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Pacquiao Says One More, Let’s Hope So

Frank Lotierzo

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Currently, he is on the mend from having rotator cuff surgery. The last time we saw Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao 57-6-2 (38) he was sharing a ring with Floyd Mayweather in the richest fight in boxing history.

Last week Pacquiao announced he would likely retire next year after one last fight to focus on a career in politics, hopefully as a senator.

“I think I’m ready (to retire). I’ve been in boxing for more than 20 years,” Pacquiao, 36, said in an interview on local ABS-CBN television network.

A congressman since 2010, he’s looking to bid for a Senate seat in the national elections in May of next year.

Manny Pacquiao turned pro when he was 16 years old and will turn 37 in two months. It can be said with impunity that he’s had a stellar career and is no doubt a first ballot hall of famer the moment the bell rings ending the last round of his final career bout.

Yes, he lost the biggest and highest profile bout of his career to Mayweather, but so did Muhammad Ali to “Smokin” Joe Frazier, and it didn’t hurt Ali’s legacy one iota. The difference there being Ali got two more shots at Joe and beat him both times. Manny won’t get two more shots at Floyd, however I think it’s possible he may get one more. Although in fairness, it’s probably better that Manny never fights Mayweather in a rematch because he’ll lose again. It may be a little closer, but the reality is, Floyd owns the style match-up. He’s too big and he also has retained his physical skill set better. In other words, Floyd has more left in the tank than Manny does physically in spite of the fact that he’s nearly two years older.

Because of their six year rivalry, Pacquiao and Mayweather seemed to be joined at the hip, but they’re really not. Remember, Mayweather needed to meet and beat Pacquiao to solidify his legacy much more than the reverse. Regardless of what Mayweather’s posse and fanboys may try and push, Floyd is still thought of as a guy who gamed the system and chose most of his high profile opponents when the timing best suited him. That cannot be said about Pacquiao. Floyd’s legacy is beating a fighter who won his first title as a flyweight, thus fighting him as a welterweight.

Pacquiao’s legacy was carved out in beating great HOF’ers the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera 2 out of 2, Erik Morales 2 out of 3 and Juan Manuel Marquez 2 out of 3 after fighting him to a draw the first time they met. Those three warriors were his career rivals between 126 and 130, with the exception of the final two bouts against Marquez that were contested at welterweight. Manny’s legacy is also winning a world title in eight different weight divisions. No other fighter has done that.

Of course some of those titles were manufactured and catch weight bouts, but he still beat some very good welterweights (Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios) during the last five years of his career after making his debut as a flyweight. Prior to fighting as a welterweight, Pacquiao defeated David Diaz, undefeated Ricky Hatton, in addition to beating past their prime versions of Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley at 147. On the down side he did lose a disputed decision to Timothy Bradley and was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in their final fight, along with being stopped twice before fighting at 112 and 113.

Manny’s had a tremendous run. Actually, his resume is more impressive than Mayweather’s and so are his accomplishments. And if you take four of his five marquee opponents who fought Mayweather, Marquez, Hatton, De La Hoya, Cotto and Mosley, Pacquiao was much more impressive beating them. No, he’s not undefeated, but how many are who have compiled a resume as deep as his?

Manny carried most of his power with him up to junior welterweight and it didn’t level off until he got to welterweight. He was scary good on the nights that he stopped Hatton and Cotto. But that was a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Pacquiao has been on the decline since 2012. Starting then he lost a lot of his explosiveness and became very easy to hit. The work-rate also decreased and the non-stop all-out attack has diminished, as was evidenced against Chris Algieri and Mayweather in his last two bouts. Now he’s in the midst of recuperating from a serious shoulder operation. Is it even plausible to think that he can be much better than he was against Mayweather? I don’t think so. And let us not forget the devastating one-punch knockout he suffered against Marquez when they last fought. In reality Pacquiao is teetering on being damaged goods, and nobody understood that more than Mayweather did……that’s why they fought in 2015 instead of 2010.

Manny said he wants one more fight, perhaps against Amir Khan, and then he’s done. I doubt he even realizes at this time he’s no better than 50/50 against today’s elite welterweights. I’m hopeful that he picks the right opponent in his next bout and then hangs ’em up for good because there’s nothing left for him to prove. He’s done it all, and did so with class, style and excitement. No one wants to see him get beat up or punched around the ring to close out a once in a generation career. Certainly not when he can retire with his health, wealth and respect.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Berchelt TKOs Valenzuela in Mexico City

David A. Avila

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Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt hammered his way to a decisive knockout victory over fellow Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela in a non-title light fight on Saturday.

After nearly nine months off, WBC super featherweight titlist Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) unraveled a withering body attack including numerous low blows but Valenzuela remained upright in front of a sparse TV studio audience until he could take it no longer.

Berchelt used a seven-punch combination to knock the senses out of the very tough Valenzuela who hails from Sinaloa. The referee saw enough and stopped the fight with Valenzuela leaning against the ropes with a dazed look.

The champion from Cancun used a triple left hook in the first round to floor Valenzuela and it looked like the fight would not last more than two rounds. But Valenzuela, a sturdy veteran, bored into Berchelt to keep him off balance and was able to stop the momentum.

It did not last.

A vicious attack to the body sapped the energy from Valenzuela who has fought many elite fighters in the past, but none like Berchelt. He was able to batter the veteran round after round.

Valenzuela sought to reverse the momentum with some combinations of his own. Berchelt opened up with some combinations from the outside and cracked his foe with some skull-numbing blows that clearly affected Valenzuela’s senses. The referee wisely stopped the fight at 1:03 of the sixth round to give the win to Berchelt by knockout.

The victory opens the door to a potential clash with featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez of Nogales, Mexico who has a fight of his own planned next month. Both champions are promoted by Top Rank.

Other Bouts       

Omar Aguilar (18-0, 17 KOs) bushwacked veteran Dante Jardon (32-7, 23 KOs) within a minute of the first round to win by technical knockout. A barrage of blows by Ensenada’s Aguilar opened up the fight and a four-punch combination forced the referee to stop the super lightweight fight with Mexico City’s Jardon against the ropes.

A battle between super bantamweights saw the taller Alan Picasso (14-1) out-hustle Florentino Perez (14-6-2) in an eight round clash between Mexican fighters. Mexico City’s Picasso fought effectively inside against the shorter Perez of Monterrey and was able to maintain a consistent pace. Neither fighter approved the use of a jab but Picasso was more effective inside with body shots and uppercuts and dominated the last half of the fight.  The six judges scored in favor of Picasso.

The WBC instituted the extra judges as a means of tabulating score cards efficiently. Three judges scored from the television studios and another three judges scored from the USA. It was the second time WBC judges officiated remotely and all six scorecards were official.

Photo credit: Zanfer Promotions

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Big Baby Miller, Roberto Duran and More

Arne K. Lang

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Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller just can’t keep his hands out of the cookie jar. It was announced today (Saturday, June 27) that the jumbo-sized heavyweight from Brooklyn tested positive for a banned substance, forcing him out of a July 9 fight at the MGM Grand “Bubble” against Jerry Forrest. The story was broken by Mike Coppinger of The Athletic who breaks more hard news stories than any other boxing writer.

Miller, needless to say is a repeat offender. He failed three different PED tests in a span of three days for three different banned substances leading into his planned June 2019 match at Madison Square Garden with WBA/IBF/WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. That cost him the fight and a reported $5 million-plus payday. Andy Ruiz filled the void and scored an historic upset.

When the first test came back positive, Miller wailed that he was the victim of a faulty test. “My team and I stand for integrity, decency and honesty and will fight this with everything we have,” he said in a prepared statement. He later changed his tune. “I messed up,” he said.

In a story that appeared on these pages, Thomas Hauser noted that Big Baby had a history of PED use dating to 2014. In that year, he was slapped with a nine-month suspension by the California Athletic Commission following a kickboxing event in Los Angeles.

Counting this latest revelation, it’s five strikes for Big Baby. He’s taking quite a roasting right now on social media. Some of the harshest criticism is coming from his fellow boxers.

Assuming that Top Rank can’t find a replacement for Miller, this is another tough break for Jerry Forrest, a 32-year-old southpaw from Virginia with a 26-3 (20) record. Forrest was scheduled to fight hot prospect Filip Hrgovic on April 17 on a card at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a show swept away by the coronavirus outbreak. Forrest has been matched very soft throughout his career, but he acquitted himself well in his lone previous TV appearance, losing a split decision to undefeated Jermaine Franklin on “Showtime: The New Generation.” The decision was controversial.

There’s talk now that Carlos Takam is angling to replace Big Baby. The French-Cameroonian, a former world title challenger who turns 40 in December, was billed out of Henderson, Nevada, in his last ring appearance that saw him winning a unanimous decision over fellow greybeard Fabio Maldonado in Huntington, NY.

—-

When it comes to Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong, will”), there’s no sport quite like boxing. Just ask Bob Arum. The most mouth-watering matchup in his ESPN “summer series” fell out this week when Eleider Alvarez suffered a shoulder injury in training, forcing a postponement of his July 16 date with Joe Smith Jr. The match between Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) and Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) would have been a 12-rounder with the winner guaranteed a shot at the vacant WBO light heavyweight title, a diadem that Alvarez previously owned.

Joe Smith Jr, a Long Island construction worker once dismissed as nothing more than a club fighter, won legions of new fans in his last start, a one-sided (to everyone except one myopic judge) win over Jesse Hart in Atlantic City.

Cancelled matches have become a recurrent theme in ESPN’s semi-weekly boxing series. The very first card in the series lost what shaped up as its most competitive fight when Mikaela Mayer tested positive for COVID-19, scuttling her bout with Helen Joseph. In subsequent weeks, the manager of Mikkel Les Pierre tested positive for COVID-19 as did WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring. Those bad test results forced the postponement of two main events. Then earlier this week, hot lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno was lopped off Tuesday’s card after feeling sick after coming in overweight at the previous day’s weigh-in.

The undercards of the Tuesday/Thursday ESPN fights have left something to be desired, but that’s understandable. As Bob Arum noted in a conversation with veteran boxing scribe Keith Idec, Top Rank’s matchmakers Bruce Trampler and Brad “Abdul” Goodman have had a hard time fleshing out the cards because with so many gyms closed there’s a shortage of boxers who are in shape to fight on short notice. Then there are the COVID-19 travel restrictions and (something Arum did not acknowledge) budgetary restrictions more severe than an ordinary Top Rank card. Most of the undercard fighters have come from neighboring states such as Utah, saving Top Rank the cost of air fare. Fighters from faraway places, with some exceptions, were already training in Las Vegas.

Kudos to the entire Top Rank staff for keeping boxing alive during these challenging times.

It’s old news now, but Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Duran, 69, tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized in Panama City with a viral infection. There’s been no update on his condition but his son Robin Duran wrote on Instagram that his father is not having any symptoms beyond those associated with a common cold. We will update you when new details become available.

Duran’s hospitalization came just a few days after the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard in what would say was Duran’s finest hour. They met on June 20, 1980 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Duran won a unanimous decision. Converting the “10-point must” system into rounds, Duran prevailed by scores of 3-2-10, 6-5-4, and 6-4-5. As Yogi would have said, you could look it up.

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Fast Results from the Bubble: Jason Moloney TKOs Baez

Arne K. Lang

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Top Rank was back inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” tonight for chapter six of their semi-weekly ESPN summer series. Jason Moloney, one-half of Australia’s Moloney twins, accomplished what his brother Andrew Moloney was unable to accomplish in this ring on Tuesday night, adding a “W” to his ledger and looking good doing it. It came at the expense of Mexicali’s Leonardo Baez.

It was Jason Moloney’s second start on U.S. soil after coming up just a tad short in a bid for the vacant IBF world bantamweight title at Orlando in October of 2018. Against Baez, he fought a smart tactical fight, blunting the Mexican’s superior reach by fighting him at close quarters. Baez fought from the third round on with a cut over his right eye and then suffered a cut over his left eye in the seventh round. By then the fight was becoming increasingly one-sided and Baez’s corner did not let him come out for round eight.

Jason Moloney improved to 21-1 with his 18th knockout. Leonardo Baez, who took the fight on short notice after Maloney’s original opponent Oscar Negrete was forced to withdraw with a detached retina, slumped to 18-3.

Co-Feature

In the 10-round co-feature, Abraham Nova advanced to 19-0 with a unanimous decision over Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow but won no new fans with a lackadaisical performance. Nova, born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic and raised in Albany, NY, showed little but his jab through the first seven rounds until hurting Sparrow with a big right hand in the eighth. The judges had it 96-94, 97-93, and 99-91.

Sparrow (10-2), whose lone previous loss was by disqualification, was making his first start in 15 months. He was slated to fight Ryan Garcia in Los Angeles last Sept. 14 but never made it to the weigh-in after being arrested by U.S. marshals on a charge of threatening a woman with a gun after she threw his clothes out the window…

Other Bouts

In an 8-round featherweight contest, Puerto Rican southpaw Orlando Gonzalez advanced to 15-0 with a unanimous decision over Ecuador’s Luis Porozo (15-3). The scores were 76-74 and 77-73 twice.

Gonzalez wasn’t particularly impressive although he did score two knockdowns. He decked Porozo near the end of round two with a left hook following a straight left and decked him again near the end of round seven with a left uppercut to the body.

In a rather ho-hum fight, welterweight Vlad Panin improved to 8-1 with 6-round majority decision over San Antonio’s 36-year-old Benjamin Whitaker (13-4). Panin, a Belarusian who grew up in Las Vegas and earned a BA in English from UCLA, has a good back story but seemingly a limited upside in the fight game.

In an entertaining 6-round welterweight clash, Filipino campaigner Reymond Yanon improved to 11-5-1 with a split decision (59-55, 58-56, 56-58) over Clay Burns. A 33-year-old ex-Marine from Fort Worth, Burns declined to 9-8-2.

The opener, a heavyweight bout slated for six rounds, matched two Phoenix-based fighters in a rematch. Kingsley Ibeh, a former standout defensive lineman for the Washburn College Ichabods, avenged his lone defeat and improved to 4-1 with a fourth-round stoppage of Waldo Cortes (5-3). Ibeh, who at 286 had a 39-pound weight advantage, softened Cortes up with a series of uppercuts and Cortes was on his way down when he was tagged with a glancing left hand. He got to his feet, but referee Vic Drakulich waived it off. The official time was 1:41.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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