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Requiem for a Heavyweight: The ‘Fighting Bob’ Martin Story

The boxer — once a promising prospect — is petrified as the world of the prize ring is the only world that he has ever known.

Arne K. Lang




In Rod Serling’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” a washed-up boxer is told that he must quit the sport immediately as he risks going blind, or worse, if he has one more hard fight. The boxer — once a promising prospect — is petrified as the world of the prize ring is the only world that he has ever known.

The washed-up boxer Harlan “Mountain” McClintock (played by Jack Palance in the teleplay and Anthony Quinn in the movie version) is a fictional character, but one with hundreds of real-life counterparts. The history of boxing is replete with stories of broken-down fighters with little to show for their exertions struggling to maintain their dignity as they transition into the life of an ex-boxer.

Bob Martin fit the narrative, but his story is yet unique. Few boxers were as exalted when their careers were just taking flight. And Martin flamed out in a hurry. He was all washed-up by his mid-twenties.

Of Scotch-Irish descent with a Cherokee strain, Martin was born on a farm near Clarksburg, West Virginia. In 1917, when the United States joined the war in Europe on the side of the Allies, he was working in a rubber plant in Akron, Ohio. He probably could have gotten a draft deferment had he been so inclined. Rubber was one of the greatest of military necessities and rubber plant workers were integral to the war effort. But Martin wasn’t so inclined. Akron produced more World War I soldiers than any city in Ohio other than Cleveland and Cincinnati, nearly 9,000 soldiers in all, and Bob Martin was one of them.

Boxing was part of the regimen at military camps. In Europe, competitions between regiments were arranged as morale boosters. Martin had engaged in a handful of fights before joining the Army and volunteered to compete at every opportunity. It would be written that Martin scored 66 knockouts in servicemen’s bouts, which is nonsense, but it is a fact that he concussed so many opponents that he became a cult figure. He also picked up a nickname of sorts. He came to be referenced as Fighting Bob Martin, not simply Bob Martin.

The best of the boxers stayed on in Paris for a time after the Armistice was signed to continue their fistic endeavors at pre-arranged tournaments. Fighting Bob had several fights in Paris that would eventually find their way into BoxRec, the sport’s preeminent record-keeper. One of these bouts was a four-round match with Gene Tunney that he lost. Another was a 10-round contest with Fay Keiser to determine the heavyweight champion of the American Expeditionary Forces. The bout went the full distance with Martin winning the decision. He was the bigger man but Keiser, a soldier from Cumberland, Maryland, was vastly more experienced. Back in the states, Fay Keiser had won a newspaper decision over the great Harry Greb in the third of their seven meetings.

BoxRec, although a wonderful treasure trove, indispensable to boxing historians, is, and undoubtedly always will be, a work in progress. Thousands of fights remain buried in the rubble of time awaiting excavation by dogged researchers. Bob Martin’s best win in France is among the missing.

You won’t find it in BoxRec and there was virtually no mention of it in American papers as it rubbed against the transcendent Dempsey-Willard fight in Toledo, but on or about July 4, 1919, Martin knocked out an Australian identified as Captain Cowgill in the very first round (some say the first minute) of the final round of the heavyweight competition at an Inter-Allied tournament at a stadium named for Gen. John J. Pershing in Joinville, France.

That made Fighting Bob Martin the topmost champion of all the conquering armies.

The American troops returned from “Over There” to a grateful nation. More than 150 cities commissioned statues of the doughboy. There’s no evidence that Bob Martin saw combat duty, but he had the patina of a war hero. “Out of the war had come no finer fighting type, no better specimen of physical perfection,” wrote syndicated sportswriter Joe Williams.

The A.E.F. and Inter-Allied tournaments were sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and their point man in France was Jimmy Bronson. A great ambassador for boxing who would be involved in the sport for six decades, Bronson had managed a handful of fighters before the war, most notably Jeff Clark, the Joplin Ghost. He would be waiting at the dock when Martin returned.

Bronson could have had his pick of the litter and in the ensuing years he would be ragged unmercifully for bypassing Gene Tunney in favor of Bob Martin. But hindsight is 20-20 and Bronson would say that it was a no-brainer. Tunney was then a middleweight and his style wasn’t fan-friendly. Martin carried about 190 pounds on his six-foot-two frame, dimensions considered optimal for a heavyweight, and was far more marketable because he had a sledgehammer for a right hand and fight fans were partial to knockout artists.

In his first ring engagement back in the U.S., Martin knocked out two men on the same night. Details are sketchy, but it appears that neither man survived the opening round. The matches were held in conjunction with a county fair in Clarksburg; an auspicious homecoming for the West Virginian. Five weeks later, he met Joe Bonds in Akron in a fight scheduled for 15 rounds. Bonds, a 74-fight veteran, had fought all the good white heavyweights of the era and had once gone 10 rounds with Jack Dempsey. He lasted ten with Martin too, but Fighting Bob took him out in the 11th.

Martin had 12 fights in the next seven months, winning 11. Arthur Pelkey, considered the best Canadian heavyweight, fell in three. Tom McMahon, the Pittsburgh Bearcat, fell in five and never fought again.

Pelkey and McMahon had names that resonated with casual fight fans, but both were tattered remnants of the White Hope era. To raise his stature with hardcore fans, Martin would need to defeat someone like himself; a rising contender. Martin Burke, a New Orleans man, 24 years of age, fit the bill.

Martin vs. Burke, staged on Burke’s turf in New Orleans, was a crossroads fight for both men. Fighting Bob put Burke away in the fifth round and that propelled him on to a bigger stage. On Feb. 18, 1921, he met Bill Brennan at Madison Square Garden. The fight was scheduled for 15 rounds.

Two months earlier, Brennan had given defending heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey a rough go of it for 11 rounds before Dempsey knocked him out in the 12th. ”If Martin can beat Brennan,” wrote a reporter, “he will bounce right into Dempsey’s back yard.” But it was not to be. Fighting Bob had the best of the exchanges through the first five rounds despite bleeding profusely from his mouth, but he faded down the stretch and Brennan won the decision.

Martin rebounded nicely. He was 6-0-1 in his next seven starts including a third round knockout of once-formidable Gunboat Smith and a seventh round knockout of Frank Moran, a two-time world title challenger who had lasted 20 rounds with Jack Johnson.

Martin vs. Moran was staged at an outdoor velodrome in the Bronx before an announced crowd of 20,000 that included Georges Carpentier; the band played “Marseillaise” in his honor. It was a fierce fight, a wild slugfest, and although Fighting Bob scored a clean knockout, he left something of himself in that ring. History would show that he was never the same.

His next fight was a rematch with Fay Keiser, the man he had outpointed to win the A.E.F. title in France. They fought 12 rounds at an armory in Baltimore and Martin received such a severe drubbing that he took the next six months off. During this downtime he had a bad car accident — driving too fast around a curve he wound up in a ditch – and he would come to number this incident as a contributing factor to his downfall as a fighter.

When Martin resumed boxing he took the low road, a conventional tonic calculated to restore his confidence while serving the dual purpose of gilding his record. He hit the tank town circuit where he scored eight fast knockouts over no-name opponents interrupted by a misstep in Akron where he lost a newspaper decision to a fighter of little repute. Then it was time to renew acquaintances with Bill Brennan.

They met on the Fourth of July of 1922 at an amusement park in Ashland, Kentucky. The fight went the full 12 rounds and in contrast to the first meeting it was Martin who had the best of it in the homestretch. But by then he was so far behind that the verdict was a foregone conclusion. Despite the best efforts by the local papers which lathered the event with thick draughts of hype, the promoter took a bath. Rubberneckers watched the fight for free on a hill and on the rooftops of boxcars rather than pay their way into the arena. For them, the fight was less alluring than the fireworks show that would follow it. Fighting Bob was thought to have a large regional following – the amusement park sat across the Ohio River from Huntington, West Virginia – but the turnout bore witness that his following had thinned out.

Fighting Bob Martin had two more noteworthy fights and both ended badly. Very badly.

On Oct. 6, 1922, he was back at Madison Square Garden. In the opposite corner was a strapping 22-year-old lad from out west, Floyd Johnson, who had been lured to New York to serve as a sparring partner for Jack Dempsey. Johnson had come to the fore in the San Francisco Bay Area where he had cleaned up the competition in 4-round fights, the only kind that were then allowed in California.

Fighting Bob was reportedly chalked the favorite. If true, the price-makers could not have been more wrong; he was beaten to a pulp. In the ninth round, the crowd exhorted the referee to stop it, but he let it continue. Finally, in the 10th, Martin’s corner threw in the towel.

When Martin left the ring, said the New York Times, he was a pitiful sight. He had a deep gash over his left eye and the whole left side of his face was swollen. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated for what was described as an internal hemorrhage over the affected eye.

Things have a way of coming full circle in the Queensberry jungle. The young lions build their reps by preying on their elders until the roles are reversed and they become prey for a new generation of young lions. Martin was only 26 years old, but he was old for his years and he should have quit right there. But he didn’t.

Bob had no fear of Martin Burke who he had knocked out in January of 1921, and when Burke proposed a rematch he was all in. What ensued was a sad spectacle. Martin’s offense was non-existent. “His legs trembled, his breath came in short gasps, and he had no capacity for punishment,” wrote an observer. Scheduled for 15 rounds, the bout was halted in the seventh. Bob was still on his feet, but there was no point in continuing.

When Martin fought Bill Brennan in Madison Square Garden, he was accorded a warm ovation when he left the ring, not because his showing was stirring, because it was hardly that, but because he was Bob Martin, a soldier man. When he left the ring in New Orleans after his hollow effort against Martin Burke, he was cursed. “An infuriated mob,” said a report in the Joplin Globe, “hurled ‘Yellow Dog’ and ‘Quitter’ and other such epithets at him.” He was banned from fighting again in New Orleans and the president of the fledgling National Boxing Association sent a letter to all of the major boxing clubs in the country beseeching them to honor the ban “to protect Martin from himself.”

Martin left the sport with a record of 45-12-1 with 42 knockouts. An MP in the Army, he found employment as a West Virginia state trooper but that didn’t last long and then re-enlisted in the Army but that didn’t last long either. When he was mustered out, he spent 64 days at Walter Reid Hospital where physicians diagnosed his neurological deficits as incurable.

In July of 1928, a reporter for a Sandusky, Ohio, paper had a chance encounter with Martin in Huntington, West Virginia. Martin, he informed his readers, had the rolling zig-zag gait of a sailor stepping off the boat after a long sea voyage. He couldn’t perform any activity at a rapid pace without becoming dizzy. Martin was then a father of five, the youngest of whom was only a few months old, and was subsisting on his government disability check. “I can’t find a job,” he told a Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter who wrote under the pen name Cam. “I go to somebody, ask them for a job. ‘Sure’, they say, ‘what’s your name?’ When I tell them ‘Bob Martin’, they find they haven’t anything today.”

If things had been different, if, say, he had been matched more judiciously, would Martin have achieved a lot more as a pro? That’s doubtful. He was slow on his feet, somewhat robotic, and never cultivated a good left hand to complement his money punch. His left, rued Jimmy Bronson, was primarily good for holding his hat. But oh my goodness how he could crack.

In his 1932 book, “A Man Must Fight,” serialized in Colliers magazine, Tunney, the ex-Marine, re-visited their 1919 match at the Salle Wagram in Paris. Martin, he said, hit him with the two hardest punches he ever received, the second of which “felt as though a crossbeam over the ring had snapped and fallen on me.”

When Tunney’s book came out, Bob Martin was 37 years old. The days of his life hadn’t yet reached the midpoint, but from hereon he pretty much falls off the map. Rummaging through old newspapers one searches for information about Bob Martin as a middle-aged and then an old man, but draws only blanks. There’s a note saying that a son is a good high school football player, and that’s about it. One wonders if Bob attended his son’s games and, if so, whether his son would have been embarrassed to see him there.

It remained for Bob Martin to die to become newsworthy once again. He passed away in 1980 in a West Virginia nursing home at age 82. Stubby Currence, a sportswriter for the Bluefield (WV) Daily Telegraph, talked to some of the nurses at the home where he died. The nurses told him that they used to ask Bob who was the heavyweight champion of the world. He would raise both his arms in a victory gesture, and then usually turn over and go to sleep.

Perhaps there’s a special place in heaven for boxers who took punches that never went away, punches with after-shocks, as it were, subtle little after-shocks that over time take a terrible toll. If there is such a place, Muhammad Ali would be there and he would find a kindred soul in Bob Martin. Fighting Bob went off to fight in the war that was ostensibly the war to end all wars; Ali refused to go to war and they were so different in so many other ways. But at the core, they were so very much alike.

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Arne K. Lang



In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 8: Competing Cards in N.Y. and L.A.

David A. Avila



Rival boxing shows compete this Saturday as light heavyweight world titlists are featured in New Jersey while former world champion welterweights and middleweights tangle in New York.

A mere 150 miles separate the two fight cards staged in Uniondale, N.Y. and Atlantic City.

But there’s no mercy inside the boxing ring and certainly no mercy between boxing promotions. While Main Events stages WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in separate bouts, DiBella Entertainment stacks former champs Andre Berto against Devon Alexander in a welterweight clash.

Take your pick.

Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) has lost some luster and hopes to reboot his popularity with a win against Canada’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs). But he will be directly competing against WBA champ Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs), also of Russia, who defends against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2) of South Africa.

HBO will televise both light heavyweight title fights.

Bivol, 27, has slowly, almost glacier-like slow, picked up fans along the way by training in Southern California. The quiet unassuming fighter with a conservative style and cobra-like quickness appeals to the fans.

“I do not think that now I am the best light heavyweight, but I am now one of the best. One of four guys,” said Bivol during a press conference call. “But I hope in not the far future, we will know who is the best.”

That, of course, would mean a date with Kovalev should both fighters win on Saturday. Nothing is certain.

Kovalev, now 35, has lost some of that fear factor aura since losing back-to-back fights to now retired Andre Ward. Though he’s cracked two opponents in succession by knockout, many are pointing to the potential showdown with Bivol as the moment of truth.

“Most likely this fight is gonna happen since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” said Bivol. “Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”

It’s time for the build-up and it starts on Saturday Aug. 4, on HBO.

“That’s certainly a goal of Sergey’s and he’s made it very clear to me that that’s what he wants to do,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “He wants to do unification fights if he is successful with Eleider Alvarez. That’s what he wants to do next; he’s been very clear about that.”


Five former world champions stack the fight card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Former welterweight world champs Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) and Devon Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) lead the charge in a 12-round clash. FOX will televise the main event and others at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

Berto, 34, has been fighting once a year so it’s difficult to determine if age has crept into his reflexes. When he knocked out Victor Ortiz in a rematch two years ago Berto looked sharp and dangerous. But against Shawn Porter a year ago, the crispness seemed gone and he quickly lost by knockout.

Alexander, 31, has the advantage of being a southpaw. But he always seems to do the minimum when he fights. Last February he slowed down and allowed Victor Ortiz to steal the fight. All the commotion by the announcers was for naught. Defense does not win fights, it allows you to win fights. The lack of offense in the latter rounds cost Alexander a win in a match that entered the books as a majority draw.

It’s a curious matchup of former world champions.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (33-1-1, 23 KOs) the former WBO middleweight titlist meets J’Leon Love (24-1-1, 13 KOs) in a super middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. It’s another intriguing fight especially between two fighters with great personalities.

Quillin, 35, was ambushed by Daniel Jacobs in the first round a year ago in losing the title. Was it bad luck, age or both? As a fighter the Brooklyn-based prizefighter has a ton of followers who like him as a person. Few are as classy as Quillin.

Love, 30, has long been a mainstay in Las Vegas and since his amateur days his abilities have been touted. Throughout the years Love has shown that charm and friendliness can go a long ways, even in the bitter wars of prizefighting. But the time has come to see if he belongs in the prizefighting world. Quillin will present an immense challenge for Love.

A number of other interesting fights are slated to take place among former world champions including Sergey Lipinets who lost the super lightweight title to Mikey Garcia this past winter. There’s also Luis Collazo in a welterweight match.

One world title fight does take place on the card.

Female WBA super middleweight titlist Alicia Napoleon (9-1) makes the first defense of her title against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (5-1). It’s a 10 round bout and the first time Napoleon defends the title since winning it last March against Germany’s Femke Hermans. Ironically, Hermans now has the WBO super middleweight title after defeating former champ Nikki Adler by decision this past May.

L.A. Congestion

Next week the city of Angels will be packed with three fight cards in four days.

First, on Wednesday Aug. 8, 360 Promotions stages Abraham Lopez (9-1-1, 3 KOs) versus Gloferson Ortizo (12-0-1, 6 KOs) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif. This is Filipino fighter Ortizo’s ninth fight this year. You read that correctly.

All of Ortizo’s fights have taken place across the border in Tijuana. The 32-year-old now returns to California against another Californian in Lopez. He’ll be looking for his fourth consecutive knockout, but Lopez, 22, has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Inactivity might come into play for Lopez who hasn’t stepped in the boxing ring in over a year.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (3-0) returns in a six round welterweight bout against local fighter Tavorus Teague (5-20-4). Ceballo, who is promoted by 360 Promotions, looked good in his last appearance. The amateurish punches seen in his first two bouts were gone by his third pro fight. His opponent Teague has ability and can give problems if Ceballo takes his foot off the pedal.

One of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s training partners Ali Akhmedov (11-0, 8 KOs) makes his California debut when he meets Jorge Escalante (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a light heavyweight match.

Female super lightweight Elvina White (2-0) is also slated to compete. The entire fight card will be streamed at and on the 360 Promotions page on Facebook. First bell rings at 6:15 p.m.

Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. is the site of Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Friday Aug. 10. A pair of young prospects will be severely tested.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) meets Filipino fighter Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title. For Dulay it’s always kill or be killed. Five of his last fights have ended in knockout wins or losses.

Gamez, 23, seems to thrive under pressure and broke down two veterans in back-to-back fights at Fantasy Springs Casino. Now he returns to the Belasco, a venue where he has struggled in the past. But this time he’s the main event.

Another being severely tested will be Emilio Sanchez (15-1, 10 KOs) facing veteran Christopher Martin (30-10-3, 10 KOs) who is capable of beating anyone.

Sanchez, 24, lost by knockout in his last fight this past March. He’s talented and fearless and one mistake cost him his first loss as a pro. He’s not getting a break against Martin, a cagey fighter who has upset many young rising prospects in the past. Martin also has experience against world champions. It’s an extremely tough matchup for Sanchez.

The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV beginning at 6 p.m.

World Title Fight

On Saturday, boxing returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

The main event is a good one as Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defends the WBA featherweight world title against Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (26-1) in a 12 round clash. It’s power versus speed.

Rojas, 31, is one tough customer. When he took the interim title against Claudia Marrero last year he chased down the speedy southpaw Dominican and blasted him out in the seventh round. Several months earlier he obliterated another Golden Boy prospect, Abraham Lopez (not the same Abraham Lopez that is fighting on the 360 Promotions card), in eight rounds. Now he has the title and defends against the speedy southpaw Diaz.

Diaz, 25, just recently lost a bid for the WBC featherweight title against Gary Russell Jr. Though he lost by decision three months ago, that fight might be easy in comparison to this challenge against Rojas.

The former Olympian won’t be able to take a breath against the Puerto Rican slugger who is about as rough as they come.

Two more undefeated Golden Boy prospects get a chance to eliminate each other when Philadelphia’s Damon Allen (15-0-1) meets East L.A.’s Jonathan Navarro (14-0, 7 KOs) in a super lightweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Phillie versus East LA is like fire versus fire in the boxing ring. Boxers originating from those two hard-bitten areas usually have go-for-broke styles that result in pure action. Allen versus Navarro should not disappoint.

Allen, 25, is not a hard puncher but he’s aggressive and like most Philadelphia fighters, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Navarro, 21, lives in East L.A. but trains in Riverside under Robert Garcia. He’s slowly finding his timing and will be facing the fastest fighter since his pro debut in 2015.

Others featured on the card will be Hector Tanajara, Aaron McKenna and Ferdinand Kerobyan.

The card will be streamed on the Golden Boy Fight Night page on Facebook beginning at 6 p.m.

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What’s Next for Manny Pacquiao?

Kelsey McCarson




Manny Pacquiao isn’t quite ready to retire, and more big-money fights against high-level competition seem to be on the 39-year-old’s way.

“I feel like I’m a 27-year-old,” Pacquiao told’s Jamil Santos last week. “Expect more fights to come.”

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) looked exceptionally sharp in his seventh-round knockout win over former junior welterweight titleholder Lucas Matthysse on July 15 at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was Pacquiao’s best performance in at least four years, netting Pacquiao a secondary world title at welterweight along with a slew of renewed public interest in the boxing superstar’s career.

But what comes next for the only fighter in the history of boxing to capture world titles in eight different weight classes? TSS takes a detailed look at the potential opponents for one of the sport’s most celebrated stars.

Cream of the Crop

Pacquiao looked good enough against Matthysse to suggest he’d make a viable candidate to face either Terence Crawford or Vasyl Lomachenko next. Crawford is ranked No. 2 on the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s pound-for-pound list while Lomachenko slots at No. 1.

While Pacquiao is no longer under contract with longtime promoter Bob Arum at Top Rank, most industry insiders expect he will continue working with Arum’s team in some capacity so long as his career keeps moving forward. Pacquiao started his own promotional venture, MP Promotions, to co-promote the Matthysse bout with Oscar De La Hoya, but Top Rank was still involved in the fight which is why the bout ended up streaming on ESPN+.

Top Rank’s two hottest commodities at the present are Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champ Lomachenko and welterweight titlist Crawford. Both are highly-regarded, multi-division world titleholders in the primes of their careers who are universally considered the top fighters in boxing.

Lomachenko and Crawford would each present a unique set of problems for Pacquiao stylistically. Of the two, Pacquiao probably matches up best with Lomachenko at this point in his career. Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is much larger and heavier than both Pacquiao and Lomachenko, and unless Pacquiao just really wants to test himself against someone incredibly dangerous, it’d probably be best for Team Pacquiao to avoid fighting Crawford at all costs. Crawford would be a heavy favorite against Pacquiao and most boxing insiders don’t believe this version of Pacquiao could compete with Crawford.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is naturally smaller than Pacquiao and has never fought above 135 pounds. If Pacquiao could lure Lomachenko to 140 pounds or above, he’d find himself in a winnable fight against a top-notch opponent. Lomachenko would probably be the slight favorite based on age alone but Pacquiao’s power and athleticism would give him a realistic chance to pull the upset.

Other Notable Possibilities

Former junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan has long been angling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan faces Samuel Vargas on Sept. 8 in another comeback bout against lower level competition. Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) bravely moved up to middleweight to fight Canelo Alvarez in 2016 but was knocked out in the sixth round. He left the sport for a spell but returned to boxing in February as a welterweight with a sensational first round knockout win over Phil Lo Greco. A win over Vargas puts Khan in good position to secure a bout with Pacquiao, and the fight is a reasonable move by both camps. Pacquiao would probably be the heavy favorite, but Khan’s speed and long reach give him a decent chance to pull the upset.

Former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn won a controversial decision over Pacquiao last year in Australia. The bout grabbed huge ratings for ESPN and there have been many debates since it happened as to which fighter truly deserved the nod from the judges. Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) doesn’t possess elite level talent, but he’s huge compared to Pacquiao and fights with such ferocity that the two can’t help but make an aesthetically pleasing fight together. Pacquiao would be the heavy favorite to defeat Horn if the two fight again.

Pacquiao vs. PBC fighters?

Boxing’s current political climate and the ongoing battle of promoters and television networks for the hearts and minds of boxing fans usually leaves many compelling fights between top level stars off the table. Fighters promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy are almost never able to secure bouts with fighters signed to Al Haymon to appear under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and vice versa. But Pacquiao’s free agent status opens up new and interesting possibilities for the fighter to pursue noteworthy PBC fighters.

There had been lots of chatter about Pacquiao facing Mikey Garcia next. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been decimating competition at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Garcia is considered by most experts to be one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He’s the TBRB junior welterweight champion and a unified lightweight titleholder (WBC, IBF). While Garcia is hoping to land a big money bout against IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence, most boxing experts believe the jump up to 147 pounds would be too much for the diminutive Garcia who began his career at featherweight. A better welterweight target for Garcia would be Pacquiao who also began his career in a much lower weight class.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) is probably the best of the PBC welterweights. He’s considered by many to be on par with Crawford at 147 so it would be an incredibly dangerous bout for Pacquiao to go after at this point in his career. But Spence is aggressive and fights in a style that Pacquiao traditionally matches up very well against. Spence would be the favorite based on size, age and skill.

Slightly less dangerous to Pacquiao would be facing the winner of the Sept. 8 battle between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) are fighting for the vacant WBC welterweight title and the possibility of capturing another world title in his career could sway Pacquiao to seek out the winner. Pacquiao could find himself a slight favorite or underdog depending on which of the two fighters he would face, but both would be winnable fights.

The WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is a good boxer with tremendous power but Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism would probably give him the leg up in that potential matchup. Thurman hasn’t fought in over 16 months though and recent pictures suggest he’s not in fighting shape at the moment, so the likelihood of a Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight is pretty much nil.

Some fans want Pacquiao to face Adrien Broner. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) is a solid contender at 147 but probably doesn’t have the skill to seriously compete with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would be a significant favorite and would likely stop Broner if the two were able to meet in a boxing ring.

Mayweather-Pacquiao 2?

Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, but the circumstances surrounding the fight, and the fact it was the biggest box office bash in the history of the sport, have led many to suspect the two fighters would meet again in a rematch.

Yes, Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) is retired, but he’s unretired several times in his career for big money fights including last year’s crossover megafight with UFC star Conor McGregor. While it seems unlikely to happen, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 would still be a huge worldwide event worth millions of dollars to both fighters so those following the sport can never say never to the idea of it happening again.

While Mayweather is 41, he’d still get the nod as the betting favorite should he fight Pacquiao again based on what happened in the first fight as well as his stylistic advantage over Pacquiao.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor?

McGregor’s bout against Mayweather last year was such a financial success and the MMA star made so much more money in the boxing ring than he did as a UFC fighter that the idea of him returning to the sport to face Pacquiao isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Pacquiao vs. McGregor would be an easy sell to the general public. According to CompuBox, McGregor landed more punches against Mayweather than did Pacquiao, and the general consensus is that Mayweather-McGregor was more fun to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The size difference between the two would lead to an easy promotion. McGregor is a junior middleweight and Pacquiao has only competed at the weight once back in 2010. Despite all that, Pacquiao would be a significant favorite to defeat McGregor and rightly so. He’s too fast and too good a boxer, and his aggressive style would likely lead to a stoppage win.

Pacquiao’s Top Targets

Pacquiao’s top targets should be Mayweather, McGregor and Lomachenko. Pacquiao would stand to make the most money facing either Mayweather or McGregor. Pacquiao’s reportedly injured shoulder heading into 2015 bout left many wondering how the fight might be different had the Filipino gone into things at his best, and Mayweather’s age might play more of a factor in the second fight than it did in the first. A Pacquiao-McGregor fight would be a worldwide spectacle, one Pacquiao would be heavily favored to win. Besides, it’d be interesting to see if Pacquiao could stop McGregor sooner than historical rival Mayweather. Finally, Lomachenko might be trying to climb up weight classes too fast, and Pacquiao would certainly be fit to test the validity of that theory. It’d be one of the biggest fights in boxing and a win for Pacquiao would be another huge feather in the cap of one of boxing’s true historically great champions.

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