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Keith Thurman: “If You Can Beat Me, Beat Me”



THURMAN VS. GARCIA, BEFORE AND AFTER — On March 4, Showtime Championship Boxing on CBS featured the highly-anticipated WBC-WBA welterweight championship fight between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia.

Thurman is one of the more intriguing personalities in boxing today. And that statement could be amended to extend beyond the sweet science.

Dan Birmingham, who trains Thurman, said last year, “I’ve known Keith since he was kid. I’ve been working with him since he was fifteen. And I still don’t really know him. He’s very opinionated. He has an opinion about everything. And he reminds me of a hippie from The Sixties. Outside the ring, Keith is all peace and love. He’s a giver. He plays the flute, guitar, and a little piano. He would have done well at Woodstock. But when the bell rings, he’ll rip your head off.”

Thurman’s mother was a telemarketer. His father worked, among other things, as a nursing care assistant. They divorced when Keith was young, and his father had three more children in a subsequent marriage.

“There’s no blueprint for being a perfect parent,” Thurman says. “But both of them tried. My father always talked to me like a young man, not a little boy. My mother raised me as a single parent, which was hard and I probably made it harder because I was rambunctious at times. I have my own home now. But when I started making money, I kept living at home and helped my mother pay off the mortgage. I’m grateful for everything they taught me.”

Thurman has strong self-belief and a personalized faith. “I’m more spiritual than religious,” he explains. “I believe that the Creator knew what He was creating and that there’s harmony amidst the chaos. I believe that human beings were created to love and respect each other. I was raised as a Christian, but I don’t practice a specific religion because of the structure. My connection to my Creator is personal. I’ve read a lot about the world’s religions and studied them in my way. I look for what they have in common rather than their differences. Religion can help you understand how to build character, in yourself and in others.

“It’s important to me to always be growing as a person,” Keith continues. “I was a high school dropout, but I like to learn. Part of me has always wanted to go to college.”

Thurman likes to talk. He has a preference for hip-hop and rhythm and blues, but says, “Good music is good music, whatever kind it is.” Then, in the next sentence, he acknowledges, “I have a love-hate relationship with music. Songs tend to seep into your subconsciousness, and it interferes with my meditation. Sometimes, when I’m meditating, it feels like I’m turning on the radio.”

He also has thoughts to offer on government and politics:

*         “I’m proud to be an American. I have a lot of opinions on a lot of subjects. One of the best things about being an American is the right to have opinions and speak openly about them.”

*         “I’m a boxer. I know how to take a punch. America is the strongest nation in the world. But after 9/11, America didn’t know how to take the punch. Go to war in Iraq? What was that for?”

*         “Life is hard. There’s no easy way of going about it. Sometimes the government makes life easier. Sometimes it makes life harder.”

*         “I like to break down words. Like politics. ‘Poly’ means many. Ticks are blood-sucking parasites. So it’s there, right under your nose.”

Thurman is an articulate, thoughtful, complex man. But none of that matters in a boxing ring unless a fighter can fight.

Thurman can fight. His first mentor in boxing was Ben Getty, who trained Keith from a young age. Getty died in 2009, leaving his charge in Dan Birmingham’s hands. To this day, Thurman quotes Getty on aspects of life ranging from finance to Frank Sinatra. But most of the quotes are on boxing:

*         “Ben Getty always said, ‘Smart fighters win and dumb fighters lose.’”

*         “Ben Getty always said, ‘You can’t wait on a rematch. You have to make adjustments now.’ There’s no reason that someone should be able to hit you again and again with the same punch. If he hits you more than twice with the same punch, you’re doing something wrong.”

*         “Ben Getty used to tell me, ‘It’s just around the corner, boy.’ If I could have Ben back for a day now, I’d tell him, ‘Well, I guess we’ve reached that corner.’”

“Boxing has been my whole life since I was seven years old,” Thurman says. “It’s the only thing that has stayed consistent except my mother and father. I’ve never had a job. I never delivered pizza. I mowed lawns from time to time when I was a kid to pick up some extra change, but that’s all. I don’t know how to do an oil change. I don’t know calculus. But I know boxing.”

“Boxing brings happiness and excitement to me,” Keith continues. “I had difficulty with team sports. I didn’t like relying on others for victory. Not everybody can be a boxer. It’s a whole other kind of sport. You need a special mentality and some very special qualities to be a boxer. But I love the sport. It’s more than a source of income for me. I love being tested. If you can beat me, beat me.”

Thurman sees himself as a boxer first and a puncher second, explaining, “Every training camp, I focus on a new technique. I want to be able to adapt to anything that comes my way.” But he’s quick to add, “Not one opponent ever got in the ring with me and said afterward, ‘Keith Thurman can’t hit; his power is overrated.’ People used to say about me, ‘Man, this kid can punch. Wait till he gets his man strength. He’ll be at his strongest by age twenty-eight.’”

Thurman smiles: “Well, I’m twenty-eight now.”

Thurman-Garcia shaped up as an attractive fight. Each man turned pro in November 2007 and is in his prime.

Thurman brought a 27-0 (22 KOs) record into the bout and was the reigning WBA 147-pound champion. His signature win was a 115-113, 115-113, 115-113 decision victory over Shawn Porter at Barclays Center last year.

Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) is one year older than Thurman. He rose to prominence with a fourth-round upset knockout of Amir Khan in 2012, won several 140-pound belts, and claimed the vacant WBC 147-pound crown last year with a unanimous decision win over Robert Guerrero.

Thurman was a 2-to-1 betting favorite.

Ever since Luis Collazo doubled him over with a body shot (Keith stayed on his feet), the naysayers have said that Thurman doesn’t like it when an opponent goes hard to the body. Eighty years ago, the naysayers said the same thing about Joe Louis, who responded, “Who do?”

“I know how to handle being hurt,” Thurman said in the build-up to Thurman-Garcia. “Danny has power. If he lands right, he can hurt me. But he’s not going to match me in power. I’m bigger; I’m stronger. Danny’s resume isn’t a welterweight resume. It’s knockdown power versus knockout power. He’s dangerous, but I’m more dangerous. Round by round, minute by minute, second by second, the truth will be revealed.”

But Garcia had faced similar odds in overcoming Lucas Matthysse and more daunting ones against Amir Khan.

“At the end of the day,” Danny said at the final pre-fight press conference, “all ‘underdog’ means is that there’s a bunch of people who don’t know what I can do.” To which Angel Garcia (Danny’s father and trainer) added, “Thurman beat guys he was supposed to beat. Danny beat guys when people didn’t think he’d win.”

That brings the narrative to Angel Garcia.

Angel gives the impression of being tightly coiled, physically and mentally. Even on good days, there’s a lot of anger bubbling just beneath the surface. He talks with his hands and tends to get in people’s space when he talks to them, often jabbing them with a finger to make his point. When Danny was young, Angel spent several years in prison for drug-related offenses.

At a January 18 press conference to announce Thurman vs. Garcia, Angel hurled racial epithets at Thurman (who’s African-American) and ranted about “mother****ing immigrants [who] come from another country.” Thereafter, there was talk that the New York State Athletic Commission might deny Angel a license to work his son’s corner on fight night.

Thurman wanted Angel in Danny’s corner. At the time of the tirade, Keith told reporters, “Danny knows how to deal with his father. He was raised by his father. He knows what to expect from his father. At the end of the day, crazy Angel doesn’t get to do anything but run his mouth. He can’t punch for Danny. He can’t take the punches for Danny. What they do in the ring is what matters. I care about the fighter, not the fighter’s father.”

Also, Thurman reasoned that, if Angel were denied a licence, Team Garcia would try to tarnish a Thurman victory by claiming that Danny was disadvantaged by his father’s absence.

It was all moot. The New York State Athletic Commission as presently constituted doesn’t upset applecarts when the applecart is owned and operated by powerful economic interests (e.g. Barclays Center and CBS).

On February 22, Angel met with NYSAC chairperson Ndidi Massay, acting executive director Tony Giardina, and director of boxing Eric Bentley to discuss his transgressions. On March 2, shortly after the final pre-fight press conference ended, the commission issued a terse statement that read, “The New York State Athletic Commission has approved Angel Garcia’s license application to participate in Saturday’s bout.”

Angel wasn’t on the dais at the final pre-fight press conference. But he did attend the event and spoke extensively with the media afterward. In these conversations, he was careful to not repeat any of the thoughts that had landed him in hot water. He was also careful not to say anything that could be remotely construed as an apology.

“I had a little meeting with them,” Angel said of his sitdown with commission personnel. “But it was nothing. I didn’t do nothing [wrong], but I did my part. They told me to do something, and I did it. I completed my half. I did a small video. We do a lot for kids anyway. We donate haircuts and we do things for the kids in the neighborhood [in Philadelphia]. So it ain’t nothing new for us to do something like that. So I donated to the Joe Frazier Foundation, money, and then that was it. And then I had to say, if I offended any immigrant or whatever, or refugees. I made a video like that.”

The New York State Athletic Commission declined a request for information regarding whether the video referenced by Angel Garcia is available for viewing and how much money Garcia donated to the foundation. A Google search raised questions as to whether such a foundation currently exists.

Then it was fight night.

Barclays Center has shown a commitment to building an ongoing boxing program, and the announced crowd of 16,553 constituted an arena record for the sweet science. Gerry Cooney, who was in attendance, captured the anticipation as the moment of reckoning arrived: “Right now, if you’re a fighter, you want the bell to ring. Just ring the bell, baby, and let’s fight.”

Thurman-Garcia was a great match-up, which is all fans can ask of a promotion. It wasn’t a great fight.

Round one was the most exciting of the bout Thurman came out hard, stunned Garcia with a left hook up top, and followed up nicely. But from round two on, the excitement waned. Thurman was wary of Garcia’s counterpunching (“I was impressed with the way he read my punches,” Keith said after the fight) and spent long periods of time circling away from his opponent. Meanwhile, Garcia was cautious about engaging and more invested in countering than getting off first. Each man took the other’s punches well when they landed. There was drama because of the stakes involved. But the expected fireworks were few and far between. The crowd booed sporadically from the midway point on.

The New York State Athletic Commission had agreed to accommodate CBS by allowing 70-second rest periods between rounds instead of the standard 60-seconds. That allowed CBS to program its commercials the way it wanted to. There’s no way of knowing whether that altered the flow of the bout.

It was a hard fight to score. Each judge gave Thurman the first, fifth, and eighth rounds, while leaning toward Garcia in rounds six and ten. The other rounds were up for grabs. In the end, two judges – John McKaie (116-112) and Joseph Pasquale (115-113) – favored Thurman, while Kevin Morgan (115-113) sided with Garcia.

Earlier in the week, Angel Garcia had spoken with the media about Danny and said, “He’s not my son now. He’s my fighter.”

At the post-fight press conference, Danny was asked, “How did your dad like the decision?”

“My dad is always upset,” Danny answered.

Then Angel, who was a late arrival at the press conference, had his say: “You can’t win a fight running, bro. You gotta make contact. You can’t just run. You can’t be a world champion like that.”

At that point, Keith Thurman and Dan Birmingham entered the room and the Garcias walked out. Speaking to the fans’ disappointment over the way the fight unfolded, Thurman put the night in context: “Sometimes when you come to a boxing match, you get what you want. You see a fight. And sometimes you get boxing. I finessed my way to victory tonight.”

As for the future . . . Within the Premier Boxing Champions universe, the most attractive options for Thurman’s next fight are match-ups against the winner of the upcoming bout between Kell Brook and Errol Spence, rematches against Garcia or Shawn Porter, and an outing against Adrien Broner. Alternatively, Thurman, who’s a big welterweight, could test the waters at 154 pounds.

Thurman has his eye on history. “Either you’re the best or you aren’t,” he says. “I want to prove that I’m the best.”

However, he’s also a practical man, who notes, “Boxers are entrepreneurs and the life of an athlete is short. You have to ride the wave while it lasts. The goal is to find a way to produce income that will give me a good cash flow for life after I retire from boxing.”

Then he adds, “Having money is a job in itself. Growing up, I didn’t have much. I’d hear the saying, ‘More money, more problems.’ And I’d ask, ‘How is that so? It seems to me, more money, more solutions.’ But I understand that now.”

And a final thought . . .

“When you’re a kid,” Thurman observes, “time seems to last forever. And now, time seems so short. But I’m happy to be in this moment. I’m living the life I want to live.”


Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at His most recent book – A Hard World: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.


The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges



In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel


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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 8: Competing Cards in N.Y. and L.A.



Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”


Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?




Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

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