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“The Fight Game” Recap; Quick Mention of Beadlegate, Takedowns of “Super” Fight

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HBO ace Jim Lampley trotted out another edition of his “The Fight Game” on Tuesday night, and but of course, the issue of Mayweather-Pacquiao popped up, in several contexts.

Lampley gave us a pound for pound top five. Mayweather he mentioned first; then Gennady Golovkin, the high risk hitter came next; then Roman Gonzalez, the flyweight stud, who fights on HBO May 16; then Sergey Kovalev. Vasily Lomachenko, who Lamps called “incomparable” in terms of his skills package, finished the pack.

Lampley said tix and hotel prices dropped at MayPac and then told us about the sights and sounds from fight week. We saw cheering fans, hopeful, ready to see Pacman unseat the king of the ring; the video left me cold, as I’m sure it did you, as I compared the hype to the sad reality; we heard Pacman say he thought he won, and then Michelle Beadle showed up to chat.

It was to be her first prize fight, she told us. She said she thought she was credentialed but was told that her “credentials were up in the air.” She decided then that she’d not hang around to wait. What was the public takeaway from the event? “A lot of hype and a lot money for very little,” she stated. “Almost too much hype for almost anyone to live up to.”

It was a micro-hit, very, very short. More would have been more, I think, as viewers could have been informed of a world they get no entrance into seeing, first hand, that of the desire of handlers to micro-manage message for their celeb clients.

Lampley talked about the Provodnikov-Matthysse fight, and we saw video and heard Lampley narration. He thinks it’s the fight of the year favorite as of right now, though Provo’s slow start may keep it out of the winner’s circle come the next BWAA dinner. (We know that Mayweather-Pacman ain’t getting first prize, that’s for sure. And I wonder if Floyd will win Fighter of the Year, too?) The host said a bout might be surpassed by a bout that had knockdowns; I’d bet yes.

Next, we saw Wladimir Klitschko vs. Bryant Jennings action. Lampley said the fight was not a thriller and Wlad fought too much like he did his last time in NYC. Can’t always get what we want..

The Anti-Gatti list, the frustrators, was next. Floyd, then Wlad, then Guilllermo Rigondeaux, Miguel Vasquez, an “unbashed runner,” and Erislandy Lara, all guys not like Mr. Gatti made the hit list..

Lampley touched on “the ultraviolent” James Kirkland and his on-again, off-again career. The Austin, Texan’s trainer Ann Wolfe, not in the fold for the next bout, talked exciteldly about the mayhem her guy is known for. Flesh off face is her desire…We saw what happened when Kirkland was sans Wolfe, when Nobuhiro Ishida dropped and stopped Kirkland. Kirkland beat Alfredo Angulo, then was unimpressive versus Carlos Molina. He took 20 months off and beat Glen Tapia, who fights Friday night in Newark. 18 more months passed and he will be with an unknown trainer to try and handle the rock-solid Canelo.

Max Kellerman was asked about MayPac; he called it a net minus, as this wasn’t the best of boxing on display. It was “the most boring and predictable outcome,” Max said. What about the Wlad win? There is an appetite for heavyweight boxing, but the Wlad win wasn’t fan friendly. Can’t forget Deontay Wilder, Max said. “There’s a groundswell of hope” regarding the Bronze Bomber, he said.

Canelo is that much more important because Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has imploded, said Jim and Max. Canelo needs to pick up the baton and run proud, Max said.

They discussed Gennady Golovkin versus Willie Monroe; Monroe has no chance, Max said, with beyond-admirable candor.

To kick off, Lampley had us looking at video of the Mayweather rubout. The punches in bunches and trap-setting didn’t fly for Pacman, he said. We didn’t get danger, and it was a “generic Mayweather win.” Fans didn’t much enjoy it, he told us.

Bernard Hopkins, who seems to have supplanted Andre Ward, joined Jim and talked about Floyd’s skills. Hopkins, still finding his way as a talking head, seeking a comfort level, said MM has his opponents playing his tune, and he plays the “hit and not get hit tune” ever so capably. Head movement, foot placement, he’s got it all, said the elder master. Will he indeed retire at 49-0? No, said Hopkins, he will follow his nickname, and the money, and that record, which Floyd pretends to not care about.

Lampley gave us a pound for pound top five. Mayweather he mentioned first; then Gennady Golovkin, the high risk hitter came next; then Roman Gonzalez, the flyweight stud, who fights on HBO May 16; then Sergey Kovalev. Vasily Lomachenko, who Lamps called “incomparable” in terms of his skills package, finished the pack.

Lampley closed strong with discussion of MayPac. He touched on the 1 percent element, how this fight wasn’t for “the fans” but rather the monied elite, only they could get close, and the power of social media to distort, the nature of super fights, and their ability to amaze, or bore. He looked hard at Mayweathers’ handlers’ trying to muffle press, and also Manny’s shoulder excuse. Plenty of shame to go around…He said drug testing was not Olympic style, and wondered why USDADA costs more than six times as much as VADA’s efforts? (Indeed, I was frustrated by the lack of response on a few occasions from USADA when I reached out to them, to ask about testing specifics. To be fair, I’m sure there was a deluge. But then hire more help to deal with it. Ultra transparency is paramount, and we didn’t get it, not even close, in my opinion.) The fight was a downer and we could have predicted that, what with the immensity of the hype, the host said.

PPV is a downer for viewers when the product stunk, he said. He said there will be no rematch, because there will be no market for ir. There is plenty of product out there, though, and maybe the next super fight will live up to the hype, featuring a “Cossack versus a Mexican.”

“Let’s see if Paris Hilton shows up for that one!”

Note: I would have liked more discussion and a harder edge concerning how the press was (mis)treated. Lampley’s stature could move the needle a half tick if he came out a bit harder on the matter, such as how HBO’s Tom Hauser’s credential was pulled, in retaliation for appearing, it seems, with Rachel Nichols to discuss her credential issue, and Mayweathers’ domestic violence record.

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Canelo Pummels Yildirin Into Submission in Three One-Sided Frames

David A. Avila

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Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez dismissed Avni Yildirim like a bothersome fly to retain the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles by technical knockout in a mandatory fight on Saturday.

Challenge completed.

After less than three months from his last victory, Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs) returned to the boxing ring and battered Turkey’s Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) to submission at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Callum Smith or Yildirim please take your seat.

It was just 70 days ago that Alvarez took the WBA title away from England’s Smith but the Mexican redhead was eager to return to the ring and dominated Yildirim like the former sparring partner he was.

It was hardly a contest.

Yildirim spent most of 2020 working with Southern California’s famed trainer Joel Diaz, but there is only so much a teacher can teach. Regardless of the expertise given to the Turkish fighter the trainer can’t jump in the boxing ring. Despite repeated admonishments by Diaz, his fighter just could not pull the trigger.

“It doesn’t matter who trains him I just do my work and listen to my corner,” said Alvarez “I feel very strong at this weight.”

Alvarez pummeled Yildirim like a punching bag early and often during the first two rounds. Left and right uppercuts pierced through Yildirim’s guard and body shots pummeled the body. Return fire was seldom exchanged.

After two rounds of sustaining punishment to the head and body, Yildirim attempted to fire back. He paid for his gamble with a counter right fired through the guard by Canelo and down went the challenger.

Though Yildirim survived the third-round knockdown, as he returned to the corner his trainer Diaz warned that another round like the third would force a stoppage. Diaz decided after further inspection to end the fight then and there at the end of the third round.

“I said I would get the knockout and I got the knockout,” said Alvarez.

The win sets up a showdown with England’s Billy Joe Saunders who holds the WBO super middleweight world title.

“This year it’s going to be very special against BJ Saunders,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn who is planning their encounter for May 8. “It’s going to be one of the biggest fights of the year.”

Canelo said he is eager for the pending encounter.

“He’s a difficult fighter. He has the WBO title and we need to go for him,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez said his plans are to continue making history as a Latino fighter winning undisputed world titles in the super middleweight division.

“In Latin America it hasn’t been done,” Alvarez said. “I want to make history.”

Other Bouts

McWilliams Arroyo walked through Abraham Rodriguez’s punches and won by technical knockout in the fifth round to win the interim WBC flyweight title.

Despite a change of opponents within the last week Arroyo (21-4, 15 KOs) was able to adapt to last-minute opponent Rodriguez (27-3, 13 KOs) and work the body and head until the Mexican fighter’s corner tossed in the white towel to end the fight at 1:41 of the fifth round.

A battle of heavyweights between China’s Zhilei Zhang (22-0-1, 17 KOs) and America’s Jerry Forrest (26-4-1) ended in a majority draw after 10 rounds. Despite three early knockdowns scored by Zhang, the momentum changed after Forrest attacked the body inside. The scores were 95-93 Forrest and 93-93 twice for a majority draw.

In a super middleweight fight between two extremely tall prospects Diego Pacheco (11-0, 8 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Rodolfo Gomez Jr. after eight rounds. No knockdowns were scored between the two fighters who each towered at 6-feet 4-inches.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Results from Auckland: Parker UD 12 Fa; Ahio KO 7 Long

Arne K. Lang

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New Zealand heavyweights Joseph Parker and Junior Fa met four times as amateurs and each man won twice. On Saturday night in Auckland, they met for the first time as professionals and the heavily favored Parker broke the deadlock with a 12-round unanimous decision.

The bout beat the clock, in a fashion. During the match the crowd at the waterfront arena, estimated at 8,500, was informed that Auckland was reverting to Phase Three effective at 6:00 in the morning, following the discovery of a new Covid-19 infection. That meant, among other things, that public gatherings would be restricted to 10 people and schools would be open only to the children of essential workers.

The fight was a rather drab affair in which both men had trouble landing clean punches, perhaps owing partly to ring rust. Parker (28-2, 21 KOs) was making his first start in 12 months; Fa (19-1, 10 KOs) had been inactive since November of 2019.

Parker, the former world title challenger who went the distance with Anthony Joshua, had the upper hand in the early rounds and opened a small cut over Fa’s left eye in the seventh round, perhaps the result of an errant elbow. The cut became larger and bled profusely as the bout continued but it was never in danger of being stopped.

Parker had a worried look on his face as he awaited the reading of the scores, but he had nothing to fear. The judges had it 115-113, 117-111, and a head-scratching 119-109.

After the fight, Parker said, “It was a lot closer than we expected.”

Ahio vs. Long

The undercard was rubbish, but the Ahio-Long fight warrants a mention. A stablemate of Junior Fa, Hemi Ahio improved to 17-0 (12) with a wicked seventh-round knockout of Julius Long who was thoroughly gassed when Ahio caught him against the ropes and landed his haymaker. They had previously met in a 6-round affair that went the distance.

If the name Julius Long sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because he’s been around since 2001. Listed at seven-foot-one but likely an inch or two shorter, the boxer nicknamed the Towering Inferno came to New Zealand in 2013 to serve as a sparring partner for David Tua and never left.

Nearly 15 full years have elapsed since Long was whacked out in the opening round by Samuel Peter on a Duva Promotions card at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino.

George Kimball was ringside for TSS and described the scene: “The overmatched Long had already been down once when Peter smashed him with a left-right combination…(Long) hit the ropes with such force that he shot back off them like he was bouncing from a trampoline. Unfortunately for Long, the slingshot effect propelled him straight into the path of the right hand Peter had dispatched toward his head, effectively doubling the force of the blow. Long went down as if he had been whacked with a sledgehammer and lay motionless on the canvas. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr waved it off without a count, but he could have counted to 100.”

Long is now 43 years old. Since his crushing defeat by Samuel Peter, he is 4-17-1 and counting his defeat last night has been stopped seven more times. For his rematch with Akio, he weighed in at 326 ¾ pounds, more than 100 pounds more than his opponent.

In his adopted home, Julius Long, who grew up in Detroit, is a qualified chef, an occupation that requires an apprenticeship and many hours of training. He supplements his income moonlighting as a freelance prizefighter. By all accounts, he’s a very likeable man, but someone needs to take away his boxing gloves and burn them.

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The Winning Purse Bid for Teofimo’s Next Fight has the Boxing World Buzzing

Arne K. Lang

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The big buzz this week in boxing was the enormous fee ponied up by the video-sharing, social-networking service Triller to lasso Teofimo Lopez’s lightweight title defense against IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos. Triller didn’t merely out-bid Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom and Bob Arum’s Top Rank, but out-bid them by a whopping margin. Triller’s purse bid was $6.02 million compared with $3.51 million for Matchroom and $2.32 million for Top Rank.

Triller’s initial venture into boxing was the Nov. 28, 2020 show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, a three-hour boxing and music festival, the centerpiece of which was an 8-round exhibition between 55-year-old Mike Tyson and 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. There were four legitimate supporting bouts — legitimate in the sense that the competitors were active professional boxers – plus a freak fight between YouTuber Jake Paul and former NBA point guard Nate Robinson.

When the event was announced, it was panned by hard-core boxing fans, but it was slickly promoted and received a considerable amount of ink from both mainstream sports and gossip magazines. At a list price of $49.99, the event purportedly attracted 1.8 million pay-per-view buys which translated into a gross profit of more than $80 million. The honchos at Triller gambled that folks were still infatuated with Mike Tyson, an astute apprehension, but hedged their bets by conjoining the exhibition with non-traditional boxing fare and they came out a big winner.

Tyson vs. Jones was a pop culture event and the shebang itself, noted Thomas Hauser, was best understood as an infomercial. Triller’s core demographic is urbanites aged 15 to 27, the so-called hip-hop generation, and the company is playing catch-up in a fierce two-horse race for market share with China-based TikTok, an Internet phenomenon.

The driving force behind Triller is 47-year-old Hollywood hustler Ryan Kavanaugh who made it big with Relativity Media, a firm that arranged financing for movie projects, but left a few bodies in its wake. The firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015 and again in 2018.

Kavanaugh’s business dealings came under scrutiny again this month when Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, pulled its catalog from Triller because Triller wasn’t paying its artists. In its response, Triller noted that many of the top earners in MSG are shareholders in Triller. Triller’s most prominent shareholder is rapper Snoop Dogg whose waggish commentary for the Tyson-Jones exhibition was widely hailed as the highlight of the telecast.

When the Teofimo vs. Kombosos match was announced, it was immediately speculated that it would be hinged to another Mike Tyson exhibition, perhaps against his nemesis Evander Holyfield. Kavanaugh insists that won’t happen. As for the date and location, that too is up in the air with the best guess being that it will be anchored in Miami, likely in May. It can’t happen in Australia, where Kambosos resides, unless the authorities relax the rule that requires visitors to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the country.

The deal with Triller may mark the end of Teofimo’s partnership with Top Rank. If so, Bob Arum is nonplussed. By rule, Teofimo Lopez, as the defending champion, is entitled to 65 percent of the purse. He is contractually obligated to give Top Rank 20 percent, nearly $800,000. Lou DiBella, who promotes George Kambosos, also comes out a big winner.

Who is George Kambosos?

The headline in an English-language, on-line publication directed at the Greek community reads “Undefeated Greek boxing sensation….” That’s over the top. In the click-bait era, words like “sensation” have wide currency.

Kambosos, born and raised in Sydney, Australia, of Greek ancestry (his grandparents are from Sparta) is indeed undefeated: 19-0 (10 KOs). But until recently he was best known as Manny Pacquaio’s sparring partner. He worked in three of Pacquiao’s camps and, by his reckoning, sparred about 250 rounds with the Filipino legend.

Kambosos won his last two fights by split decision. On Dec. 14, 2019, he outpointed former IBF world lightweight champion Mickey Bey at Madison Square Garden. On Oct. 31 of last year, he outpointed former IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby at Wembley Arena. Neither bout was the featured attraction. Kambosos vs. Bey was underneath Terence Crawford vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Kambosos vs. Selby was the chief supporting bout to the heavyweight contest between Oleksandr Usyk and Dereck Chisora.

Kambosos punctuated his win over Bey with a knockdown in the final round, but would have prevailed without it. There was no controversy when his hand was raised. Similarly, his triumph over Selby was generally well-received although few fans would have quibbled if the match had been scored a draw.

In a 2019 interview, Freddie Roach said of Kambosos that he was very quick with hand-speed on a par with PacMan. The biggest difference between the two, said Roach, was Pacquiao’s superior footwork.

Roach may have been diplomatic when he said that the Aussie had the potential to go all the way as Kambosos will be a big underdog when he steps into the ring against Teofimo Lopez who figures to close in the 12/1 range. And the pre-fight pub will be all about Teofimo, in common with the Tyson-Jones exhibition where all the pre-fight hype was about Iron Mike.

This reporter bumped into Mickey Bey yesterday afternoon. Bey noted that he was hampered going into his fight with George Kambosos as he did not have the benefit of a full training camp. He took the fight on three-and-a-half weeks notice and had been out of the ring for 14 months.

The personable Bey, who is transitioning to the role of a trainer, waxed euphoric about Devin Haney who he regards as a once-in-a-generation talent. “I really believe he has a chance to surpass Floyd,” he said, referencing Floyd Mayweather’s 50-0 mark. “Haney is better right now than Floyd was at the same age.”

That’s open to debate, but Devin Haney, currently 25-0, is halfway there and he’s only 22 years old. Whether he stays at 135 or moves up to 140, he will have to run through a gauntlet to get through the next few years unscathed. Both divisions are brimming with talent.

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