lost his very next fight en route to this affair.

The promotion lost a bit of luster when the title fight between WBO 115-pound belt-holder Kosei Tanaka and Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Rodriguez (no relation to Nasukawa’s opponent of the same name) fell out when Rodriguez weighed a staggering six pounds over the limit.

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