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What Was Your Favorite Round of Boxing? 40 Notables Share Their Picks

Ted Sares

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PART ONE (A-K) OF A TWO-PART SERIES — This is round four, so to speak, of our survey. We previously asked a set of respondents to name their favorite boxing book, favorite fighter, and favorite fights.

The respondents are listed in alphabetical order, but as the architect of the survey, I have the privilege of weighing in first. My favorite round of boxing was the 10th and last round of the fight between Earnie Shavers and Roy “Tiger” Williams on Dec. 11, 1976. The round saw a badly hurt “Acorn” being accosted by a glowering Williams who moved Earnie into a corner and applied brutal, non- stop punishment until the referee called a standing eight count. Roy thought the fight had been stopped, turned around and raised his hands in victory, but when he turned back to find a determined Shavers still standing, the Tiger’s spirit was visibly depleted. Still, he came on, but then, almost imperceptibly, Shavers started to connect with some medium hard blows. Suddenly he connected with one of his deadly uppercuts and it straightened the Tiger up. Earnie moved Roy into a corner and Roy could not withstand the ferocious onslaught. The referee now gave him a standing eight, incredibly the second in the round. Williams took a step forward, hesitated, and then collapsed, a beaten man. Ernie sagged over the ropes too tired to celebrate. Shavers later said he wouldn’t drive through Philadelphia because he didn’t want to take a chance on running into Williams.

JIM AMATO (historian, writer, and collector):

Round 1. Frazier vs. Quarry I, June 23, 1969.

Quarry was normally a counter puncher but at the sound of the opening bell he met Frazier at ring center and the battle was on. Toe to toe, head to head. No quarter asked. No quarter given. Thudding punches to the head and body were exchanged without letup and the Madison Square Garden crowd loved it. I do not recall referee Arthur Mercante having to break a clinch in this thrilling opening stanza.

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI (TSS Boxing writer):

Round 9. Gatti-Ward I, May 18, 2002.

Gatti was dropped by a patented Ward left hook to the body early in the round. Amazingly, Gatti got up but then protecting his rib cage was raked with flush head shot after head shot. On the verge of being stopped, Gatti suddenly rallied back against a now arm-weary Ward, landing vicious combinations to the head and body. However, Gatti then tired and Ward rallied back, battering Gatti around the ring. At one point, Gatti couldn’t even hold his hands up. Miraculously, though, at the end of the round a beaten and exhausted Gatti tried to answer Ward who was still throwing and landing when the bell sounded.

DAVID AVILA (TSS West Coast Bureau Chief):

Round 10, Corrales-Castillo I, May 7, 2005.

This was also my favorite fight I ever saw live. Very few people showed up to the fight. Castillo knocked Corrales down twice in this round. Corrales looked done and after spitting out his mouthpiece a second time, he had a point deducted. But it was the extra time he needed. As Castillo moved in to end the fight, he was caught by a Corrales right cross and staggered against the ropes. Corrales moved in quickly and fired more telling blows as the crowd erupted. The reporters looked at each other in shock at the sudden turnaround. I can still remember watching James Toney and Winky Wright running up and down the floor cheering. I’d never seen that before. Sadly, two years exactly to the day, Corrales died in a motorcycle accident on the streets of Las Vegas.

BOB BENOIT (former pro boxer, founder of the Massachusetts State Troopers boxing team, current referee, and retired Massachusetts state trooper):

Round 3, Tommy Dragon vs. Manny Freitas, Nov. 9, 1970.

Freitas was from Lowell; Dragon from Providence.  Freitas was down three times early on and the fight was stopped. The crowd went wild and smelled a fix. The referee, concerned about the screaming crowd, spoke with the boxing commissioner and even though the fight was officially stopped, it was started up again with the permission of both fighters. Freitas came back from the dead and dropped the undefeated Dragon twice, knocking him out and breaking his jaw. Never saw anything like it in 50 years.

JOE BRUNO (former New York Tribune sportswriter; author of more than 45 crime-related books, including true crime, novels and screenplays):

Round 14, Pryor-Arguello I, Nov. 12, 1982.

I was sitting at ringside in Pryor’s corner. Arguello won the 13th round big and after the round the HBO microphones picked up Pryor’s trainer, Panama Lewis, saying to cutman Artie Curley, “Give me the bottle, the one I mixed.” But I didn’t hear a thing. Amazingly, Pryor started the 14th round on fire, and soon he was pummeling Arguello against the ropes. The ref stopped the fight and I was flabbergasted. When I phoned my story into the Tribune, someone told me what Panama Lewis said. I ran to the dressing rooms and confronted Lewis. He told me, without missing a beat, that it was peppermint schnapps in the bottle. A year later, Lewis was given a lifetime suspension from boxing for his foul involvement in the Resto-Collins fight. I broke that story first because Artie Curley, who was dying from cancer, told me what had happened. Lewis’s lawyers threatened to sue me, but he soon pled guilty and that was that.

STEVE CANTON ( a Floridian, Steve has been involved in every aspect of boxing for more than 52 years):

Round 4, Ezra Sellers vs. Carl Thompson, Nov. 26, 2001.

There have been so many, but this is my favorite. Sellers was moving around the ring trying to get Thompson to come forward loading up on his right hand. Thompson, a better counter-puncher, obliged. He landed some but without effect as Sellers moved and rolled to take out some of the force. He was looking for the counter “upper-hook.” Finally, with his back to the ropes, Ezra caught Carl on the point of the chin with his short, powerful “upper-hook” and Thompson folded, completely out for the first and only time in his career.

JILL DIAMOND (boxing writer, and boxing official who recently received a Humanitarian Award from the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame):

Round 5, Andy Lee vs. John Jackson, June 7, 2014.

No hesitation.

CHARLIE DWYER (retired pro referee, former boxer, member of Ring 4 and US Marine Boxing Halls of Fame):

Round 10, Corrales-Castillo I

This round was stunning in its turnaround. The last round of the grudge match between Jamie Clampitt vs. Missy Florentino in Providence is a close second and still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.

 STEVE FARHOOD (award-winning TV boxing commentator and 2017 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame):

Round 1, Sechew Powell vs. Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage, May 6, 2005.

I’m going a bit off the common path here, but I’ve never seen anything like it and never will again. The fighters scored simultaneous knockdowns with the very first two punches of the bout. They both rose, then Powell kayoed K-9 with the third punch thrown. The whole thing lasted 22 seconds

BERNARD FERNANDEZ (TSS mainstay and one of eight lifetime members of the Boxing Writers Association of America):

The Fernandez Fab Four, listed in chronological order, are:

Round 15, Holmes-Norton, June 9, 1978, Las Vegas: All three judges had this instant classic knotted at 133-all after 14 gruelling rounds. So it all came down to those final three minutes, and until the final 30 seconds it appeared Norton would retain his WBC heavyweight championship. But Holmes reached deep inside himself for one more furious rally to win, 143-142, on two of the cards while Norton got the nod by the same margin on the other. It was amazing

Round 8, Matt Franklin-Marvin Johnson II, April 22, 1979, Indianapolis, Ind.: If Franklin – later known as Matthew Saad Muhammad – isn’t the greatest action fighter of all time, he’s at least in the conversation. His stoppage of Johnson in this round earned him the WBC light heavyweight title.

Round 1, Hagler-Hearns, April 15, 1985, Las Vegas: The heck with feel-out first rounds. If you’re going to bomb away, just get to it. These guys fought like they were both double-parked and the meter maid was down the street.

Round 9, Ward-Gatti I, May 18, 2002, Uncasville, Conn: Ward on the verge of scoring a knockout! But wait; now it’s Gatti who has Ward in trouble! Here comes another rally by Ward! Nothing ever filmed by Sylvester Stallone featured more momentum shifts or nonstop action.

DICK FLAHERTY (retired boxing judge and referee):

Round 9, Ward-Gatti I

I had the perfect seat as I was one of the three ringside judges. The referee was the legendary Frank Cappucino. Through eight rounds this was a battle of attrition as both fighters dealt out and received punishment. This was a “take no prisoners” battle and going into the ninth the bout was very close on our scorecards. Gatti seemed to be slowing down a bit when Ward landed his famous left hook to the liver. Gatti backed away and then went to his knees holding his midsection. Gatti was still on his knees as the count continued. Cappucino had his back to Gatti’s corner and did not see Buddy McGirt, Gatti’s trainer, on the ring apron trying to stop the fight. A second pulled McGirt back down.

Gatti somehow got up and managed to cover up from Ward’s punches. Ward continued his attack but was getting tired. Gatti then started to come back. Ward was forced into the ropes with Gatti now on the attack. Then in true warrior fashion Ward came back. He worked off the ropes and started to land on Gatti again with heavy shots, moving the bout back to the center of the ring. Cappucino was moving closer to the action, perhaps thinking of stopping the fight, when the bell rang. Ward’s corner thought the fight had been stopped and were celebrating. Both fighters were now pretty well drained but continued to battle through the tenth round.

Ward won a majority decision. Judge Lombardi scored it a draw and Steve Weisfeld and I scored it for Ward. Wow!

JEFFREY FREEMAN aka KO DIGEST (TSS New England correspondent):

Round 1, Hagler vs. Hearns.

The look on the face of Hagler when it was over told the story. It was pure menace. Even though it’s not what we really expected to happen when the opening bell rang, it was exactly what we expected from these two willing warriors, if you know what I mean. Total WAR! The first three minutes of the best three rounds in boxing history were 180 seconds of blood, sweat, and pain. Hagler-Hearns set the standard for what a FIGHT should look like. More than thirty years later, fans of all combat sports still yearn for a round this good. They can keep waiting. It doesn’t get any better than this.

IVAN GOLDMAN (ex-Washington Post and LA Times newspaperman, boxing writer, novelist):

Round 9, Gatti-Ward I

Gatti comes out hurt after a terribly punishing eight rounds and after catching a tremendous hook to the liver, sinks to his knees, his face showing utter agony. Looks like this is it, but he rises and protects his body with his arms so Ward goes to work on his head. But Ward punches himself out and Gatti comes back, first tentatively, then with vicious shots as he recovers. They trade dominance the rest of the round. It’s a savage round in a savage, ferocious fight. Both men rise well above what could be expected of a human being. It was unbelievable, full of surprises, twists and turns. It was a 3-minute drama. No clinches. If you saw it, you couldn’t believe it. You’ll never forget it.

ALLAN GREEN (former super middleweight title contender):

Round 1. Hagler vs. Hearns.

LEE GROVES (author, journalist):

 Round 3, Wilfredo Gomez vs. Lupe Pintor (Dec. 3, 1982).

While there were no knockdowns there was action all the way through. Gomez dominated the first 90 seconds by pinning Pintor to the ropes and whaling away with dozens of bombs. But Gomez made the mistake of hitting Pintor with one too many low blows, prompting referee Arthur Mercante to issue a warning. That gave Pintor enough breathing room to get off the ropes, after which he launched his own counterattack that had Gomez on the retreat. This was the round in which this fight crossed over into becoming a war and by the time it was done it became one for the ages.

HENRY HASCUP (historian, collector, and long-time president of the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame):

Round 10, Corrales-Castillo I

We all thought that the fight was going to be stopped as Corrales was getting pounded, but he unexpected turned matters around. Hearns vs. Hagler, round 1 comes in a close second.

KEVIN IOLE (Yahoo combat sports writer):

Round 15, Holmes vs. Norton

The fight was dead even with the heavyweight championship on the line and the round was sensational, with the guys going toe to toe and landing bombs. Two judges scored it for Holmes and one for Norton, giving Larry the win by the narrowest of margins.

MIGUEL ITURRATE (former MMA matchmaker, writer and Senior Archivist at The Boxing Channel):

Round 12, Chavez vs. Taylor I (March 17, 1990). For sheer drama, this was it.

DR. STUART KIRSCHENBAUM (former amateur boxer, co-founder of the National Association of Boxing Commissioners):

Round 5, Caveman Lee vs. John LoCicero, July 9, 1981.

We were crowded into an aging nightclub, the Twenty Grand, on a blistering hot night in the Motor City. Philly transplant Lee, a powerful puncher with either hand, was being groomed by Manny Steward for a title shot against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The fifth round started with Lee pounding Lo Cicero who appeared punched out from the brutal fourth round. For the first minute Lee pounded away with Lo Cicero barely standing upright.  Finally, Lo Cicero went down. just beating the count. As Lee went in for the kill, Lo Cicero caught him and wobbled him and Lee was now held up by the ropes with just 40 seconds left. But then Lee caught John with a right and Lo Cicero went down for the second time with just 16 seconds left, but this time he stayed down. William “Caveman” Lee is now 60 years old. The other day he came to visit me in my medical office close to where the Twenty Grand was.

Check out more boxing news and features at The Boxing Channel.

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Arne K. Lang

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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

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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.”

DiBella

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 www.360promotions.us 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

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retire

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 GMAnetwork.com’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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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