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Juan LaPorte and the Mysterious Death of Salvador Sanchez




It was close to noon on August 12, 1982 when the radio blurted out four times in Spanish, “Salvador Sanchez is dead – I repeat – Salvador Sanchez is dead!” Each time the announcer repeated those words, my jaw sank lower and lower. Weeks later, at the corner store, at Vinny’s barbershop around the corner, and on every stoop on the block, everyone still shook their heads in disbelief. In our neighborhood, Sanchez was considered almost invincible and stood alongside Sugar Ray and Duran as the best boxers in the game. That belief was not the result of opinion but, rather, stemmed from the expert testimony of that tough featherweight who lived on the other side of Pratt Institute who we called Tony La-Por and the rest of the boxing world knew as Juan LaPorte.

Back in those days, during summer weekends when boxing was on network television, Ralphie on the first-floor would push his Magnavox to the window and turn it so that the screen faced out. Outside, in front of his window, the old timers used to set up a folding table, pull out the cards and dominoes, and pop open the Buds while the kids gathered in a semi-circle behind them, bumping shoulders and jockeying for a better view of the action. When the slugging heated up, like it did during the final rounds of the Saad Muhammad-Marvin Johnson fight, the playing cards went face-down and all eyes focused on the window. On the day Sanchez stopped Danny Lopez for the second time, the playing cards remained untouched and nods of approval filled the street. A few months after that, when LaPorte challenged Sanchez for the title, a bunch of us crammed into Ralphie’s living room and glued our eyes to the set.

I was still too young to leave the block by myself but some in the room knew LaPorte since he was an amateur winning all the newspaper tournaments. Others said he was among the toughest street kids in a rogue city where sneakers were swiped off people’s feet and nearly the entire police force once called out sick at the same time. From Fulton Street to Myrtle Avenue, between Washington and Throop Avenues, merely mentioning his name – he’s La Por’s cousin – was enough to get a fella out of a tight bind. In between rounds of the Sanchez-LaPorte fight, stories like the one LaPorte told the NY Times were shared. “First fight I had,” he told the paper, “I knocked the guy’s tooth out and he swallowed it. We’re now best of friends.”

After 15 gallantly fought rounds that ended with Sanchez telling “Juanito” that he was a future champion, the two became best of friends. Just before Sanchez made his defense against Azumah Nelson (pictured in the white trunks), he gave LaPorte, who was fighting on the undercard, a pair of boxing gloves as a gift. Less than a month after receiving the gloves, LaPorte was among the hundreds who lined the streets of Santiago Tianguistenco that rainy Saturday when Sanchez was buried.

On August 11, 1982, Sanchez had begun training for a September 15 rematch against LaPorte. At approximately 3:30AM the next day, on an unlit highway that sliced through the hills, along kilometer 14, his speeding Porsche 928 was sent crashing head on with an oncoming truck in the opposite lane. The Times write up stated that local police had determined that Sanchez was driving at “high speed” when he crashed into a “heavily loaded tractor trailer.” His death, according to the Times, “stunned and puzzled Mexican sporting circles.”The Spanish-language news informed viewers that Sanchez’s car was rear-ended by another truck, the impact sending the Porsche into the oncoming lane where it collided with another truck.

Despite the conflicting reports and lack of details, reports agreed that Sanchez was the type of fighter who never broke camp.

When training, he strictly followed a 9PM curfew and each morning, at precisely 5:30, did his roadwork throughout the dirt roads of San Jose Iturbide with his trainer following closely behind in a car. The twenty-three-year-old never left camp without informing someone, according to his trainer, Cristobal Rosas. The afternoon of August 11, the routine was broken.

Alejandro Toledo traced the final steps of the champion in his book, De Puño Y Letra. Sanchez spent the morning shadowboxing and during lunch, he received a phone call that made him restless, according to the witnesses Toledo spoke with. Sanchez grabbed his car keys and sat quietly while rattling them impatiently in his hand. He mentioned wanting to take his car to Queretaro to have his mechanic look at the horn, which he claimed was acting up. Rosas told him not to bother, that he passed by the day before and the mechanic was away. Another person at the training camp said Sanchez told him he wanted to go into town to purchase a new album. Someone else said he believed the champ had a mistress in Queretaro and had gone to see her.

Who it was that called Sanchez and what was said remains uncertain. Around 4 o’clock that afternoon, without advising anyone, Sanchez got into his car and drove to Queretaro.

Reports say he did visit the mechanic, left empty handed, and, according to some, spent the next few hours hanging out with “admirers” until 2AM. Others said he was at a bar until 1AM.

According to all sources, Sanchez was by himself when he pointed his headlights north towards San Jose Iturbide, a not-quite one-hour drive when traveling at the speed limit. Regardless of whether he left a 2AM or 1AM, Sanchez, behind the wheel of a speeding Porsche, should have been back in camp before 3 o’clock.

On September 15, 1982, LaPorte stopped Colombian Mario Miranda in New York to win the title left vacant by Sanchez’s death. He trained in the gloves Sanchez gave him. When I met him for the first time, he was a former champ looking to bounce back after a loss to Barry McGuigan.

I was classmates with LaPorte’s cousin, a Golden Glover who had once won the “Nobody Beats The Wiz Boxer of the Night” award. We were sitting on the couch in his cousin’s apartment off Taaffe Place, our BVD tank tops still damp from a mile-long run, when LaPorte walked in and tossed a snake onto his cousin’s chest. Because it was one of those thick, heavy, scaly snakes that have taken over the Everglades, his cousin calmly freaked out. “It’s just a baby,” LaPorte laughed while lifting it off his cousin’s chest. A disturbance in front of the house caused us all to run outside. An attempted chain snatching was thwarted when LaPorte, snake wrapped around his shoulders, ran out into the street and chased away the two would-be thieves.

Years later, at a gym in Brooklyn, I reminded him of that day when he looked like the Tarzan of the concrete jungle. “That sounds like something I would’ve done,” he laughed. Like Sanchez, he was a disciplined fighter. Everyday around noon, whether he had a fight scheduled or not, he’d arrive at the gym, often by himself. He worked on his jab, his footwork, all the basic things. Whenever the gym was crowded, unlike some pros, who cut in front of the line of amateurs waiting to use the bags because they had a 10-rounder coming up, LaPorte waited his turn. When he shadowboxed in the ring, he didn’t reserve the ring ahead of time nor insist that he be the only one in it. Instead, he blended in with a group of boxers of all ages, and practiced his feints, ducks, and combinations.

Many found it easy to cheer for him, witnessed by the hundreds from the neighborhood who populated the upper deck of The Garden when he beat Miranda and, again the night he went toe-to-toe with Julio Cesar Chavez in a fight that looked to us like he won and that Chavez himself said he would not have complained if LaPorte got the win. The day after the Chavez fight, the New York Daily News said it was a close fight that drew boos from the crowd, “though not vehemently.” Had that reporter been seated where we were, he would’ve noticed that the reason some didn’t boo loudly was because they were too busy shaking their heads in disbelief since, once again, the local lad had been dealt a bad hand, though not as bad as the one he was given when he challenged Panamanian Eusebio Pedroza for the WBA belt at Atlantic City back in 1982.

Pedroza was a great fighter who also carried a gym-rep of being a dirty fighter. There were unverified accusations of stimulant use that fueled his late round rallies and Lou Duva publicly accused Pedroza of using an illegal substance in the corner during Pedroza’s fight against Rocky Lockridge. Pedroza often hit below the belt, on the break, on the kidneys, and after the bell.

Against LaPorte, his corner showed the world a different trick. After being staggered in the second round, the round in which Pedroza began throwing low-blows and kidney shots, ringside commentators Tim Ryan and Angelo Dundee informed viewers that Pedroza’s corner administered smelling salts between rounds. Ammonia capsules, LaPorte would later say. The fouling worsened after that round. LaPorte fought much of the final rounds off the ropes, he said, to protect his kidneys from the illegal shots.

After the fight, Dr. Edwin Campbell of New York issued a report detailing the extent of LaPorte’s injuries. He found “contusion to the scrotum, testicles and lower back … that were clearly the result of excessive trauma to an extent that I have rarely observed in my 25 years experience.”

Over 50 flagrant fouls the New Jersey commissioners counted. Pedrozawas warned 16 times but only three points were deducted. Both the New York and New Jersey commissions reviewed the fight and reversed the decision and declared LaPorte the winner. Three other states followed suit. But the Panama-based WBA ignored the state commissions, the fouls, and the smelling salts. Pedroza remained their champ.

In the gym and on the block, LaPorte was considered the champ. Though he never hesitated to state his side, LaPorte didn’t complain too much after the Pedroza fight. If he fouled back, he felt, he could’ve been disqualified. He rightfully could have complained after the fight as loudly as PaulieMalignaggi did when Paulie got a raw deal in Texas in his first fight with Juan Diaz. He could’ve complained too in 1983 after he got into a limo with Don King and a trusted member of his own camp, who allegedly sold LaPorte out and forced him to sign a deal with King, rather than with Madison Square Garden and Paul Guez, the president of Sasson. Rumors surfaced in the Spanish media that threats were made against LaPorte and his family if LaPorte did not sign with King. Afterwards, King threatened LaPorte, Guez, Madison Square Garden, the Garden president of boxing operations John Condon, and LaPorte’s manager, Howie Albert with lawsuits.

“They compared me to Al Capone or some mafioso,” King told the UPI. “On the contrary, that’s not true. That’s a defamation of character and character assassination…I intend to file suit.”

In his next two fights, a demoralized LaPorte, fighting much like the so-called “Lost Heavyweights” of the 1980s, sleepwalked his way to consecutive losses, including one against Wilfredo Gomez. Whatever happened in that limo ride was never fully revealed but it was enough to bring tears to LaPorte’s eyes.

We all shed a tear with him that sad day in 1989 when his eight-year-old son drowned in the same Sheepshead Bay waters that the body of former bantamweight champion Joe Lynch was found in back in 1965. Though a pair of officers held LaPorte back, keeping him from jumping off the concrete pier and into the unpredictable waters, a piece of him was left in the chilled waters of that Atlantic. When news of the drowning reached the neighborhood, by word of mouth and later, on the evening news, even the mothers who never saw him box and only knew of him from those Lo Mejor de lo Nuestrocommercials on channel 41, cried and said a small prayer.

LaPorte, at his best as good as any Hall of Famer, was perpetually at the drawing board – his prime vandalized by a tainted sanctioning body and a hostile limo drive. The neighborhood’s best days had passed too. By the time the 1980s ended, nobody played stickball or cocolevio anymore, too many were smoking from glass tubes or were under the supervision of the DJJ, and LaPorte had moved. I never got around to asking LaPorte about Sanchez and the questions surrounding his death. Some twenty years later, at a Golden Gloves show in Manhattan, I shook hands with the former champ for the first time in decades and caught up on the past. Instead of asking him about Sanchez, I asked him about the snake.

“He just died,” he said. “Not too long ago.”

When LaPorte arrived home from work one frigid evening, he found the snake dead amid two rabbits and a suddenly faulty heater. Everything was working fine when he left that morning, he said, and his initial inspection didn’t reveal any clues to the cause. Then he checked the cord and it all made sense.

Did anyone check the “cord” after Sanchez died?

If Sanchez left the bar at 1AM, he would have reached kilometer 14 around 1:20AM. Even if he left an hour later, there remains a large chunk of unaccountable time during his final hours. Who was it that called him that afternoon and what did they say to make a champ who was never flustered in the ring become restless. Where did Sanchez spend those unaccountable moments? Did he fall asleep for a while on the side of the road? Did he go somewhere else? What were the trucks doing on the road, especially the one that struck him from behind?

At approximately 3:30AM, on his way back to his training camp, on a flat, straight section of the highway, Sanchez’s white Porsche was rear ended by a truck and sent crashing into an oncoming truck. The mangled hood of his Porsche was pushed back near the windshield, which lay in shattered pieces on the front seats. Both trucks involved were Dina Tortons. They were heavy duty trucks powered by either International or Cummins engines and were, unlike the Porsche with its 143-mph factory top speed and sub-seven 0 to 60 times, built for carrying heavy loads. Reports stated that after surveying the damage at the crash scene, investigators had no doubt Sanchez was speeding when his car collided. What the published reports didn’t state was an explanation for that question that’s lingered in my mind since that day the radio announcer repeatedly stated that Salvador Sanchez had died. If Sanchez’s car was rear-ended, then why was the Dina Torton that struck him speeding too?

Editor’s Note: Jose Corpas’ second book, a biography of Panama Al Brown titled “BLACK INK: A Story of Boxing, Betrayal, Homophobia, and the First Latino Champion,” is available via Amazon and other online booksellers. He is currently at work on his next boxing book, tentatively titled “THE RIVALRY: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico.”

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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).

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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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