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Golovkin Challenges Mayweather & Floyd Does What He Always Does

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As the weeks go by and we get further away from the overly anticipated Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao clash, it’s painfully obvious how boxing fans are fed up with tremendously hyped fights that never had a chance of being memorable or fan friendly. And everybody shares the blame in the travesty known as Mayweather-Pacquiao, both Floyd and Manny, along with the boxing media and fans. But that’s water under the bridge now and it’s time to look at what future bouts can stimulate boxing fans in the not so distant future.

Potential bouts like Sergey Kovalev vs. Adonis Stevenson, Saul Alvarez vs. Miguel Cotto, Terence Crawford versus any top fighter between 140-147, Andre Ward versus Kovalev or Gennady Golovkin among others, these are all intriguing.

However, the talk most permeating the debate is – who will the biggest star in boxing, Floyd Mayweather 48-0 (26) next fight? And the name that most often is mentioned from a competitive vantage point is WBA middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin 33-0 (31). He, like Mayweather, really doesn’t have any worthy challengers in front of him, at least who the thought of him fighting really excites boxing fans.

When you really think about it, who’s left for Mayweather to fight? He spent his entire career telling everybody he was the best in the sport, and today that’s pretty hard to refute. We get it, there’s not a single fighter campaigning at welterweight or junior middleweight who can present him a serious challenge….not Miguel Cotto, despite Freddie Roach training him, or Canelo Alvarez. But let us not forget, the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions of today are not necessarily murderer’s row. It’s not like there’s a line of title holders who are anything close to being elite fighters like Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Donald Curry circa 1983-85 or Mike McCallum. Actually, I’d favor Marlon Starling over any top welterweight today, excluding Mayweather, and at junior middleweight I wouldn’t have to be pressed to take McCallum over Mayweather.

There’s nothing left for Mayweather to prove. He has his health and his wealth. Either fight Golovkin and take a real challenge for once, or stop gouging the fans with your faux fights. Then again, I can’t blame him for doing it because it’s not his fault a couple million fans love getting ripped off at his leisure and call.

Golovkin recently appeared on TMZ sports and said that Mayweather will be his “dream fight.”

“Of course, I beat him,” Golovkin also predicted. “Hundred percent, I’m ready for anybody.”

Mayweather didn’t respond to Golovkin’s words, but his team did issue a statement to TMZ Sports.

“Everyone in boxing wants to fight Floyd, it’s the biggest payday they could possibly have.”

“He has never fought a top opponent in his whole career,” they said of Golovkin. “We’re surprised you guys would even have him on your show, to be honest.”

What an unfunny joke. Nobody has picked their spots for an entire boxing career to the enth degree like Mayweather has, but Golovkin hasn’t fought anybody? Golovkin doesn’t deserve a shot at Floyd and the money that comes with it, but Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and Victor Ortiz did?

If my memory serves me correctly, the only reason Mayweather finally agreed to fight Pacquiao was twofold: 1) Floyd waited for Manny to breakdown physically, which was apparent during their bout and …2) the public basically said they were done buying his fights unless he took on Pacquiao.

Well, that should be the mantra for Mayweather’s next fight. I mean do we really need to see Mayweather fight Keith Thurman or Amir Khan to find out if he can beat them? I don’t think so.

During the early to mid-eighties undisputed light heavyweight champ Michael Spinks cleaned out the division to the point to where there were no real challengers for him, and that was at a time when the 175 class was stacked with killers. So Spinks challenged undefeated IBF heavyweight champ Larry Holmes (48-0) who had also virtually cleaned out the division and was in need of a challenger. Three months after last defending the light heavyweight title Spinks fought Holmes for his title. Larry was 50 plus pounds bigger than any opponent Michael ever fought…..or 37 pounds bigger than Golovkin is Mayweather. There was no catch-weight clause attached to the fight because Spinks wanted to beat the heavyweight champ, not his skeleton. Almost 30 years ago this coming September as a 6-1 underdog Spinks made history as the first reigning light heavyweight champ to defeat the reigning heavyweight champ via a 15-round split decision, solidifying his place in history. Spinks made history that night and defied it by preventing Holmes from tying Rocky Marciano’s perfect record of 49-0.

Roy Jones cleaned out a more pedestrian light heavyweight division 18 years later and challenged WBA heavyweight title holder John Ruiz. Like Spinks, Jones didn’t force Ruiz to come down in weight or fight any lighter than he had for any other heavyweight title bout. No, Ruiz wasn’t Larry Holmes, but he was a legitimate title holder and 50 plus pounds bigger than any other opponent Jones ever fought. Jones out-boxed Ruiz by a pronounced margin on all three cards to join Spinks as the second reigning light heavyweight title holder to defeat a reigning heavyweight title holder.

Now, picture Michael Spinks standing next to Larry Holmes and Roy Jones standing next to John Ruiz….then picture Floyd Mayweather standing next to Gennady Golovkin. If you think Golovkin is dramatically bigger than Mayweather compared to the advantage in size Holmes and Ruiz held over Spinks and Jones, stop reading right now and make an appointment with an eye doctor.

The fact is, Golovkin like Marvin Hagler, isn’t even a big middleweight. And he’s only 11-13 pounds heavier than Mayweather. If Floyd wants to seal his legacy and shut up his critics, fight Golovkin in a non-catch-weight bout. No, Golovkin is not a certified all-time great yet, but he may be viewed as one by the time he retires. Mayweather beating Golovkin in a non-catch-weight bout would be his crowning achievement.

There’s only one fight left worth paying to see Mayweather partake in and that’s against Golovkin at 160. It would be a monumental bout. However, I’m a cynic and believe if it does happen, Golovkin and his team will be forced to sell out and come in at 154. And if you think Daniel Geale looked like a ghost at 157, Golovkin would look like a ghost on crack the day of the weigh in at 154. On fight night he’d be an empty package and I would pick Mayweather to win. And the con would continue.

If Golovkin fights Mayweather at 154 he gets beat like every other fighter does who moves down to fight in a high profile catch-weight bout. And if they fight at 160 and Mayweather wins, he can join fighters the likes of Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns as one of the greatest of the greats. Instead of trying to plead for his respect that he belongs on the same stage with them.

Team Mayweather’s response to Golovkin’s challenge was very condescending; then again what else would you expect. Instead of saying Golovkin hasn’t earned the shot, they should’ve been honest and said Floyd wants no part of a live fighter who he’s closer to in size than the way he dwarfed Juan Manuel Marquez when they fought six years ago. When Marquez challenged Floyd, and agreed to carve and starve, the fight happened.

Let’s end the BS that Golovkin at 159 is too big for an elite fighter like Mayweather at 151. Michael Spinks and Roy Jones know differently.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Billam-Smith Avenges Lone Defeat; Retains Cruiser Belt in a Messy Fight

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In a mild upset, Bournemouth’s Chris Billam-Smith, an overachiever, successfully defended his WBO cruiserweight title with an inelegant 12-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Richard Riakporhe. In the process, Billam-Smith, who advanced to 20-1 (13), avenged his lone defeat. Riakporhe won a split decision in their previous encounter five years ago in London.

This was a messy fight marred by excessive clinching. Referee Steve Gray, who earned his pay, warned both fighters during the match for a laundry list of infractions and eventually deducted a point from Riakporhe for leading with his head. The point deduction came in the final round and sealed the win for the Bournemouth fighter who prevailed on scores of 116-111 and 115-112 twice. Riakporhe declined to 17-1.

The fight was contested outdoors at the Crystal Palace soccer grounds in South London. The sky was grey and a light rain was falling when the show started, but the rain let up well before nightfall.

Billam-Smith, who is trained by Shane McGuigan, was making the second defense of the title he won with an upset of Lawrence Okolie. The other cruiserweight title-holders are Jai Opetaia (IBF), Gilberto Ramirez (WBA) and Noel Mikaelyan (aka Noel Gevor). Billam-Smith would be a decided underdog to Opetaia. Fights with Ramirez and Mikaelyan would likely be snoozefests.

Semi-Wind-up

Olympic silver medalist Ben Whittaker, a light heavyweight whose arrogant showboating has translated into a large social media following, went 10 rounds for the first time in his career and won a lopsided decision, advancing his record to 8-0 (5). Whittaker’s opponent, Ezra Arenyeka, a 28-year-old Nigerian, brought a 12-0 record that on closer inspection included only three wins over opponents with winning records.

Arenyeka plowed forward much of the fight, but kept a high guard and had trouble letting his hands go. In round seven, he lost a point for hitting Whittaker in the face with an elbow. The scores were 100-89 and 99-90 twice.

Also

In another mild upset, Jack Massey won the vacant European cruiserweight title with a 12-round decision over Isaac Chamberlain. Massey, who improved to 22-2 (12), is a stablemate of reigning IBF female welterweight champion Natasha Jonas who was part of the broadcasting crew. He went 10 rounds in a losing effort with former heavyweight title-holder Joseph Parker in January of last year before returning to his natural weight class. This was a competitive fight with several momentum swings.  Chamberlain, 16-2 heading in, lost by scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice.

Dan Azeez, who had Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt in his corner, was expected to have an easy time with Hrvoje Sep, a 38-year-old Ukrainian, but Azeez (20-1-1) had to work hard to salvage a draw with Sep (12-2-1) in an 8-round light heavyweight match.

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Notes on Saturday’s Boxing Action Topped by the Return of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis

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Notes on Saturday’s Boxing Action Topped by the Return of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis

Gervonta “Tank” Davis returns to the ring on Saturday after an absence of nearly 14 months that included a 44-day stint in a Baltimore jail. In the opposite corner is St. Louis southpaw Frank “The Ghost” Martin.

Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) is now the undisputed lightweight champion of the WBA. He had been sharing that distinction with Devin Haney who was de-frocked when he moved up in weight. Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) is also undefeated and their match is the main attraction of a four-fight pay-per-view on Amazon Prime Video and affiliates including PPV.com (list price $74.99) where viewers have the opportunity to interact with the hosts, namely Jim Lampley, Lance Pugmire, Chris Algieri, and Dan Conobbio.

One other world title fight and two contrived interim title fights support the main event. The title fight, which will serve as the PPV opener, pits WBC middleweight title-holder Carlos Adames (23-1, 19 KOs) against former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha (24-3-1, 12 KOs). Adames became a full-fledged title-holder last month when the organization stripped trouble-plagued Jermall Charlo of the belt within hours after his DWI arrest in Texas.

Tired of waiting around for Canelo, David Benavidez elected to move up in weight where he will face former WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

It was inevitable that Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) would out-grow the super middleweight division. He carried 180 ¾ pounds for his second pro fight when he was 16 years old. Gvozdyk (20-1, 16 KOs) stepped away from boxing after getting stopped by Artur Beterbiev in a unification fight in October of 2019. He was badly beaten in that fight although he was ahead on two of the scorecards through the nine completed rounds. He missed all of 2020, 2021, and 2022 before returning to the ring in February of last year, shaking off the rust in a 6-round fight, and subsequently won two bouts by knockout. The Ukrainian turned 37 in April.

In the other interim title fight, super lightweight Gary Gary Antuanne Russell (17-0, 17 KOs) meets Alberto Puello (22-0, 10 KOs) in a battle of southpaws. Puello, a 29-year-old Dominican, briefly held the WBA diadem at 140, but had it stripped from him when he tested positive for PEDs.

Gervonta Davis has proved to be one of the biggest draws in boxing. Among American-born fighters, no one is currently at his level as a ticket-seller. However, it will be surprising if his bout with Frank Martin tomorrow night in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand can match the numbers he achieved in his last outing where he was pit against the charismatic Ryan Garcia who he stopped with a body punch in the seventh round. In all four of the fights on tomorrow’s pay-per-view, the favorite is chalked in the 7/1 range. Moreover, a DAZN event in Puerto Rico that overlaps the early portion of the pay-per-view may nibble away at the receipts.

Three high-grade 10-round preliminaries will precede the pay-per-view. These three fights, “teasers” as it were, can be accessed for free regardless of Prime membership. The action in the “free” portion of the card begins at 5:30 pm ET/2:30 pm PT.

DAZN

The DAZN card is a Matchroom promotion in Manati, Puerto Rico. IBF 140-pound world champion Subriel Matias makes the second defense of his title against Brisbane, Australia’s Liam Paro. A late bloomer, Matias (20-1, 20 KOs) has knocked out all of his opponents including the only man to defeat him (Petros Ananyan). Paro (24-0, 15 KOs) looked sharp in his last fight wherein he TKOed Montana Love, but will be up against it in Puerto Rico. Matias, who is making his first start in his hometown since 2019, is already looking ahead to a match with Regis Prograis.

The Matias-Paro ring walk is expected to commence shortly before 11 pm, ET/8 pm PT.

PEACOCK

For diehard fight fans in the U.S., it will be wall-to-wall boxing for about 11 straight hours beginning at 1:30 pm ET/10:30 am PT when NBC’s subscription channel, Peacock, begins its coverage of the WBO cruiserweight title fight in South London between Chris Billam-Smith (19-1, 13 KOs) and Richard Riakporhe. (17-0, 13 KOs).

Billam-Smith, who is trained by Shane McGuigan, will be making the second defense of the title he won with an upset of Lawrence Okolie while seeking to avenge his lone defeat. These two met in a 10-rounder back in July of 2019 with Riakporhe emerging the winner by a split decision.

Billam-Smith’s last two fights have been in his hometown of Bournemouth. Tomorrow, he fights on the grounds of the Crystal Palace Football Club of which Riakporhe is a big supporter. The bookies like the Londoner’s chance to prevail again. The challenger, Riakporhe, is an 11/5 favorite.

Fights to Watch (All Times Pacific)

Peacock: Chris Billam-Smith vs. Richard Riakporhe: 2:00 p.m. (prelims beginning at 10:30 a.m.)

DAZN: Subriel Matias vs. Liam Paro: 7:45 p.m. (prelims beginning at 4:30 p.m.)

AMAZON PRIME VIDEO PPV: Gervonta Davis vs. Frank Martin plus three: 5:00 p.m. (prelims beginning at 2:30 p.m.)

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Boxing at the Paris Olympics: Looking Ahead and Looking Back

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One hundred years ago, Paris was the host city for the Summer Olympics. What goes around, comes around.

In the upcoming Paris Games, boxers will compete for medals in 13 categories. The number remains unchanged from Tokyo, but the ratio has been modified. In Tokyo, there were eight weight classes for men and five for women. The men have lost one and the women have gained one, so in 2024 it is seven and six.

Eight American boxers made it through the qualifying tournaments and will represent Uncle Sam in the City of Lights.

The U.S. boxing contingent in Paris

Men

Roscoe Hill, flyweight (51 kg), Spring TX

Jahmal Harvey, featherweight (57 kg), Oxon Hill, MD

Omari Jones, middleweight (71 kg), Orlando, FL

Joshua Edwards, super heavyweight, Houston, TX

Women

Jennifer Lozano, flyweight (50 kg), Laredo, Tx

Alyssa Mendoza, featherweight (57 kg), Caldwell, ID

Jajaira Gonzalez, lightweight (60 kg), Montclair, CA

Morelle McCane, welterweight (66 kg), Cleveland, OH

Paris, 1924

At the Paris Summer Games of 1924, boxers competed for medals in the eight standard weight classes. The competition was restricted to men. Female boxers were excluded until the 2012 Games in London where the women were sorted into three weight classes: flyweight, lightweight, and middleweight.

Twenty-seven nations sent one or more boxers to the 1924 Games. In total, there were 181 competitors. The United States and Great Britain had the largest squads. Each sent 16 men into the tournament, the maximum allowable as each nation was allowed two entrants in each of the weight classes.

The United States and Great Britain each walked away with two gold medals. The other gold medal winners represented Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and South Africa. But the U.S. team garnered the most medals, six overall including two silver and two bronze, two more than the runner-up, Great Britain.

What’s interesting is that three of the six U.S. medalists came out of the same gym, the Los Angeles Athletic Club. They were proteges of the club’s boxing instructor George Blake who would go on to become one of America’s top referees. The trio included both gold medalists, flyweight Fidel LaBarba and featherweight Jackie Fields, and silver medalist Joe Salas who had the misfortune of meeting Fields in the finals.

LaBarba and Fields were mature beyond their years. LaBarba was 18 years old and hadn’t yet completed high school when he secured a berth on the U.S. Olympic team. Fields, a high school dropout, was even younger. He was 16 years, five months, and 11 days old on the day that he won his gold medal. That remains the record for the youngest boxer of any nationality to win Olympic gold.

Fields and LaBarba both went on to win world titles at the professional level. Let’s take a look at their post-Paris careers. We will start with Fields and save the brilliant LaBarba for another day.

Jackie Fields  

Jackie Fields was born Jacob Finkelstein in the Maxwell Street ghetto of Chicago. His father, an immigrant from Russia and a butcher by trade, moved the family to Los Angeles when Jackie was 14 years old.

Jackie Fields

Jackie Fields

Fields turned pro in February of 1925. Despite his tender age, he was fast-tracked owing to his Olympic pedigree. But his manager Gig Rooney blundered when he put Jackie in against Jimmy McLarnin in only his seventh pro fight. A baby-faced assassin, born in Northern Ireland and raised in Canada, McLarnin, destined to be remembered as an all-time great, was more advanced than Jackie and blasted him out in the second round.

Fields rebounded to win his next 16 fights. His signature win during this run was a 12-round newspaper decision over Sammy Mandell, the Rockford Sheik. Mandell was the reigning world lightweight champion, but because this was officially a no-decision fight, a concession to Mandell, the title could not change hands unless Fields knocked him out.

Fields’ skein ended at New York’s Polo Grounds where he was out-pointed across 10 rounds by Louis “Kid” Kaplan, a 108-fight veteran and former world featherweight title-holder. But Fields built his way back into contention and claimed the world welterweight title in March of 1929 by winning a 10-round decision over Young Jack Thompson at the Chicago Coliseum. They fought for the title vacated by Joe Dundee who was stripped of the belt for failing to defend his title in a timely manner.

The jubilation that Fields felt in winning the title was tempered by an ugly incident in the eighth round when a race riot broke out in the balcony. One man died when he jumped or was pushed off the balcony and scores were injured; “more than thirty” according to one report. Many ringsiders, to avoid flying objects, took refuge inside the ropes but the contest continued after the disturbance was quelled and the ring was cleared.

Fields made the first defense of the title against Joe Dundee. They fought at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit before an estimated 25,000.

Fields had Dundee on the canvas twice before Dundee was disqualified in the second round for a low blow. The punch was clearly intentional. Fields, to his great distress, wasn’t wearing a protective cup. Heading in, Joe Dundee was still recognized as the champion in New York, so one could say that Jackie Fields unified the title.

After a series of non-title fights, Fields lost the belt to old rival Young Jack Thompson. At the conclusion of the 15-round contest, Young Jack was a bloody mess – he would need to go to a hospital to have his lacerations repaired –but Thompson, who also came up the ladder in California rings, was fairly deemed the winner. This would be the last collaboration between Fields and Gig Rooney. The wily Jack “Doc” Kearns, who had managed Jack Dempsey and was then involved with Mickey Walker, horned right in and became Jackie’s new manager.

Kearns maneuvered Fields into a match with Lou Brouillard who had wrested the title from Thompson four months earlier and Fields rose to the occasion, winning a unanimous 10-round decision in Chicago to become a two-time world welterweight champion. It was a furious battle, wrote the correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. “[Fields] hit Brouillard with everything but the water bucket.”

After another series of non-title fights, Fields risked his belt against Young Corbett III. They fought at the baseball park in San Francisco before an estimated 15,000 on the afternoon of Feb. 22, 1933.

Fields was damaged goods. He had suffered a detached retina in his right eye in a minor auto accident and there was no cure for it. Corbett III (Rafaele Giordano) was a southpaw which was all wrong for a boxer with blurred vision in his right eye. Jackie fought back valiantly after losing the first five rounds, but lost the decision. The referee’s card (6-3-1 for Corbett III) appeared a tad generous to the loser.

Fields retired after one more fight. A closer look at his final record (72-9-2, 31 KOs) shows that he had 19 fights with 10 men who held a world title at some point in their career, including six future Hall of Famers (Jimmy McLarnin, Louis “Kid” Kaplan, Sammy Mandell, “Gorilla” Jones, Lou Brouillard, and Young Corbett III), and was 12-6-1 in these encounters. He was stopped only once, that by the great McLarnin in Jackie’s seventh pro fight.

Jackie Fields Post-Boxing

Fields wasn’t in good shape financially when he left the sport. His various investments were shambled by the stock market crash of 1929. For a time, he lived in Pennsylvania, first in Pittsburgh and then in Philadelphia where he was a distributor for the Wurlitzer juke box company and a sales executive with a distillery.

In 1957, he purchased an interest in a gambling establishment, the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. (Note: In Nevada, prior to 1967, public corporations were prohibited from owning or operating a property that housed a casino. Anyone purchasing one or more shares, called points, had to submit to a background check which did little to stanch the influence of the mob.)

Fields eventually sold his shares, but remained with the Tropicana in a public relations capacity. During the 1970s, he served on the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He passed away in 1987 at age 79 at a nursing home in Las Vegas after being hospitalized for a heart ailment. In 2004, he was inducted posthumously into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

For all that he accomplished as a pro, Fields always insisted that his proudest moment came in Paris. “As I stood there, with the band playing the Star Spangled Banner, I cried like a baby, I was that thrilled.”

PHOTO: 2024 U.S. Olympian Roscoe Hill

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