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Discussing Floyd Vs. Golovkin and “TBE” at 160, or 154

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No, I do not sit around and clench my fists, and spend my energies on hoping and wishing and praying that Floyd Mayweather will get beat.

So when I put forth the notion that I think the man who calls himself TBE should tiptoe his most talented tush up to 160 pounds, so that he might find someone who can test him, I can’t be dismissed as a hater, as an anti-Floyd guy who wants him to get his comeuppance at the hands of a stronger man.

Now, do I think it’s debatable whether he is the BEST representation for our sport, whether the sport as a whole is best served by having Floyd as it’s top dog? I do…and I think I’d take the stance that long-term the sport would be helped by having a more humble, less money focused, more offensive minded pugilist leading its charge. But that doesn’t mean I dismiss the mans’ chops. Floyd Mayweather is among the best ever as a defender, he’s a defensive savant, and though I don’t consider him really to be in the TBE mix simply because I personally believe offense is at least 75% the most important component when you are choosing traits of TBE, I do scream to the heavens that he’s the best technical prizefighter of his generation.

But is he fan friendly to watch? No. One, because he doesn’t fully commit offensively, and whether that’s because he has brittle hands or is risk averse, that’s his reasoning to share, or not.

Because he is so far and away more talented than anyone he steps in with, there is a distinct lack of drama when we watch Floyd. He makes A grade fighters looks C grade, makes the Pacquiaos and Canelos look like comparative amateurs.

So, should he make the leap up to 168, to get in with Andre Ward? That is a bridge too far, though I have in the past pondered having Ward drain to 164 to make that fantasy fight…but I think a middle ground, a leap from 154, where he’s fought and performed well at, to 160, isn’t asking too much from the man who asks us to call him TBE.

Of course, his passionate backers will take to Twitter and defend him like they are getting paid to do so.

Woods, he’s not even a welterweight, they will cry..bizarrely, to me, as he totally is that, the best welterweight in the world…oh, and he’s the best junior middle in the world, to boot. They say “he’s a welterweight” like this is a guy who loads his pockets with lead to appear heavier than he is.

And I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s the best middleweight in the world, too.

Yep, I think if Floyd stepped to the line, and agreed to fight Gennady Golovkin, he’d better Golovkin.

That same instinct to protect the chin would be in effect if “Money” gave us that big drama show against the mean-fisted hitter from Kazahkstan. Would there be risk for Floyd? Uh, yeah, sure. There is risk for anyone gloving up in a pro bout, basically. But I sort of think his risk to reward ratio has been pretty kind to him to this point, no?

His backers will go back to pointing out how small he is, tell you that he walks around at 155 pounds max…and use a tone which suggests he’s a woeful defender, who will be thrown to the wolves if he takes on a man in a weight class a step up from 154, where Floyd has held a belt. They use a tone which they don’t employ for the dozens of other boxers who ply their trade with the grim knowledge that they are burning off brain cells, risking CTE, as they eat punches. Robert Guerrero, he eats a dozen filthy power punches a fight now, and his brain pain gets rattled all the time, and the Floyd fans seem OK with that fact. But asking the guy who says he’s TBE to go out of his comfort zone, to a place where in fact the other guy might have the sort of power which could bother Mayweather, they make like that is asking for the sun and moon and stars. And…maybe it is.

Maybe those Golovkin fists are simply sledgehammers, and Floyd is too undersized to safely repel them. I posed this scenario to a guy who can speak to taking punches from someone who possesses a heavy power edge, Daniel Geale.

He was dropped twice by Miguel Cotto on Saturday night, and was in against a person who had a vast power edge over him, as, I guess, Triple G would over Floyd.

Geale doesn’t possess the defensive skills that Floyd does, so that power edge became significantly apparent to the masses at Barclays Center and on HBO. I asked Geale, what about it, is it asking too much for Floyd Mayweather to hop up six pounds, take his majestic skills to the middleweight division, to face off against a man regarded as an A grade middleweight, Gennady Golovkin?

“I believe so, I think it’s asking too much,” Geale told me. “And if he gets beat, then everyone will say, Well, he shouldn’t a went up in weight. He’s fighting guys so much bigger, so much stronger…and he is so skilled..but it just takes on punch. Boxing is a sport, you get hit with one punch, it can change a fighters’ career, a fight. I want to see him gets tested. But I’m not sure about him going up that far. Maybe he will out-box Golovkin but, who knows?”

Indeed; I think sometimes I think more of Floyd’s talent than some of his fans do. I think he handles middleweight, deals with and defuses Golovkin, but I think we will never know. Anyway, I will continue to add input from other boxers and such.

No surprise, Golovkins’ trainer Abel Sanchez thinks Floyd should step to the line. “If you want to be considered as one of the greatest ever you have to take on challenges a mortal man could not and would not, time has shown us that,” Sanchez told me. “That jump is very possible, one of the GREATEST lightweights ever Roberto Duran moved up two weight divisions and challenged the great Sugar Ray Leonard and then jumped up two more weight divisions and fought the established great middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler, both fights were of the boxing history-making kind.”

He continued: “It appears that most observers do not consider GGG a proven champion, a hype some say, unlike the previous greats (mentioned at time they fought), so the weight should not be an issue, even though GGG has stated he would consider a lighter weight, Floyd vs GGG would go down as one of those history making fights.”

People need to be reminded that the true greats did leap up in weight class back in the day, Sanchez told me. “It is so easy to throw the “The Greatest Ever” monicker around, in order for it to apply it has to be compared to something, the real greats of the past,” he stated.

Sanchez doubled back a couple days later, to add a thought:

“A thought: How would a fight between Floyd vs Hagler be looked at, at middleweight, would Floyd be too small still? If that fight is possible in the minds of GGG haters and not against GGG, imagine what would the outcome of GGG vs Hagler would be.”

Shane Mosley doesn’t think Floyd is suited to fight GGG at 160. “I don’t think Mayweather fights at middleweight, he is just too small,” Mosley told me. “GGG would have to come down and fight him at 154. Mayweather is really like a 140 pounder. Even if they met at 154 it would be a hard fight cause GGG is a natural 160.”

And really, is the power SOOO different at 154 and 160?

“The power could be really different,” he said. “Depends on the fighter and what kind of snap they have.”

Do you think Floyd couldn’t fight anyone at 160?

“I don’t know,” Mosley said.  “He could come up against certain fighters but not GGG.”

Tureano Johnson told me he thinks damn straight, Floyd could do a fight at 160. The Bahamian middleweight said that, “A naturally big middleweight, like Triple G, would be too much. But the Cottos, Geales, Moras and Monroes, I think Mayweather could beat. And yes, I think Triple G beats Floyd…to the body.”

Promoter Tom Loeffler is happy to have his kid carve and starve to 154. Well, not happy, but accepting of the fact that Floyd works the system and sucks every bit of leverage out of a deal that he can. “We don’t want 154, but for Floyd Gennady would come down to 154,” Loeffler told me.

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A Conversation with Legendary Phoenix Boxing Writer Norm Frauenheim

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It seems all along that Norm Frauenheim was destined to become a boxing writer.

Two critical elements were at play that led the 75-year-old scribe to that profession.

“I was always interested in boxing, even as a kid,” said Frauenheim who spent 31 years with the Arizona Republic beginning in 1977. “I’m an Army brat. I was born in January 1949 on a base, Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, a city I didn’t really see until I hit the NBA road covering the [Phoenix] Suns for more than a decade starting in 1979-80.”

Frauenheim, a longtime correspondent for The Ring magazine who writes for various boxing sites such as boxingscene.com and 15rounds.com, added more background: “One of the many places I lived was Schofield Barracks on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu from 1962 to 1966,” he continued. “I delivered The Stars & Stripes to troops with the 25th Infantry Division, which was headed to Vietnam, along with my dad.

“Anyway, boxing and Schofield have long been linked, mostly because of a novel and film, ‘From Here to Eternity’ (the James Jones novel starring Frank Sinatra on the big screen). The troops were still boxing, outdoors, at the barracks along my newspaper route. I was 13 to 17 years old. I’d stop, watch and get interested. I’ve been interested ever since.”

Frauenheim added: “From there, my father and family shipped to Fort Sheridan, then a base north of Chicago where I spent one year and graduated from high school. Then my dad went back to Vietnam and I went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville (1967 through 1971) and graduated with a major in history. I was also a competitive swimmer, pre-Title IX.

“Competitive swimming is also at the roots of my sportswriting career. I was frustrated that Vanderbilt’s student newspaper didn’t cover us. I offered to do it. The newspaper agreed. I don’t swim as well as I used to. I look at a surfboard and look at the waves I used to take on and wondered what in the hell I was doing. It’s a lot safer to be at ringside.”

After a more than five-decade stint covering boxing, Frauenheim is glad that the manly sport is still around but with more outside competition.

“It’s surely not the [Muhammad] Ali era. It’s not the Golden 80s, either. It’s a fractured business in a world with more and more options for sports fans. MMA is just one example,” he said. “Boxing is not dying. It has been declared dead, ad nauseam. I read the inevitable obits and think of an old line: Boxing has climbed out of more coffins than Count Dracula.

“Still, the sport has been pushed to the fringe of public interest. But it’s been there before. Resiliency is one of its strongest qualities. It’ll be around, always reinventing itself.”

In some respects, boxing, like the other sports, has always been dependent on rivalries like the NBA’s Celtics versus Lakers, which drives the public’s interest and storylines.

“[Larry] Bird-Magic [Johnson] was basketball’s Ali-[Joe] Frazier,” Frauenheim says. “It transformed the league, setting the stage for Michael Jordan. It can happen again, in boxing or any other sport.”

Boxing is still the same but with tweaks here and there.

“When I started, championship bouts were 15 rounds instead of 12,” said Frauenheim who began his journalism career in 1970 at the Tallahassee Democrat and worked at the Jacksonville Journal before being lured in Phoenix. “There were morning weigh-ins instead of the day-before promotional show. There was also a lot more media. A big fight in Vegas meant all of the big media people were there. The last time that happened was Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, a fight that failed to meet expectations and I think eroded much of the big media’s appetite for more,” continued Frauenheim whose byline has appeared in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

Mexican legend Saul Alvarez is still a major draw, but there are others on the horizon who are ready to step in and take over like the undefeated super middleweight David Benavidez.

“The clock is ticking on Canelo’s career, and I think he knows it. At this point, it’s about risk-reward. The 27-year-old Benavidez is too big a risk. Canelo, I think, looks at Benavidez and thinks he’ll beat him. I don’t think he would,” Frauenheim noted. “Benavidez is too big, has a mean streak and possesses a rare extra gear. He gets stronger in the late rounds.

“Even if Canelo wins, there’s a pretty good chance that Benavidez hurts him. There’s still a chance Canelo-Benavidez happens. But I think it’ll take some Saudi [Arabian] money.”

Boxers stand alone in the ring, literally and figuratively, but have a small supporting crew.

This makes them unique compared to baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

“Boxers are different from any other athlete I’ve ever covered. It’s why, I guess, boxing has been called a writer’s sport. There are plenty of NFL and NBA players who have grown up on the so-called mean streets,” Frauenheim said. “But they have teammates. They don’t make that long, lonely walk from the dressing room to the ring.”

Stripped naked, boxers are an open book, according to Frauenheim.

“They can be hard to deal with while training and cutting weight. But after a fight, no athlete in my experience is more forthcoming,” he said. “Win or lose, they just walked through harm’s way in front of people. In my experience, that’s when they want to talk.”

Selecting a career highlight or highlights isn’t easy for Frauenheim, but he tried.

“There are so many. I was there for the great Sugar Ray Leonard victory over Thomas Hearns [1981], a welterweight classic,” he recalled. “A personal favorite was Michael Carbajal’s comeback from two knockdowns for a KO of Humberto Gonzalez in 1993, perhaps the best fight in the history of the lightest weight class. I was also there for the crazy, including Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield’s “Bite Fight” and the “Fan Man” landing in the ring like the 82nd Airborne Division midway through a Riddick Bowe-Holyfield fight behind Vegas’ Caesars Palace.”

Three boxers set the tone and backdrop for Frauenheim’s illustrious tenure as a writer.

“Roberto Duran is the greatest lightweight ever. His lifestyle sometimes got the best of him. That was evident in his infamous ‘No Mas’ welterweight loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in New Orleans,” he said of that November 1980 bout. “He told me that he took the rematch, on short notice, because of the money. “Women-women-women, eating-eating-eating, drinking-drinking-drinking,” he told me in an interview of what he had been doing before Leonard’s people approached him for an immediate rematch of his Montreal victory. But take a look at Duran’s victory in Montreal [June 1980]. Watch it again. On that night, there’s never been a better fighter than Duran.”

Frauenheim added another titan to that short list: “Leonard, who is the last real Sugar,” he said, and ended with the only eight-weight division king. “Manny Pacquiao, an amazing story about a starving kid off impoverished Filipino streets. He was a terrific fighter, blessed with speed, power and instinct. Add to that a shy personality unchanged by all the money and celebrity. He is an example of what can still happen in boxing. He’s the face of the game’s resiliency.”

That’s quite a trio, and they’re the best of the best that Frauenheim’s seen and covered from ringside.

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Aaron McKenna and Kieron Conway Victorious in Osaka

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Aaron McKenna scored a 10th-round stoppage of Jeovanny Estela today (Monday, July 15) in Osaka, Japan. The bout was one of four scheduled 10-rounders in the middleweight division in a revamped Prizefighter Tournament with a $1,000,000 prize at stake for the winner.

One of two fighting brothers from the little town of Smithborough in County Monaghan, Ireland, the undefeated (19-0, 10 KOs) McKenna (pictured) was well ahead on the scorecards when the referee stepped in and halted the match at the 2:02 mark of the final round. He entered the ring a 4/1 favorite over Estela (14-1), a 23-year-old Floridian of Puerto Rican descent who began his pro career at 147.

McKenna’s opponent in the next round (at a date and place to be determined) will be England’s Kieron Conway (21-3-1, 6 KOs) who scored a seventh-round stoppage over China’s obscure Ainiwaer Yilixati (19-2). All three of Conway’s losses were to opponents who were undefeated when he fought them with two of those setbacks occurring on Canelo Alvarez undercards.

Two Japanese fighters – Riku Kunimoto and Kazuto Takesako – were victorious in the other bouts and will meet in the semifinals.

Local fan favorite Kunimoto, recognized as the middleweight champion of Japan, advanced to 12-1 (6 KOs) with a fifth-round stoppage of countryman Eiki Kani (8-5-3). This was a rematch. The two fought earlier this year in Nagoya with Kunimoto registering a fifth-round TKO.

Takesako (17-2-1, 15 KOs) registered the lone upset on the card with a hard-earned decision over England’s Mark Dickinson. It was the first pro loss for Dickinson who had only six pro fights under his belt but was a highly decorated amateur. The scores were 98-92, 97-93, and 95-94.

The next fight for Kunimoto will be another rematch. Takesako saddled him with his lone defeat, knocking him out in the first round at Tokyo’s venerable Korakuen Hall in May of 2021.

The tournament, co-sponsored by Matchroom and televised on DAZN, offers an aggregate $100,000 per event for knockouts. McKenna, Conway, and Kunimoto scooped up $25,000 apiece.

Aaron McKenna, his brother Stephen, and their father/trainer Feargal McKenna were the subjects of a story that ran on these pages. Stephen McKenna (14-0, 13 KOs) returns to the ring next month against 14-2 Joe Laws on a BOXXER promotion that will air on Sky Sports in the UK.

Aaron McKenna entered the Prizefighter Tourney as the pre-fight favorite and Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn has indicated that he will be in line for a world title shot if he wins his next two matches.

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Results and Recaps from Philly where ‘Boots’ Ennis Stomped Out David Avanesyan

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — On what Matchroom Boxing Promotions called the most important night in Philadelphia boxing in over 40 years, Jaron “Boots” Ennis (32-0, 29 KOs), the current IBF welterweight champion from the city of Brotherly Love, attracted a larger-than-expected crowd of 14,119 to the Wells Fargo Center where he stopped David Avanesyan who was pulled out after five rounds. In Avanesyan (30-5-1, 18 KOs), Ennis looked to impress on two fronts, both commercially and critically.

It didn’t take long for there to be some excitement after Ennis landed a clean jab that caused Avanesyan to stagger momentarily. Ennis turned southpaw and the action stopped after Ennis landed a low blow. Rounds two and three saw both fighters decide to fight on the inside. Ennis was able to land crisp upper cuts while only getting hit with a few shots in exchange. After four rounds, the evidence was clear that Avanesyan was getting hit with clean shots as his face started to get busted up. Avanesyan had a moment when he landed a right hand that got the attention of the crowd and Ennis.

In return, Ennis continued to press forward, this time behind a straight left and combinations. A huge overhand left floored Avanesyan who rose to his feet. Round five ended with Ennis landing some clean power shots that had Avanesyan looking deflated. The ringside physician called an end to the fight after the conclusion of round five.

After the fight, Ennis agreed that he would love the opportunity to fight Terence Crawford if Crawford were to win next month, this despite not having the type of performance that he would have loved to have had after having a year-long lay-off. Eddie Hearn mentioned that he would love to have Ennis return to Philadelphia sometime in October or November if the Crawford fight can’t be made in a possible unification fight.

Other Bouts

After three pedestrian rounds, what sounded like it would be a grudge match between Jahlil Hackett (9-0, 7 KOs) and Pete Dobson (16-2) finally turned into a fight in the fourth. With both fighters finally warming up, Hackett used his jab to continue to work his way inside to land power combinations. Dobson was forced to back up into the ropes and take shots after a large lump formed on his forehead above his left eye.

The action settled down after the sixth round with Hackett taking total control. He continued to work behind an educated jab that stunted any offensive attack that Dobson tried to muster. After all ten rounds, two of the judges saw the fight 97-93, while the third had it 96-94 all in favor of Jahlil Hackett.

Skye Nicolson (11-0, 1 KO), the 2020 Tokyo Olympian and current WBC featherweight champion, utilized her skills in every way to defeat Dayan Vargas (18-2, 12 KOs). All three judges scored the fight 100-90 after Nicolson completed the shutout in dominating fashion through her command of range with a sharp jab and lateral movement. Moving forward unification fights and a possible move up in weight may force Nicolson to face the type of opposition that could make for more entertaining fights in the future.

Light heavyweight action kicked off the main portion of the DAZN telecast. Jersey City native Khalil Coe (9-0-1, 7 KOs) made short work of Kwame Ritter (11-2). After an uneventful first round, Coe started to close the distance to start the second round and as a result he landed a hard straight right that hurt Ritter. A left hook dropped Ritter and he fell backwards into the ropes. When he got up, Coe was able to swarm him with hard shots and the referee called a halt to the action with just one second remaining in the second round.

Former world title challenger Christopher “Pitufu” Diaz (29-4, 19 KOs) made quick work of the game but clearly overmatched Derlyn Hernandez (12-2-1). A short-left hook hurt Hernandez and the seasoned Diaz took his time applying the follow-up pressure that forced the referee to wave off the action at the 2:36 mark of the second round. Diaz stated prior to this comeback fight that he’s looking for one more run towards a world title.

Christian Carto (23-1, 17 KO’s) looked impressive in three rounds of action against Carlos Buitrago (38-14, 22 KOs). Both fighters were happy to exchange from the opening bell. Carto took the punches he was hit with well and was able to return fire with combinations that caught and dropped Buitrago to start round three. A series of well-placed power combinations hurt Buitrago as the round came to an end, which prompted the referee to stop the bout at the end of the round.

A pair of Boots Promotions fighters kicked off the night with entertaining bouts:

It took all six rounds to decide the Ismail Muhammad (5-0, 1 KOs) Frank Brown (3-5-2) fight. Brown pressed the action early and caught the cold Muhammad in an exchange knocking him down for the first time in his career. Muhammad rose to his feet and proceeded to work the gameplan to get himself back into the fight. Muhammad scored his own knockdown in the fourth round and finished the fight strong to earn the unanimous decision victory by scores of 58-54 twice and 57-55.

Dennis Thompson (1-0) won his professional debut at bantamweight with a unanimous decision over the game Fernando Valdez (1-8).

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