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Remembering Diego “Chico” Corrales, Gone 10 Years This Month

David A. Avila



Outside of the boxing ring Diego “Chico” Corrales was a mixture of wide-eyed kid and aw shucks mentality. Inside the ropes he was a locked-in human surface-to-surface missile armed with a nuclear warhead.

Ten years have passed since the boxing world and sports lost the Las Vegas prizefighter to a horrific motorcycle accident. Despite his early passing, many will never forget him.

My first glimpse of the stick figure slugger from Sacramento was on the undercard of Oscar “The Golden Boy” De La Hoya meeting Julio Cesar Chavez at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. It was May 7, 1996 and it was blazing hot. Corrales won that fight and would go on to win many more before losing.

Next I saw him on a January 1997 fight card at the Inglewood Forum. Jorge “Maromero” Paez and Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez fought separate co-main events back in 1997. At the time I had been laid off by the L.A. Times and was working for Uppercut Magazine. Corrales blasted out some kid named Sal Montes in the first round.

After the fight card, the magazine’s editorial staff met at our headquarters in East L.A. All agreed that Corrales was going places. Each writer and editor believed the tall, lanky Corrales packed a wallop and at 130 pounds looked unbeatable.

The magazine used to have a section called Too Dangerous where we wrote about young unknown boxers that others stayed far away from. Corrales was number one on the list. Despite his scrawny and thin body frame, when he connected others could not continue.

A few months after the Inglewood fight, he fought on a Las Vegas card on April 1997. Facing “Chico” was a slick-fighting southpaw Steve Quinonez Jr. out of Palm Springs. Both were prospects with Top Rank and it was pretty much the moment of truth for both fighters. That night it was all Corrales and by the fourth round it was all over when Quinonez could not continue.

“He just hit too hard,” said Quinonez.

A year passed before I saw Corrales back in the ring when he fought at the Olympic Auditorium. Once again he cracked somebody in the first round and it was over. One month later, at the same historic venue, Corrales was bumped up to the main event. This time his opponent lasted nearly two rounds, but barely.

Another year passed when Corrales met Angel Aldama at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. The main event saw Antonio Margarito win a close split decision against San Diego’s Danny Perez. That same night, Corrales battered Aldama until he could not continue at the end of the fourth round.

IBF world title

Oxnard’s Robert Garcia had won the super featherweight world title a year earlier in 1998 and defended it twice. Now the two 130-pounders were meeting at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Both had come up simultaneously through Top Rank and now, finally, here they were meeting in the prize ring. On one side was a smallish, aggressive over-achiever in Garcia. On the other side stood the skinny but tall Corrales who had power and definitely knew how to use it.

It wasn’t the main event that night. Mike Tyson was fighting Orlin Norris and the fight ended ridiculously quick. Later it was changed from a knockout to a no decision. Some young guy in the front row kept shouting “I spent $2,000 for a one round knockout.” He repeated this several times. I guess he wanted people to know he spent a lot of money and was some kind of player. I got tired of hearing him and told him “You must not know anything about Mike Tyson. Most of his fights end in one round.”

The fight between Garcia and Corrales was brutal and mesmerizing. Despite the firepower packed by Corrales, the titleholder Garcia would not go down and refused to quit. Both exchanged some horrific blows on each other. But as the rounds mounted, it was clear that the taller Corrales was maintaining his strength while Garcia’s blows were ebbing in power.

“That was my favorite fight,” Corrales told me. “It was great. We both didn’t want to quit.”

Finally, in the seventh round the fight was stopped and Corrales was the winner. After the fight was called, Corrales stayed around the arena talking to reporters and fans. I made introductions to the other members of the magazine. The publisher asked him if there was anything he wanted.

“I sure could use a pop,” said Corrales.

The publisher gave a surprised look and asked “A what?”

“A pop. A soda pop,” Corrales replied.

The publisher and I laughed.


Corrales defended the IBF title four times in impressive fashion. His fourth defense was a three round demolition of Chicago’s Angel Manfredy. Before the fight, Manfredy prepared in Big Bear. Everyone in the camp talked about how aside from Corrales’ power there was not much to him. But when they met in the ring it was like a man against a boy as Corrales battered Manfredy until it was stopped in the third round.

Another super featherweight named Floyd Mayweather had emerged and captured the WBC version with a dominating victory over Genaro Hernandez. Despite the knockout win, many saw Corrales as the favorite when the fight between him and Mayweather was announced in late December 2000.

Mayweather had beaten some pretty talented guys after winning the world title including Hernandez who only lost two fights in his entire career, vs. Oscar De La Hoya and Mayweather. Others Mayweather beat were Carlos Gerena, Goyo Vargas and Emanuel Augustus. All very talented.

They held a press conference in downtown Los Angeles at the Hilton.

“Floyd’s a very good fighter,” said Corrales during the press conference. He never once promised a knockout victory but was convinced he would win. “I’m going to pressure him.”

Most of the media was convinced that Mayweather was over his head against the taller and lethal punching Corrales. But until the two super featherweights met on Jan. 20, 2001, both were undefeated and confident as a weatherman predicting hot weather in July.

Mayweather was far too quick, far too clever and far too elusive for Corrales who was floored many times throughout the 10 rounds that it lasted. Up and down went Corrales like a bowling pin. But never did he seem hurt or dazed. When his corner stopped the fight at 2:19 of the 10th, the rangy fighter yelled at his father and team. Of course Corrales always felt he could win a fight. Years later he would prove he is never out until he is out.

After the loss Corrales spent 13 months in prison for domestic abuse. They were dark days for Corrales who had a chip on his shoulder when he was finally released. But though he seemed more serious in spirit, he still was quick to smile.

In 2003, when he finally returned, he quickly accepted four fights in rapid succession at super featherweight. All four fights ended in a knockout win until he met Joel Casamayor. But since returning to the boxing ring, the weight loss just seemed to drain Corrales of energy. He moved up to the 135-pound lightweight division.


Since returning to the boxing ring Corrales seemed to be oblivious to his popularity among boxing fans. When he moved up to lightweight his first opponent was WBO lightweight champion Acelino “Popo” Freitas, a legend in his native Brazil.

Like Corrales, many fans loved Freitas and his amazing power. When he defeated Cuba’s Casamayor in a battle of undefeated in January 2002, he suddenly became a superstar in his country.

Now Popo was meeting Chico in a battle of supercharged lightweights at Foxwoods in Connecticut. Slowly but surely Corrales began imposing his will and power on the shorter Freitas who could not keep the always charging Corrales away. The fight ended in the 10th round.

Corrales was the new WBO lightweight champion and he did not seem to understand the significance.

The next week a fight card at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas was taking place. As I walked through the long corridor Corrales was walking toward me alone and seemingly lost.

“Hey Diego how you doing,” I shouted to him. “That was a big win you had against Freitas. Your life is going to change.”

Corrales looked at me in surprise.

“It is?” he said.

Just then another reporter walked toward us and I asked the reporter German Villasenor to tell Corrales the significance of his win.

“That’s a big time win,” Villasenor told him.

“I’m hungry,” replied Corrales.

We all nodded and headed to a buffet at the Mandalay Bay. We grabbed a tray and began filling it with various foods. Corrales grabbed a tray and filled in with at least a dozen pastries.

Everyone who knows me knows I love pastries and anything sweet. But Corrales loved sweets even more than me. He munched those pastries quicker than I could finish my scrambled eggs. He saw my pastry and asked if he could have mine. I nodded and he ate that quickly too.

We talked about his win and about the difference and weight. Corrales seemed amazed that his win was a big thing. He also seemed amazed that anyone cared. While we were eating people began walking over to our table to ask for Diego’s autograph right on queue.

After finishing our meal we walked outside into the Mandalay Bay corridor. In seconds there were dozens of people gathering around Corrales. He had a big smile and seemed truly surprised by the adulation. I never forgot it. It was August 2004.


The reigning WBC lightweight champion was Mexico’s Jose Luis Castillo, a square jawed fighter from Sonora who nearly toppled Mayweather in their first meeting. He had defeated a number of lightweight contenders in consecutive fights such as Juan Lazcano, Joel Casamayor and Julio Diaz in world title fights. It didn’t look like anyone could dethrone the square jawed Castillo.

When it was announced in spring 2005 that “Chico” Corrales would be the next to try to dethrone the Mexican lightweight, it was Castillo who was the betting favorite. The press conference to announce the fight took place at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It was an outdoor press conference near the Mexican eatery by the pool. Dozens of reporters lingered about the patio interviewing the two prizefighters known for action fights.

The title fight was held at the Mandalay Bay and though both fighters were popular, not that many fans showed up for the fight held on May 7, 2005. About 5,000 fans filled the arena that could hold 12,000. It was a surprise to me and others that the fight did not draw better. The media section was not as crowded as usual but it was well represented because of both Corrales and Castillo’s reputations.

One thing about Corrales was that he was a big favorite of other top fighters. They all loved his warrior spirit and quick-to-smile personality. Shane Mosley, James Toney and Winky Wright were all good friends of Corrales and could often be seen hanging together around Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I ran into them one time at a club show in Las Vegas. They were all there just to hang out. There was no one in particular they wanted to see fight, but they all loved boxing so there they were.

People loved Corrales upon meeting him. My wife and her family got a chance to meet him accidentally in Las Vegas and the next time we ran into Corrales it was like a family reunion. He always seemed to make time for fans and friends.

So when Corrales entered the ring to face the mighty Castillo you could hear the cheers erupt from the small crowd and guys like James Toney walking toward the ring shouting encouragement.

The fight itself was mesmerizing. I’ll never forget the constant barrage of blows both fighters exchanged. It was one of those fights where even the calloused boxing writers looked at each other and shook their head.

It was both brutal and beautiful to watch two skilled power punchers try to out-do each other in both blows and willpower.

Every round seemed to be better than the previous. The slender and taller Corrales would absorb tremendous blows from the stockier and more muscular Castillo then reply with his own barrage when it seemed he should be getting weaker. Fans were on their feet.

In the 10th, it looked like the end for Corrales. He was caught with some vicious left hooks and went down. He spit out his mouthpiece which gained him time but he got up. He went back to exchanging with Castillo and got caught again. It really didn’t look good for Corrales. I remember looking around and seeing Winky Wright and James Toney shouting encouragement while Joe Goossen washed out the mouthpiece. After the second knockdown the referee was wise and took away a point. But the delay tactic and the point deduction gave Corrales enough time to muster strength and when the fight resumed Corrales exchanged still again. Castillo looked confident that the end was near when a Corrales right suddenly connected solidly and rocked Castillo. The taller Corrales unleashed a barrage and the Mexican fighter’s eyes closed for a moment. Referee Tony Weeks jumped in and stopped the fight.

People literally jumped up and down and shouted. Toney and Wright ran around the arena shouting with their arms raised. Corrales calmly walked back to his corner with the look of a sleepwalker who suddenly realized where he was. Even the seen-it-all boxing reporters looked at each other with jaws dropped. I remember looking directly at Rich Marotta who looked at me and mouthed the word “wow.”

It was one of those wow moments.

After that fight Corrales remained the same. His victory that night was ammunition for sports teams and other fighters to realize “it’s not over till it’s over.”

But two years later, on the exact same day May 7, it was over for Corrales who passed away during a motorcycle accident in Las Vegas.

I remember getting a phone call from a female fighter Vaia Zaganas who said with sadness that Diego Corrales had passed away. She lived in the same area that the accident happened.

I called a promoter for verification and they said they would call back. Instead they fed the information to the LA Times.

It really didn’t matter to me or other reporters who actually knew Corrales. It was like losing a baby brother. But the memories he provided both in and out of the ring are burned in my mind. Chico Corrales was one of a kind.

Painting by Richard T. Stone

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

missile armed


The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Arne K. Lang



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.

David A. Avila



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?

Kelsey McCarson




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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