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The Fifty Greatest Bantamweights of All Time: Part One, 50-41

Research for the Fifty Greatest Bantamweights of all time was more time consuming and expensive than even the Fifty Greatest Featherweights of all time.

Matt McGrain



Greatest Bantamweights

Research for the Fifty Greatest Bantamweights of all time was more time consuming and expensive than even the Fifty Greatest Featherweights of all time.

Expensive because online resources don’t stock footage of the greatest fighters to have mixed it at 118lbs in the same way they do the other divisions, meaning I had to hunt down more footage; more time consuming because my personal knowledge of these men does not compare to that of the welterweights or middleweights and so there was much more homework.

But that was a gift.  Organizing a top fifty at light-heavyweight was illuminating for me personally, but far from the journey the same exercise has been at bantamweight.  I hope to share as much as is possible of the detail of that journey with you here.

In order that it is clear, however, I must first explain the criteria that guide it. This stuff is boring but necessary so please bear with me for just a moment while I lay it out.

This is a bantamweight list in the truest sense.  The appraisals contained within this series of five articles are based upon the body of work performed within and around this division only.  It is not possible to provide a specific weight range because the upper limit for the division was different in early eras to more modern times, but as a general rule the range under consideration was from the low end of the weight range to around two pounds over the upper weight limit.

Most important in conducting these appraisals were who a fighter beat and how he beat them.  Secondary, what was a fighter’s status in his own era?  Was he a lineal champion?  A belt-holder?  Or just a brilliant contender who amassed a wonderful body of work in his forlorn hunt for the title?

Lastly, skillset as it appears on film and head-to-head considerations, the most speculative of criteria, are taken into account.

With the boring stuff out of the way, and my promise to you that this will be the longest introduction of the series, we can begin.

This is how I have them:

#50 – Charley Phil Rosenberg (1921-1928)

Writing in the late sixties, legendary boxing figure Charley Rose rated Charley Phil Rosenberg among the ten greatest bantamweights in history; I must confess, I’ve no idea why.

Rosenberg, out of New York, was one of the key figures of the 1920s bantamweight division, but his career was relatively short (at only eight years) and his final paper record was hideous (33-18-9).  This is a fighter who won 55% of his contests.

Handled by the great Ray Arcel, Rosenberg battled weight throughout his career, sometimes shedding huge amounts in order to make the agreed poundage, tortured into shape by the legendary disciplinarian. This may have led to certain inconsistencies; certainly his chin wasn’t the problem – Rosenberg was never stopped

His prime was genuinely impressive, and it is probably on this basis Rose rates him so highly.  In his 1924 run to the title he went completely unbeaten and when he made weight for his 1925 title tilt at Eddie Martin for the bantamweight championship of the world, Martin’s fate was sealed.

Rosenberg managed a single successful defense of his title, stopping Eddie Shea in four rounds; sadly, the fight was forever tainted when both fighters were banned for life from fighting in New York due to suspicions that the fight was fixed.  It should be stated, too, that ringside reporters were convinced by the finishing punch and that Rosenberg’s ban was later lifted.

After losing the title on the scales, Rosenberg gave up his battle with the weight and departed for featherweight.

Why the late Charley Rose saw fit to collapse all this into a top ten ranking will never now be known.  Here, I will only state that I don’t agree and leave his checkered career to do the talking.

#49 – Jesus Pimentel (1960-1977)

 Jesus Pimentel was one of the most devastating punchers ever to box at bantamweight, with sixty-nine of his seventy-seven wins coming by way of knockout.

Still, he did not recognize his astonishing power as a youngster, boxing a disastrous amateur career under the impression that he was a boxer rather than a puncher. When the penny dropped, Pimentel raked a hole through the massed ranks of the Mexican bantamweight division the likes of which has never been seen.  When he came north, to America, the carnage did not stop.

Things got real for the Mexican puncher in 1963 when he faced contender Ray Asis in Los Angeles.  Asis was on a fourteen fight unbeaten streak and had never been knocked out; Pimentel blasted him out in six.  Asis went 2-1-11 in the remainder of his career.

After tearing his way through a swath of limited opposition he stepped up again in 1966 against outstanding Japanese bantamweight, Katsuo Saito.  Saito had carried both Jose Mendel and Fighting Harada the distance the year before; Pimentel got him out of there in eight.  His finest moment came the following year against the excellent Spanish bantamweight Mimoun Ben Ali.  The story went that Ali could be out-pointed but not stopped, having seen out eighty five contests without ever hearing the count.  Another granite chin succumbed to “Little Poison”, this time in nine.

However, it should be noted that when he then stopped Rollie Penaroya in 1968, he defeated a top-five ranked contender for the first and last time.  Pimentel did damage, but his opposition was good, not great, and that summary provides him with the benefit of the doubt.

In the end, he must go down as one of history’s greatest “what if?” fighters.  A proposed fight with Eder Jofre fell through during a contractual dispute (for which he was blamed, and which cost him a suspension); he was reportedly reluctant to go to Japan to meet Fighting Harada; his one chance at immortality against Ruben Olivares ended in a stoppage defeat; hurtful losses to Jose Medel and Yoshio Nakane were timed poorly in terms of the title picture and underlined his greatest limitation: if he couldn’t stop top fighters, he probably wasn’t going to beat them.

#48 – Bernardo Caraballo (1960-1977)

Bernardo Caraballo was the first Columbian to fight for a world title and a source of great pride to her people during the years of his career.  Now he is forgotten, footage sparse and difficult to come by, his name as likely to draw a blank look in boxing circles as the glow of recognition it once warranted.

A national champion at flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight, it was at bantamweight that Caraballo made a dent at world level.  He stormed the barricades in 1963 and 1964, grinding name after name into the dirt as he began his assault upon the championship held by the deadly Eder Jofre.  First up was perennial contender Mimoun Ben Ali (himself a contender for this list) who he outpointed with a dazzling display of skill in Bogota in February.

A quick, elegant fighter, Caraballo rarely dispatched quality boxers with punches but in his mid-sixties prime he outpointed many very good ones.  Next was former flyweight champion Pascual Perez who he decisioned in ten; following him were made men Manny Elias and Piero Rollo before his near-legendary confrontation with future flyweight champion Chartchai Chinoi.  After this savage war, Caraballo looked at himself in the mirror, eyes blasted shut by counterpunches, and announced himself a true fighter.

But it wasn’t enough.  “The Champion Without A Crown”, he would remain so, sandwiched as he was between the reigns of Eder Jofre, who turned him away in seven, and Fighting Harada, who out-pointed him in the summer of 1967 in what arguably remains Harada’s toughest title-defense.

No shame here; Caraballo was among the “best of the rest” in what was a wonderful bantamweight division.

#47 – Mario D’Agata (1950-1962)

 Mario D’Agata, one of the greatest Italian fighters, was fast-handed, fleet-footed and married a carefully cultivated body-attack to the wheel that this offense turned upon, the jab.  D’Agata had everything a fighter should want bar the knockout punch but it seems likely to me that his failure to leave Europe for America impedes his legacy to a small degree; there was a plethora of talent in Europe at the poundage, but he was capable of more.

Still, he achieved plenty, taking the title from French idol Robert Cohen in 1956 in Rome.  D’Agata had travelled to Tunisia in 1954 for a first stab at Cohen and perhaps had been unlucky to come away with a loss, but before his own people he made amends in fine style, heaping the pressure upon the champion as they warred up and down the ropes.

D’Agata seemed always to be riding Cohen’s coattails, picking up the European title he had relinquished in 1955 only by beating the highly ranked Andre Valignat, so finally catching up to his nemesis with a world title on the line must have been great satisfaction.

A deaf-mute, D’Agata fought with a kind of precise abandon that always impresses me on the snatches of footage that are available. I often wonder what it must have been like to fight in such thunderous fashion in profound silence.

#46 – Veeraphol Sahaprom (1994-2010)

 What to do with a problem like Veeraphol?

He is an incredible 16-2 in world title fights.  He first fought for the title in 1995, winning a strap in just his fourth professional outing, although losing it in his very next contest.  He last fought for an alphabet title in 2006.

And yet, here he is, in the forties.  Why?

The key is in the words “alphabet title”.  Yes, Sahaprom was successful in sixteen title fights, but only on four occasions was his opponent among the ten best fighters in the world according to Ring Magazine, and he never met with an opponent ranked inside the top three. Sahaprom himself was probably never the very best bantamweight during his own “reign”, Rafael Marquez his main barrier to the top spot.

My point here is that title defenses in and of themselves now represent no surety of a great legacy. The title picture certainly was confused in many earlier eras, but with the advent of paper titles the problem became compounded, and remains so.  In short, Sahaprom does not receive championship defense level credit for meeting men like Julio Coronel (21-16-1) or Julio Cesar Avila (22-15-1).  In fact, I would argue that between his two stoppages of Joichiro Tatsuyoshi in 1998 and 1999 and his loss to Hozumi Hasegawa in 2005, Sahaprom staged only four genuinely meaningful defenses (all against the same opponent).  For the most part, he just milked the title as the WBC shamefully sanctioned contests with one under-qualified opponent after another.

Still, he does have great longevity as a relevant fighter, albeit with an asterisk attached, and he built a resume that while underwhelming is certainly no disgrace.  His four fight series with Toshiaki Nishioka is absorbing if not thrilling, and Sahaprom came out on the right end of it; Adan Vargas and the aforementioned Tatsuyoshi were probably his other keynote wins from a career that has flattered to deceive but still warrants inclusion among the fifty most impressive in history.

#45 – Hozumi Hasegawa (1999-2016)

 It is clear that Hozumi Hasegawa did the world a favor when his promotional team found the cash to draw Veeraphol Sahaprom out of his Thai base where he had staged his last defense against a fighter who had won just one of his previous four matches.

But Sahaprom was a good champion and proved it in this losing effort in Japan, staging a beautiful rally based upon a gorgeous adjustment mid-fight which saw him coming square and pushing out his right hand like a jab. That right was a near-disaster for Hasegawa, who had to rally dramatically late in the fight to stop the rot that had set in as Sahaprom threatened to dip and push that right hand to victory. Close but clear for the Japanese was the right result, hard earned.

Hasegawa did considerably better in their rematch one year later (2006), stopping the former beltholder in nine.

The Japanese media heralded Hasegawa as nothing less than the second coming of Eder Jofre and elements of the western press drank the Kool-Aid; I certainly saw the appeal. Hasegawa was a gunslinging power-boxer with size and speed.  But he never had anything like Jofre’s technical certitude and he was eventually found out by Fernando Montiel who stopped him in four vicious rounds in 2010, sending Hasegawa scurrying for the divisions above.

Before that time Hasegawa built a respectable winning resume although his two victories over Sahaprom would remain the cornerstone.

#44 – Jorge Lujan (1973-1985)

 Jorge Lujan’s final paper record of 27-9 is hardly an inspirational one. Losing in one out of every four contests in which you participate is hardly the stuff that greatness, however peripheral, is made of; but Lujan rode a hot streak between the very end of 1977 and the beginning of 1980 and it was a thing of great beauty.

Lujan came from almost nowhere, bouncing off a (questionable) points loss to super-bantamweight journeyman Jose Cervantes into an unearned title shot against prohibitive favorite Alfonso Zamora, himself coming off a brutal knockout loss to the deadly Carlos Zarate, crucially in a non-title fight.

That meant that when Lujan blasted out the exhausted champion in the tenth round of a sensational contest, he became the legitimate king of the 118lb division. It was arguably the greatest upset in bantamweight history.

His first defense came against the number four contender, Roberto Rubaldino, who had earned himself a shot against the champion on the undercard of Zamora-Lujan, expecting, certainly, to be met with the former; but Lujan proved just as deadly, turning Rubaldino away in eleven. The rematch, staged at the end of 1979, was even more thrilling and saw Lujan turn the trick again, this time in the fifteenth and final round.

Before that, he would post a win over Alberto Davila, the only man in five successful title defenses who would carry him the fifteen.

When history considers Lujan at all, it sees him as a bland champion, a fighter who had no exceptional attributes but no glaring weaknesses. In the former matter, history is mistaken.  Lujan perhaps was not typically Panamanian in his style, but he was a world-class counterpuncher.  He also had a granite chin and a body that seemed invulnerable to punishment; finally, his engine could hardly be more proven than it was in his fifteen round contest with Davila, who subjected him to a vicious body-attack throughout; Lujan bided his time, let him inside, fought with him, and then stepped on the gas in the final third of their fight to sweep four of the last five rounds to retain his championship.

He staged five defenses of that lineal championship.  Sure, he suffered some hurtful defeats, and yes, he was eventually chased from the division by back-to-back losses to Julian Solis and Jeff Chandler, but in his prime, he was proven and brilliant.

#43 – Pete Sanstol (1926-1942)

Pete Sanstol, the greatest fighter ever to hail from Norway, spent 1931 waving around a strap he had won during the lineal reign of the immortal Panama Al Brown. On the face of it, this is rather silly, but it was done in part to tempt Brown into a meeting, a meeting that Sanstol felt he was destined to win. He was right and he was wrong.  Their “unification” fight in August of that year was close enough that it could easily have been scored a draw. A split decision rendered in the true champion’s favor was a fair if not a certain result, and Sanstol treated it as such, speaking magnanimously of the champion but warning that “things would be different next time.” And they were – Sanstol had his revenge in 1935, by which time Brown’s title had passed from him.

Sanstol is most famous for his endless pursuit of Panama Al but certainly there is more to his career. Most of it, however, was spent in outclassing unranked opposition in France and Germany and then the US; he failed to match a man in The Ring top ten until 1930 by which point he was 63-1-4. In that year he went a total of 2-1-1 against quality opposition including a split trilogy against Joey Scalfaro. A huge crowd-pleaser, Sanstol was a near-hero in his adopted Montreal where he was matched with Archie Bell for a version of the title over ten rounds, an ideal distance for a fighter of his aggression and work rate. Two soft defenses followed against Art Giroux and Eugene Huat before Sanstol’s people finally convinced Brown to do the right thing and fight him.

Sanstol makes the list primarily based upon the rematch of that contest.

#42 – Happy Lora (1979-1993)

Miguel “Happy” Lora’s career spanned three decades and eight successful bantamweight world championship matches; unfortunately, he spent much of that time pandering to alphabet corporations which severely limited his level of competition. In all of his forty victories over 118lb opposition, he defeated only three The Ring ranked contenders, while losing to three more.

For all that, he was special.  An inconsistent fighter, when he was at his best he was defensively brilliant and offensively sparkling, tricking leads from top fighters before countering even the best of them.

He first proved his great skill would translate at the highest level against the mighty Daniel Zaragoza in 1985. Zaragoza likely proved himself to the utmost at super-bantamweight but he remained a fearsome competitor at the lower weight and for all that this victory brought Lora only a strap and not the legitimate bantamweight throne, it remains a title-winning performance of the highest order.

His second title-fight was arguably just as impressive, as he and Wilfredo Vazquez swapped knockdowns. Lora’s technical defense was beautiful for all that it was unusual, a crackling, hyperactive mix of dips and small moves that left opponents off-balance and unsure. But the way he launched himself into punches meant he was there to be hit by an opponent with ice in his veins and he often boxed to the level at which he perceived his opponent to be, including in his 1986 meeting with Alberto Davila, a fight defined by missing rather than punching. The two staged a rematch in 1986 in which Lora, for spells, was at his glorious best, illustrating in blood one of the best left uppercuts in bantamweight history.

But Lora failed to win another meaningful fight. He staged alphabet defenses but shipped a knockout loss to Gaby Canizales and a wide defeat on the cards to Rafael Del Valle.

The man who heralded his final decline was named Raul Perez.

 #41 – Raul Perez (1984-2000)

Raul Perez, out of Tijuana, Mexico, was a giant of a bantamweight standing five feet ten inches.  He towered over the 5’4” Wilfredo Vazquez when the two met in August 1988. Vazquez was a fine fighter, but there was an air of inevitability to Raul’s points victory.

Only a few months later, Perez challenged Miguel Lora, likely the best bantamweight in the world at that time, for his alphabet strap. He turned in a masterful performance of stalking pressure, despite the fact that Lora’s famed defense all but robbed him of his jab. It was a clear victory.

Perez was then besieged by the greatest enemy of a fighting legacy, alphabet defenses, which kept him busy and paid until early 1990 when Gaby Canizales, the brother of the more deadly Orlando Canizales, came calling.

For all that he was the second best fighter in his own family, Gaby was a very real threat, and although Perez had already impressively derailed him down in Tijuana back in 1987 their second fight was no closer for all it made the distance.

After a ninth round stoppage of the undefeated Gerardo Martinez, Perez returned to alphabet nominated soft-touches while his huge frame struggled with the 118lb limit. Ready to move up a division, Perez took the ever-dangerous “one more fight” at the poundage and was chased from the division by veteran and supposed soft-touch Greg Richardson. He lost his title, and his good form did not follow him to 122lbs.

Perez, at his best, was a hideous fighter. Tall, with an enormous range, a ceaseless, steady pace and the engine and generalship to deploy it, he was also quick-handed and, at all ranges, an excellent technician.

Above him, somehow, are forty better fighters.

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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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Canada and USA

In Boxing, the Last Weekend of July was Chock Full of Surprises

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

Arne K. Lang



The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated Nick Webb (12-0, 10 KOs) in the fourth round. Allen said that he intended this to be his final fight, but will now hang around awhile.

In hindsight, this was an omen. Before the show was over, upsets – albeit mild upsets – were registered in both featured bouts. Dereck Chisora, trailing on the scorecards, stopped Carlos Takam in the eighth. Dillian Whyte outpointed Joseph Parker. And later that same day, in Kissimmee, Florida, Japanese import Masayuki Ito made a big splash in his U.S. debut, beating up highly touted Christopher Diaz.

– – – –

Joseph Parker is quite the gentleman. Following his loss to Dillian Whyte, Parker was gracious in defeat: “I say congratulations to Dillian. I gave it my best. The better man won.”

In case you missed it, Whyte survived a hoary moment in the final round to win a unanimous decision. Most everyone agreed that the decision was fair but there were a few dissenters. Well known U.K. boxing pundit Steve Bunce said, “I thought Parker deserved a draw.” Bunce noted that the scribes sitting near him were in complete accord that the most lopsided score (115-110) was far too wide.

We’ve seen fighters grouse that they were robbed after fights that were far less competitive. Parker’s post-fight amiability was all the more puzzling considering that he had a legitimate beef that referee Ian John Lewis was too lax, enabling Whyte to turn the contest into a street fight.

Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry was all on board with the selection of Lewis. “He’s a very highly qualified guy who I think is the best British referee,” he said. But Barry changed his tune after the fight, saying that there were at least two occasions when Lewis should have deducted a point from Whyte.

Veteran Australian boxing writer Anthony Cocks said that going forward, Parker, a soft spoken, mild mannered man, needs to have more of a mongrel in him. Cocks noted that when Whyte transgressed, Parker’s response was to look at the ref with a bemused expression. The first time that Whyte bent the rules, opined Cocks, Parker should have hit him in the balls.

– – – –

Top Rank hasn’t had much luck with their Puerto Rican fighters lately. First there was Felix Verdejo. Hyped as the next Felix Trinidad, the 2012 Olympian was 22-0 when his career was interrupted by a motorcycle accident. He won his first fight back in Puerto Rico, but was then exposed by Tijuana’s unheralded Antonio Lozada Jr. who stopped him in the 10th round at the Theater of Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day, 2018.

More recently, Top Rank gave a big build-up to Christopher Diaz, but Diaz, the 2016 ESPN Deportes Prospect of The Year, also hit the skids after starting his pro career 23-0. Diaz was upset on Saturday by Masayuki Ito in a match sanctioned for the vacant WBO 130-pound title.

Unlike Verdejo, Diaz was still standing at the final bell, but he was taken to the cleaners by his Japanese opponent who won comfortably on the scorecards.

– – – –

Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin made his pro debut on the Diaz-Ito undercard. Nikitin won every round of a 6-round contest.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, this is the guy who defeated top seed Michael Conlan in a quarterfinal bantamweight match at the Rio Olympics. The decision, which Conlan greeted with a middle finger salute to the judges, was widely seen as a heist.

In signing new prospects, Top Rank honcho Bob Arum likes to gather up fighters who compete in the same weight class as fighters that he already controls. This sets up a scenario where he can double dip, extracting a commission from the purse of both principals.

The cluster is most pronounced in the lower weight classes. These fighters, listed alphabetically, are currently promoted or co-promoted by Top Rank: junior bantamweight Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-1), junior featherweight Michael Conlan (8-0), featherweight Christopher Diaz (23-1), super bantamweight Isaac Dogboe (19-0), super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno (25-1), super bantamweight Jean Rivera (14-0), featherweight Genesis Servania (31-1), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (7-0), bantamweight Antonio Vargas (7-0), featherweight Nicholas Walters (26-1-1).

The aforementioned Nikitin launched his pro career as a featherweight.

– – – –

In July of 2004, Danny Williams knocked out Mike Tyson in the fourth round at Louisville. Iron Mike had one more fight and then wisely called it quits. Williams had 48 more fights, the most recent coming last weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Williams was stopped in the 10th round by a local man, 35-year-old Lee McAllister, whose last documented fight had come in 2013. In that bout, McAllister, carrying 140 pounds, outpointed a Slovakian slug in a 6-round fight. During his hiatus from boxing, McAllister (that’s him in the red and white trunks), served a 9-month prison sentence for assaulting a patron while working in an Aberdeen kebab shop.

Danny Williams’ weight wasn’t announced, but in his three fights prior to fighting McAllister he came in a tad north of 270 pounds. He reportedly out-weighed McAllister by 4 stone (56 pounds), likely a loose approximation.

Williams is a product of Brixton, the hardscrabble Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in South London that also spawned Dillian Whyte. But he has no intention of going back there. After the McAllister fight, in which he was knocked down three times, he said he was retiring to Nigeria where he had a job waiting for him as a bodyguard.

– – – –

The ink was barely dry on the weekend’s events when news arrived that Tyson Fury was close to signing for a December bout with WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. On social media, Fury said the deal was almost done and Fury’s promoter Frank Warren confirmed it while saying that it was conditional on Fury looking good when he opposes Francesco Pianeta on Aug. 18 at the Windsor Park soccer stadium in Belfast. Fury vs. Pianeta underpins Carl Frampton’s WBO featherweight title defense against Luke Jackson.

As to whether he would be ready to defeat Wilder after only two comeback fights, Fury, who turns 30 this month, said he was ready to beat Wilder on the day he was born.

Deontay Wilder is disappointed that his dream match with Anthony Joshua won’t happen until next spring at the earliest, but there are plenty of options out there for him and more of them for him to ponder after this past weekend’s events.

Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz looked good against Razvan Cojanu, dismissing his hapless Romanian adversary in the second round on the Garcia-Easter card in Los Angeles.

After the bout, WBC prexy Mauricio Suliaman gave Wilder his blessing to skirt his mandatory against Dominic Breazeale for a rematch with Ortiz.

Presumably that also applies if Wilder accepts promoter Eddie Hearn’s offer for a match with Dillian Whyte. The WBC now lists Whyte as their “silver” champion and has bumped him ahead of Breazeale into the #1 slot in their rankings. And then there’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller who has an Eddie Hearn connection and is a more interesting opponent than Breazeale.

If Wilder vs. Fury is a go, say Fury and Warren, it will be held in December in New York or Las Vegas. We make New York the favorite. The only good date in Las Vegas in December for an event of this magnitude is Dec. 1 and that’s only because Thanksgiving arrives early this year. The National Finals Rodeo, a 10-day event which fills up the town, arrives on Dec. 6, eliminating the next two weekends. And when the rodeo leaves, Christmas is right around the corner. Historically, boxing promoters shy away from putting on a big show right before Christmas on the theory that fight fans have the “shorts,” having exhausted their discretionary income on Christmas gifts.

There are some interesting fighters competing in the upper tier of the heavyweight division and a slew of intriguing prospects coming up the ladder. The division hasn’t been this exciting since the Golden Age of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, et al. Enjoy.

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Asia & Oceania

Les Moonves, Hero of Mayweather-Pacquiao Deal, Now Cast as a Villain

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing

Bernard Fernandez




“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has taken on a more sordid connotation in light of the avalanche of accusations of sexual impropriety that have thrust the 68-year-old Moonves into the unwelcome company of such accused high-visibility miscreants as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer.

But while the other aforementioned power players have been fired or indicted, their reputations in tatters, Moonves remains on the job as one of the most influential and highest paid (a reported $70 million in 2017) media executives in the United States. Despite a damning article authored by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker that details numerous instances of bad behavior ranging from merely dubious to criminally actionable, and to which Moonves himself has admitted to some extent, CBS on Monday issued a statement of support that seemed to catch the editors of Variety somewhat off-guard. The entertainment publication’s opening paragraph reads thusly: “In a surprise move, CBS’ board of directors is keeping Leslie Moonves as chairman-CEO even as it launches a probe of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by six women in a New Yorker expose.”

Why should still another story of alleged sexual misconduct by an older man seeking to exert improper control over younger women be of any significance to a fight audience? Well, normally it wouldn’t, except for Moonves’ position, which includes a say in the direction of Showtime’s increasingly important boxing operation if he so chooses. When negotiations for Mayweather-Pacquiao, a pay-per-view event which was to be co-produced by Showtime and HBO, hit a snag, Moonves insinuated himself into the discussion because it made financial and logistic sense for him to do so. CBS/Showtime had entered into a six-bout, $250 million deal with Mayweather, and three of the four fights held to that point had underperformed. Subsequently, the prevailing belief in CBS/Showtime’s executive offices was that Mayweather’s long-delayed showdown with Pacquiao was not only advisable, but absolutely necessary to stanch the flow of red ink.

“Without Les Moonves, this fight wouldn’t have had a prayer of happening,” Top Rank chairman and CEO Bob Arum, a longtime friend of Moonves, said after the last “i” had been dotted and the last “t” crossed. “The real hero in getting this done is Les Moonves.”

And this from Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, tossing another verbal bouquet to his boss: “One of the main reasons this deal got done, when maybe other ones didn’t, was having Les Moonves as part of the process. He was deeply committed to making this deal. He is someone that all parties in this negotiation respected. He was really the catalyst for seeing this through. He refused to take `no’ for an answer from any side. He was there making sure that the parties came together in a successful and cooperative manner.”

But while the high-level wheeling and dealing to finalize Mayweather-Pacquiao was done behind closed doors, so too were those instances when Moonves was attempting to arrange a private deal with a female subordinate whose career he could either advance or stymie. One such occasion allegedly involved writer-actress Ileana Douglas, who was summoned to Moonves’ office to discuss matters involving a television project in which she was to have starred. The New Yorker story quotes Douglas’ heightening discomfort as Moonves made coarse and physical advances toward her.

“At that point, you’re a trapped animal,” Douglas said of the incident. “Your life is flashing before your eyes. It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”

After The New Yorker story came out, Moonves apologized, sort of, to the six women who told Farrow that the CBS bigwig had sexually harassed them. All claimed he became cold and hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.

In a statement, Moonves said, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected – and abided by the principle – that `no’ means `no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career … We at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

What makes the furor that has suddenly swirled up around Moonves all the more curious is his prominent support for the #MeToo movement and other feminist causes. In December, he helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. A month prior to that, at a conference in November, he said, “I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for (sexual harassment). And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”

There’s a lot we didn’t know? Oh, for sure. We didn’t know for a very long time that TV’s favorite father figure, now-81-year-old Bill Cosby, would be classified as a sexually violent predator by a Pennsylvania court. Cosby is due to be sentenced Sept. 24 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and his alma mater, Temple University, rescinded the honorary Ph.D. it conferred upon him in 1991. The Cos resigned his spot on Temple’s  Board of Trustees in 2014, after 32 years, amid accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades.

We also didn’t know that Harvey Weinstein, 66, the co-founder of Miramax, would be dismissed from the company and be expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the New York Times ran a story on Oct, 5, 2017, detailing decades of allegations against him by over 80 women. It would seem that the most important piece of furniture in Weinstein’s office was not his desk, but the proverbial casting couch.

One of the more intriguing developments in the widening scandal involved TV newsmen Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer. In September 2017, O’Reilly, fired by Fox News for a series of alleged sexual improprieties, appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today show, where he told host Matt Lauer that his dismissal was “a hit job – a political and financial hit job.” Two months later, Lauer was canned by NBCUniversal after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another much more junior NBC employee. Three additional women subsequently made complaints against Lauer.

Boxing is a physical sport, maybe the most physical there is, and in most cases the transgressions committed were by fighters who resorted to brute force, the fastest way to bring cops and attorneys into the equation. Think Tony Ayala Jr. spending 17 years behind bars for rape, a conviction that came on the heels of a previous incident in which he broke a teenage girl’s jaw after he made unwanted advances toward her in the restroom of a drive-in theater. But it might be argued that those who seek to have their way with women by exercising a different kind of power are just as much or even more reprehensible, an affront not only to the females they view as disposable objects but to any man who would not want to see his mother, wife or daughter treated so shabbily.

According to CBS, there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. He deserves, as everyone does under the American system of jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence. But given the current landscape befouled by others who apparently felt that they could do whatever they wanted because they always had gotten away with it, sticking with the status quo might send the wrong message.

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