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Former HBO Sports Exec Kery Davis Thriving at Howard University

Bernard Fernandez

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Kery Davis

It was, in the words of the immortal baseball philosopher Yogi Berra, like déjà vu all over again for Kery Davis, the former senior vice president of HBO Sports. There the former Dartmouth College point guard was, back in Las Vegas where he had been a key figure in so many memorable boxing matches, enjoying what some would consider the intercollegiate equivalent of Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson, except that this new sense of exultation was not happening at ringside in an opulent casino-hotel on the neon-lit Strip. It was taking place in the press box at Sam Boyd Stadium, where Davis was watching the Howard University Bison shock the Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels, 43-40, in the most astounding upset in college football history, at least in terms of a point spread. The oddsmakers with the Vegas sports books had pegged the Bison as 45-point, no-chance underdogs, making the final result not so much Douglas over Tyson as, say, Don Knotts over Tyson.

Except that this miracle might not have as miraculous as it must have appeared at first glance. When Davis officially took over as athletic director at Howard on Sept. 9, 2015, the nation’s most academically prestigious but sports-deficient historically black college had a football program that wasn’t merely temporarily down. It was down and indisputably out, if not the most inept team in what is now known as the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division 1-AA), then certainly in the conversation. The first game Davis attended in his new role, three days after his hiring became official, was Howard’s 76-0 loss at Boston College. In its opening game a week earlier, sans Davis, the Bison had taken a 49-0 whipping at Appalachian State.

“We are a long way from being competitive with a team like Boston College,” a stunned Davis said then about what had to feel like a cold slap of reality. “We play in a conference (the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) where we think we can be competitive even this year. Our goal is to one day compete with the BCs and Notre Dames, but that’s a very difficult thing to achieve in one or two years on the football field. You can do it a lot quicker in some other sports.”

Davis’ tepid enthusiasm for the remainder of that 2015 season proved to be unjustified. The Bison finished 1-10, and they followed that with a 2-9 campaign in 2016, their 12th non-winning season in 15 years. That prompted Davis to dismiss fifth-year head coach Gary “Flea” Harrell, a former star Howard wide receiver who had played a key role with the school’s undefeated 1993 MEAC championship team. Davis set about identifying someone who could lead Howard, which had won mythical black national championships in 1997 and 1998, back to prominence and he determined that that person was Mike London, then the associate head coach at the University of Maryland. London had enjoyed success at both Richmond University, which he had guided to a FCS national championship in 2008, and at the University of Virginia, where he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coach of the Year in 2011. London has proven to be somewhat of a Magic Mike, at least if last weekend’s historic upset is any indication.

“Our win over UNLV was exhilarating and it was a huge shot of adrenalin for our program, but I had already seen the culture change,” Davis said. “We had done a number of things we needed to do in order to compete. It’s a process. Win or lose that game, I knew we were no longer the Howard that lost 76-0 to Boston College.

“Might we still have a couple of Saturdays like that? Yeah, we might. We only have 57 (football) scholarships as opposed to 85 for the UNLVs of this world. The numbers sometimes catch up to you. But in terms of our preparedness, we are now able to bring some resources to bear that will allow us a chance to compete at that level.”

Howard’s stunner over UNLV is important for reasons that transcend football. One of the most significant victories since the sport was first played at the Washington, D.C., school in 1893 came the day before Davis’ 58th birthday, and he shared the win in the company of his wife, Samantha, son Jourdan and daughter Lindsay. That this cornucopia of happy circumstances happened in Las Vegas, a city Davis had often visited and enjoyed during his 17 years at HBO, which began with his stint as director of programming and business affairs in 1997 and continued after he was promoted to senior vice president in 2000, was a homecoming of sorts, literally as well as figuratively as Jourdan is now the manager of a Vegas nightclub.

“My oldest daughter, Lindsay, is an actress who lives in L.A.,” Davis noted. “Samantha and the two kids we have together all were in Vegas and they went to the game. The plan was for me, my wife and the kids to all go out to dinner after the game. We won, and it was terrific. We reflected on how many times we had come to Vegas for big fights and how this felt as rewarding, if not more so, than any event I ever attended in Vegas.”

But wait, things would get even better as the evening wore on.

“As fate would have it, after dinner we went to the nightclub that my son manages and who do we see? Floyd Mayweather!” Davis continued. “We spent the rest of the night with Floyd at his table. One of the things he said to me was, `You were the first person at HBO who really believed in me and thought I could do the things that were necessary to become a pay-per-view star.’ I told him, `I did think you could become a pay-per-view star, but I never thought you’d make $300 million fighting a guy (Conor McGregor) who was 0-0.’

“I know Floyd likes to gamble so I said, `Can you imagine how you would have cleaned up had you placed a big bet on Howard?’ We had a good laugh over that.”

Davis’ path to Howard came through boxing, but it was a circuitous route that, upon review, is nearly as surprising as the Bison’s conquest of UNLV. Life deals the hand you play, and it was mostly happenstance that brought Davis, then a first-year law student, to the fight game in which he eventually became a major player.

“I was a boxing fan, the way most average boxing fans are,” Davis explained. “I wasn’t what you’d call a boxing geek. I couldn’t name the top 15 guys in the featherweight division off the top of my head or anything like that.

“But, you know, things happen. My first job in law school was working for a firm that represented Madison Square Garden, which was then suing Bob Arum and Don King for antitrust violations, among other things. As an assignment, they gave me a stack of three or four recent years of The Ring magazines. I was instructed – and remember, I was a first-year law student without a lot of legal skills then – to go through each issue thoroughly to identify every champion and significant fighter and align them with their promotional companies. So, for a while, I was a boxing geek. That was a pretty unique experience.”

Whether that first intense immersion into boxing proved useful when Davis, by then a practicing attorney, was interviewed at HBO by the man he eventually would succeed, Lou DiBella, is a matter of conjecture. What Davis is fairly certain of is that his time spent as a point guard for Dartmouth, where his role was to serve as a facilitator for his Big Green teammates on the basketball court, was a selling point.

“I talked a lot about the attributes of being a point guard, both when I was at HBO and here at Howard, too,” he said. “I can remember a couple of times saying to Ross (Greenburg, then president of HBO Sports) and Mark (Taffet, another former HBO Sports executive), `Hey, I was a point guard. I have no problem putting my ego to the side and doing what’s best for the team.’ I tried to bring the same attitude to Howard.”

Although it was Davis who first approached London about taking a pay cut to assume the reins of the Howard football program, Davis gives much of the credit for the hire to Howard president Wayne A. Frederick, of whom he says, “Sometimes my job is just to get him the ball. He’s young, dynamic, extremely intelligent and intuitive. Getting Mike London was a big coup on our part. Was it me who reached out to him at the beginning? Yes. But at the end of the day I had a president who I knew, if I could get both of them in the same room, we had a chance to close the deal.”

“Closing the deal” was a lot easier in the halcyon days at HBO when money was seldom an issue, unlike the tight budget Davis has to work with at Howard, where he has to find creative ways to make every sports-related dollar count. In that horrid 2015 football season that served as Davis’ introduction to his new and challenging role as a college athletic director, the Bison played just three home games in William H. Greene Stadium and averaged a paltry 3,465 spectators, and just 1,056 lonely souls for their sole victory, over Savannah State.

“When I first started (as senior vice president) at HBO after Lou left, the boxing budget was pretty substantial – certainly greater than any of the other premium networks,” Davis said. “Sometimes we solved problems simply by throwing money at them. If a guy came in and complained enough, be it Bob Arum or Don King or the Duvas, fine, go away, here’s an extra quarter-million dollars. But during my last few years there, the budgets were a lot different. We had to be much more cost-effective, if you will. The days at throwing more dollars at a problem to make it go away had ceased. We had to be more frugal.

“You have to know what your priorities are. At some point it became more important to do one or two big events and try to save money on other fights. It’s like that here at Howard; we have to make choices as to where to invest the limited resources that we have. The very first game I attended as AD was that 76-0 loss to Boston College. I sat there thinking, `OK, maybe this is a bigger uphill climb than I thought.’”

The current edition of the Bison features a “name” player  upon which further momentum can be gained, freshman quarterback Caylin Newton, younger brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Newton accounted for 330 yards and three touchdowns to spark the stunner over UNLV. His presence on campus reminds Davis of the time when he regularly was involved in the staging of matches involving such superstars as Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr., Lennox Lewis and Bernard Hopkins, as well as two of the last high-visibility fighters he signed to multifight deals with HBO, Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

“When Pacquiao and Mayweather took place (on May 2, 2015) I had already left HBO,” Davis said. “Floyd’s people invited me to the fight, which I thought was very nice. I went, and I did have a nostalgic feeling for two guys who I basically had been with for the majority of their careers.”

As a still-avid fight fan, Davis said he is very interested in the Sept. 16 megafight between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, although his attention will be somewhat divided. Howard is playing a road game at Richmond that afternoon, another contest in which the Bison figure to be significant underdogs.

“I had a part in signing Canelo and GGG to their deals with HBO,” Davis recalled. “GGG was probably the last multifight agreement that I did for HBO. I have been there with both guys, although I don’t have the same long relationship with them that I had with Manny and Floyd. But it’s a fight I’ll appreciate as a fan. It’s a great one for boxing, in what has been a pretty good year for the sport.”

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Muhammad Ali Biographer Jonathan Eig Talks About His Book and the Icon Who Inspired It

Rick Assad

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Given the breadth and depth of Muhammad Ali’s 74 years, it isn’t very easy to capture the complete essence of the man.

Dozens of books have been written about the three-time heavyweight champion including Jonathan Eig’s 2017 biography, “Ali: A Life.”

Born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942 as Cassius Marcellus Clay, he would one day be known around the globe as a world-class boxer, civil rights advocate, philanthropist and cultural icon.

Like so many others, the Brooklyn, New York-born Eig became intrigued by Ali.

“I loved Ali as a child. He fascinated me. He was outspoken, radical, yet so very loveable,” he said. “And, of course, he could fight! I was astonished to realize, around 2012, that there was no complete biography of Ali, even though he was probably the most famous man of the 20th century.”

Eig, currently at work on a major offering about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., added: “I had read lots of Ali books, including [David] Remnick’s “King Of The World: Muhammad Ali And The Rise Of An American Hero,” and [Thomas] Hauser’s “Muhammad Ali: His Life And Times,” and [Norman] Mailer’s “The Fight” – but those were not complete biographies,” he pointed out. “By 2012, enough time had gone by to put Ali in historical perspective. Also, there were plenty of people still alive to tell the story. I did more than 500 interviews, including all three of Ali’s living wives. I wanted to write a book that would treat Ali as more than a boxer. I wanted to write a book that would show the good and the bad. I wanted to write a big book worthy of an epic life, a book that danced and jabbed half as beautifully as Ali.”

Given Eig’s exhaustive research, what previously unknown tidbits about Ali did he come across?

“I learned thousands of new things. I think even hardcore Ali fans will find new information on almost every page,” said the former Wall Street Journal reporter and 1986 Northwestern University graduate. “I discovered things Ali himself didn’t know. I discovered Ali’s grandfather was a convicted murderer, for example. Ali didn’t know that! I read Ali’s FBI files, as well as those of Herbert Muhammad, Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. I interviewed Ali’s childhood friends. I found MRIs of Ali’s brain. I counted the punches from all of his fights. I measured how those punches affected his speaking rate. Ali’s wives also confided in me things I never knew. I spent four years working on this book, and every day delivered revelations.”

Over the years, Ali, who posted a 56-5 ring record with 37 knockouts, seemed to mellow with time which helped ingratiate him to an even wider audience. How was this possible?

“People change. They grow. It’s hard to stay radical as you get older and richer,” said Eig, who has written five books including three that deal with sports. “The late Stanley Crouch had a great line about Ali. He said young Ali was a grizzly bear. Ali in the ’70s was a circus bear. Ali in his later years was a teddy bear. We all loved the teddy bear. We wanted to hug him and love him. But it was the grizzly bear who we should remember first. It was the grizzly bear who shook up the world.”

Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram covered nearly the entirety of Ali’s career which spanned 1960 through 1981 and included a three-year period, 1967 until 1970 when he wasn’t allowed to box after being convicted of draft evasion because he refused induction into the armed forces.

In Kram’s book, “Ghosts Of Manila,” the author asserts Ali was essentially a pawn of the Black Muslims.

What’s Eig’s take?

“I love Kram’s book, but I think it’s dangerous to question anyone’s religious faith,” he said. “Ali was a true believer. The Nation of Islam took advantage of him at times. But does that mean he was a pawn? I don’t think so. He knew what he was doing. He made his own choices. One might argue that the NOI did more for Ali than Ali did for them.”

Ali wasn’t perfect and that included his fondness for women. As a Muslim, how did he hurdle this?

“He didn’t reconcile it – except to acknowledge that humans are human, they are flawed,” Eig said. “The thing I love about Ali is that he said he was the greatest, but he never said he was perfect. He talked to his wives about his weakness. He even talked to reporters about his flaws – his weakness for women, his disdain for training, his poor handling of money. He knew who he was and he never tried to be anything else.”

Eig, who has also penned “Luckiest Man: The Life And Death Of Lou Gehrig,” and “Opening Day: The Story Of Jackie Robinson’s First Season,” went on: “We’re all complicated, right? Ali was no more complicated than you or me, but he let the whole world see his complications – his racial pride and his racist behavior toward [Joe] Frazier, his love of women and his cruelty to his wives, his generosity with his money and his stupidity with money,” he said. “I don’t think Ali was different, just more open, more willing to let us see everything.”

Ali’s battles with Frazier, George Foreman and Ken Norton are legendary, but his two fights against Sonny Liston are filled with question marks, such as were they fixed?

Ali claimed the title on February 25, 1964 in Miami Beach when Liston failed to answer the bell for the seventh round and then faced Liston 15 months later in Lewiston, Maine, where he knocked out the challenger in the opening frame.

In Eig’s mind, were these two bouts on the level? “My hunch is that the first fight was legit. Liston quit when he knew he couldn’t win,” Eig said. “The second fight is more suspicious. Liston’s flop was pathetic. Bad acting! But I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. As an aside, Liston’s wife said Sonny had diarrhea before the fight, which might have given him one more reason to throw it.”

Still, Ali in his prime was a sight to behold. “Ali before the exile, in my opinion, was the most beautiful boxer of all time. His combination of speed and power and ferocity was thrilling, elegant, frightening and marvelous,” Eig said. “Was he the greatest heavyweight of all time? Maybe, maybe not. Was he the most breathtaking? To me, yes.”

Early in Ali’s career his braggadocio was off-putting to many. But much of it was showmanship.

“One of the Greatest” doesn’t sound as good, does it? If we’re only discussing his action in the ring, Ali was one of the greatest,” Eig said. “But that’s like saying Louis Armstrong was one of the greatest trumpet players without considering his voice, his charm, his improvisational skills, his smile. In and out of the ring, Ali was the greatest in my book.”

For so many, Ali was many things. What traits in the man does Eig admire? “I love his fearlessness, his honesty, his insatiable appetite for people,” he said. “He was so very loving. But he could also be narcissistic. He wanted everyone to love him, but he wasn’t always sensitive to the feelings of others – including his wives and children. He turned his back on friends like Malcolm X and Joe Frazier when it served his purposes.”

While Ali could be polarizing, he had his legion of supporters including Howard Cosell, Jerry Izenberg, Robert Lipsyte, Larry Merchant and Jack Newfield.

“You could add Mailer, [George] Plimpton, and so many others to that list,” Eig noted. “Those men were lucky enough to spend time with young Ali and to bask in the great warmth of his sun. He was great to reporters. He was the best story they ever covered. And unlike most celebrities, he really paid attention to them.”

Eig continued: “I only met him once, six months before he died, and I envy those reporters who got to know him and got to see him at his best. I think those who knew and loved Ali became his disciples,” he pointed out. “Ali’s friend Gene Kilroy told me over and over that he thought Ali was like Jesus, that people would be studying his words and drawing inspiration from his life for centuries to come. That’s the feeling he gave to those with whom he spent time.”

Ali was a boxer, but so much more. How does Eig see him? “I think Ali will be remembered as one of America’s great revolutionary heroes – one whose courage went far beyond sports. Like Jackie Robinson, like Martin Luther King, like the abolitionists and suffragettes, he loved America but refused to accept its shortfalls,” he said. “He fought to make his country live up to the promises contained in the Declaration of Independence. He will also be remembered as an important world figure, one who united Africans, Americans and Asians, one who helped Americans better understand Islam and helped people of Islamic faith around the world better understand America.”

In Ali’s last quarter century, he was almost universally loved. This is a far cry from being labeled a draft dodger.

“Ali was always a spiritual man, but in his later years I believe he clarified and deepened his spirituality,” Eig said. “He became more focused and more thoughtful.”

When Eig turned in his manuscript, what was his immediate thought? “I wanted to take it back. I didn’t want to be done,” he said. “I had so much fun writing this book I wanted to work on it for the rest of my life. I knew I would never find anything more fun to work on.”

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The Peculiar Career of Marcos Geraldo

Ted Sares

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 If you play word association with retired boxer Marcos Geraldo, you might come up with “chinny,” or “easy work.” But if you did, you would be wrong.

This extremely active Mexican boxer fought out of Baja California but was a staple in Nevada and Southern California and was 38-12 before he ventured outside these regions

Many saw Geraldo as easy work because of the 21 KOs he suffered but what they missed was the fact he had 50 KOs of his own and that made him an ultra-exciting type of fighter–and it guaranteed him plenty of marquee events. If you didn’t get Marcos, he was likely to get you. That translated to bringing in fans. He also was an active fighter and fought, for example, 12 times in 1972 alone. He also toiled 25 times at the Silver Slipper in Las Vegas—yes, 25 times—and he went 21-4!

Along the way, Geraldo (who at various times was the middleweight and light heavyweight champion of Mexico) did battle with four Hall of Famers — Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Virgil Hill — several world champions, and numerous title contenders. (Michael Nunn, another stiff opponent, could someday become a member of the Hall as well.)

As his career progressed, the level of his opposition became stiffer. Listed in the order of appearance, these are the records of some of his opponents at the time that he fought them: Peter Cobblah (48-46-5), Angel Robinson Garcia (138-80-21), Armando Muniz (32-6-1), George Cooper (49-4-3), Sugar Ray Leonard (21-0), John LoCicero (15-3), Marvin Hagler (48-2-2), Caveman Lee (13-2), Thomas Hearns (33-1), Fred Hutchings (20-1), Ron Wilson (71-33-7), Prince Mama Muhammad (29-1-1), Michael Nunn (7-0), Tony Willis (9-0), Chris Reid (14-0-1), Virgil Hill (16-0), Jesus Gallardo (16-1), Antoine Byrd (6-1-1).

Whew!

In 1979, Geraldo went the distance with Sugar Ray Leonard which surprised boxing buffs though Ray had previously been extended by others.

The following year he gave Marvelous Marvin Hagler all he could handle while losing a unanimous but close decision in a surprisingly tough thriller.

Hagler (May 1980)

Hagler pressed the action in-close but surprisingly was met with strong counterpunching. Both did plenty of shoe shining. First Hagler; then Geraldo. It was tit for tat and the fans roared their approval. What won the fight for Hagler was his stamina and harder punching which enabled him to tire the tough Mexican, but he never managed to break him down.

The scoring was Duane Ford 97-93, Art Lurie 97-94, and Chuck Minker 97-95.

The fans at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas gave both fighters a standing ovation as they raised each other’s arm up in a marvelous (no pun intended) show of mutual respect. The media framed it it as a “great” fight. It defined “fan–friendly.”

Geraldo had stopped Bomber John LoCicero before the Hagler fight, but was KOd in round one by both Caveman Lee and Thomas Hearns subsequent to Hagler. And then he was stopped much later by Michael Nunn and Virgil Hill.

His final slate was 71-28-1 — 100 bouts put him in rarefied company. Also, seven of those 21 KO losses came in his last eight fights.

After a very close review of his career, the word association that could more appropriately fit might be “incongruity,” or “action, or “resilient,” or even “peculiar.”

Sadly, he was always one big win away from entering the top tier.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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HITS and MISSES: Javier Fortuna Shines and More

Kelsey McCarson

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HITS and MISSES: Javier Fortuna Shines and More

The boxing schedule continued during the penultimate week of November though there seemed a little less action over the weekend than prior weeks. Still, important contests took place featuring some of the top fighters in the sport.

Here are the biggest HITS and MISSES from another week on the boxing beat.

HIT: Future Fortunes of Javier Fortuna 

Perhaps it’s just my affinity for southpaws, but Javier Fortuna looked sensational on Saturday night in the main event of an FS1 PBC Fight Night card.

Fortuna, 31, from the Dominican Republic, is a legit threat in the 135-pound division. His sole loss since moving up to lightweight was a split-decision to former titleholder Robert Easter in a fight that could have been scored either way, and his athletic and unorthodox style will just about always make him a problem for anyone.

Alongside being tied to Al Haymon’s PBC group, Fortuna is promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz, whose most famous recent client is probably former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. Like Martinez, Fortuna is the type of talent who could unexpectedly make some legitimate noise in his division during the latter part of his career.

MISS: Austin Delay’s Emotional Reactions to Accidental Headbutts

Despite the two losses on his record, there’s a lot to like about lightweight prospect Austin Dulay. The 25-year-old from Nashville defeated Jose Luis Gallegos in a 10-round decision in the co-feature of the PBC card on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Dulay’s a sharp-fisted, crafty southpaw with fast hands and good feet. While his win over Gallegos absolutely proved he possesses some upside as a rising talent in the sport, his emotional responses to the three accidental headbutts in the fight gives his team plenty to work on with the fighter as he progresses.

Referee Thomas Taylor did a great job explaining the key concept to him. “It happens,” Taylor reminded Dulay at least twice in the fight after the clashes of heads. Indeed, it does happen, and that’s especially true in southpaw vs. orthodox matchups.

After the second headbutt in the fight, which happened in the sixth round, Dulay angrily gunned for the knockout. Everyone loves action like that, but reactive responses to innocuous events aren’t on the path to the highest levels in the sport. Dulay needs to reel his emotions back in during those types of moments if he hopes to become a world champion.

HIT: The Savagery of Alen Babic vs. Tom Little

Hopefully, you’ve witnessed the majesty of Alen Babic by now. The 30-year-old from Croatia is the type of heavyweight you’d better enjoy now on the way up the ranks because, let’s face it, Babic’s style and skill set make him likely to be exposed as he climbs higher up the ladder.

Until that time comes, though, Babic is must-see TV. The savagery of seeing a volume punching heavyweight who throws just about every single punch with serious emotional intent is a wonder to behold.

For his part, Tom Little did his best to turn the Babic tide back. In fact, the 33-year-old was the first fighter to weather Babic’s early storm and offer a return, but Babic ultimately dumped him down for the third-round knockout.

By the way, that’s faster than Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic did it.

MISS: Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Not Making Superfight Priority

What shouldn’t be lost in the Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence debate is how both fighters would rather fight Manny Pacquiao instead of each other.

I had the chance to speak with both elite welterweight champions within the past week, and both men told me the same thing in regards to their focus on making one fight happen. Crawford wants Pacquiao next. Spence does, too.

While it’s completely understandable why these guys would seek the bigger payday against the legendary future Hall of Famer, something would seem to be broken in boxing overall when arguably the best and most important fight in the sport doesn’t even seem to have a tiny chance of happening anytime soon.

HIT: The Professional Amateur Conor Benn

Imagine having just around 20 amateur bouts and trying to put together a world-level professional boxing career. Now, imagine also trying to follow in the footsteps of your father, himself a former world champion.

But rising welterweight contender Conor Benn seems to be on his way to giving that run a serious go. Benn, 24, from England, defeated Germany’s Sebastian Formella in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN on Saturday.

While Benn doesn’t exactly have the look of a can’t-miss prospect destined for greatness, he does at least possess some of the qualities that could lead him to the top of the sport. Certainly, Benn believes it.

After beating Formella, Benn argued he’d done it just as good as two-time welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter had done.

“I beat him just as good,” Benn said during his post-fight interview.

He wasn’t wrong about that, and neither was his father, Nigel Benn, for lavishing praise on his son after his big win.

“Well done, son. I’m proud of you,” Nigel Benn said.

Benn has a tough road ahead of him. He’s basically been a professional amateur up to this point, a fighter getting paid professional money to employ an amateur skill set on fight night.

But he’s improving at a rate that suggests that might not be the case soon.

Photo credit: Sean Michael Ham / TGB Promotions

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