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Shawn Porter vs. Danny Garcia: A Family Affair

BY LUIS CORTES III — Boxing history is littered with mixed results when one examines the relationship between fathers and sons.

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BY LUIS CORTES III — Boxing history is littered with mixed results when one examines the relationship between fathers and sons. Recently father-son (trainer-fighter) relationships have become more prevalent in the sport.  In the past, during the period known as the “Golden Age” of boxing, a father tended to surrender his sons upbringing as a fighter to a trainer that had an undeniable reputation for his knowledge of the craft, a trainer that was more of a community fixture. It allowed the father to remain out of the business and remain just that, the father.

On Saturday night Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter will battle for the vacant WBC welterweight championship. They will provide the latest chapter of the father-son, trainer-fighter dynamic that has become commonplace.  What hasn’t become commonplace is for this deeply personal relationship to be a successful one at the elite level, thus making this fight on the biggest of stages with what could be a career defining victory for the winner a special one.

In New York at the kickoff press conference for the fight, Angel Garcia (father-trainer of Danny Garcia) and Kenny Porter (father-trainer of Shawn Porter) sat down and addressed their special bond with their fighters and sons. It was an interesting look at just how these two men have groomed their sons for the position that they are currently in.  It also showed that although their methods and relationships may be different with their sons, they are actually similar.

One of the striking things that were discussed during the interview was their sons future and just how their careers would come to an end. Kenny Porter stated the following: “I’ve been working on Shawn’s exit strategy since he was two years into being a pro. I have talked to him about the different levels in his career. The first stage and the second stage, so he’s about five minutes from being done right now.  This could be his last fight. That’s when I become a father again because outside of the ring it’s my job to make sure he’s protected. I’m the one in control of the situation cause I’m his manager. I’m under contract as his trainer and he re-signed with me.  So I’ll hold him out as long as I gotta, I’ll leave him on the shelf if that’s what’s best for his life and health.”

These comments started somewhat of a stir during the build-up of the fight. Many people offered their opinion that Kenny Porter sounded like many of the domineering father-trainers from the past, their overbearing attitude becoming the catalyst for the relationship to sour and eventually be damaged beyond repair.

This past generation of fighters at the elite level provided two prime examples of the overbearing father figure almost stunting the growth of a future Hall-of-Fame fighter. Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr.  both had issues early on in their careers dealing with their fathers as trainers that were unable to separate the business from the personal emotions that one has when dealing with one’s child; that age- old feeling that father knows best. Meanwhile, duo’s like Jack and Shane Mosley along with Felix Trinidad Sr. and Jr.  both were able to maintain a solid relationship. At least in the public’s eyes, they could keep business and family apart as they strived forward accomplishing greatness.

In contrast to Kenny’s statements, when asked the same question Angel Garcia said, “Danny’s the boss, I’m just vice-president. I give him advice and he takes my advice. Danny is a smart businessman.”  With that, instant contrasts were made, that the relationship between the Garcia’s was more akin to that of the Mosley’s and the Trinidad’s, while the Porter’s seemed to have an impending feeling of unrest.

One can see how these comparisons can be made from this one interview alone. However a deeper dive into their relationships allows for us to see that there are always two sides to a relationship, with the third side being the truth. Shawn Porter offered a peek into his feelings about the statements his father made.

“Like he said in the interview, it was my decision to start boxing. Our relationship has always been the same since we started. It’s always operated the same way. I’m my own man, but as life progresses things will change a little. I have a seven month old baby and I’m getting married soon, so I have my own family now. I’ve always allowed God to lead me in my relationship with my father. That’s why deep down in my heart it’s always been the feeling that I wouldn’t fight without him. From a business standpoint though, hey, those might be tough conversations to have in the future. We will do what we always do, talk about it at length and make a decision.”

At the recent Danny Garcia media workout in Philadelphia, Angel continued to address his relationship with his son. “The day I was diagnosed with cancer I told Danny that if anything happened to me and I died for him to keep going with his career. He told me ‘no dad’, I’ll retire.  We have a bond.  I’m in the ring with Danny spiritually. I’m his extra pair of eyes. We’re not perfect, we have our issues, but we know how to talk about it and solve the issue.”

For his part, Danny Garcia views his relationship with his father in a similar fashion. “Every day is not a good day, every day isn’t a bad day when it comes to father and son, but I feel like me and my dad have more of a friendship. It’s always been that way with us even from the beginning. We laugh together and we cry together. It’s not perfect, but like I said before, when it’s time to lock in, we lock in. Like after the fight; if I eat a piece of cake he’ll say, ‘hey, you’re a fighter, you can’t eat that.’ We laugh about it and then he’ll say ‘enjoy it.’  At the end of the day, I’m a grown man and he knows that and he believes in me.”

Whatever your opinion may be regarding the style or type of relationship the Garcia’s and the Porter’s share as a father-son, fighter-trainer, one thing is indeed undeniable: They are both successful. You get the sense that both fathers as the head trainers well understand at its core the ways needed to push their son. It’s a type of external motivation that another trainer wouldn’t be able to inspire.

Both Kenny and Angel made it clear during the taped interview that as fathers they are able to separate being a father from a trainer when it’s time to get to work preparing for a fight, that their sense of competition kicks in when round one begins and it helps them deal with the fact that their son is getting hit by another trained athlete.

So although the tones of the two fathers are different when they talk about working with their son, their approach to achieving success through hard work, dedication, and preparation towards the craft of boxing makes them more similar than different. After all, it’s those basic similarities that will have fight fans watching this Saturday night to see who will regain a world championship…or which style of father-son relationship will take one step closer to a unification showdown in 2019.

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Sacramento Honors Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight (Saturday, Jan. 25) former two-division world boxing champion Diego “Chico” Corrales will be posthumously inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame at the organization’s eighth annual induction ceremony at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

Corrales, who grew up in Sacramento, the son of a Columbian father and a Mexican mother, turned pro at age 18 and went on to compile a record of 40-5 (33 KOs). He won his first title in 1999 with a seventh-round stoppage of previously undefeated Robert Garcia. Now recognized as one of boxing’s top trainers, Garcia was making the fourth defense of his IBF 130-pound title.

Five years later, Corrales won the WBO world lightweight title with a 10th-round stoppage of Brazil’s previously undefeated Acelino Freitas. That set up a unification fight with the WBC belt-holder Jose Luis Castillo.

Corrales and Castillo met on May 7, 2005, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. To say they put on a great fight would be an understatement. The boxing writers in attendance will tell you that this was the greatest fight of all time. It was named Fight of the Decade by The Ring magazine.

The final round, the 10th, was unbelievable. Heading into the round, Corrales was ahead on two of the three scorecards, but his left eye was swollen nearly shut and during the round he was knocked down twice. No one would have faulted referee Tony Weeks for stopping the fight after the second knockdown. But, somehow, Corrales was able to rally, pulling the fight out of the fire with a barrage of punches that had Castillo out on his feet when Weeks waived it off.

Two years to the very day of this iconic fight, Diego “Chico” Corrales died in a motorcycle accident in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas when he rear-ended a car while traveling at a high rate of speed. He was 29 years old.

Corrales was a thrill-seeker. In a 2006 profile, Las Vegas Review-Journal boxing writer Kevin Iole enumerated these among Castillo’s hobbies: jumping out of planes from 14,000 feet, bungee jumping from 400 feet, snowboarding in treacherous terrain and scuba diving amid a school of sharks. “He lived his life the same way he fought,” said his promoter Gary Shaw, “with reckless abandon.”

It might seem odd that it took so long for Corrales to be recognized by the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame, but there was a period when Corrales’s name was mud in his hometown and perhaps the organization’s founder, Las Vegas sports radio personality T.C. Martin, a Sacramento native, thought it appropriate to let old wounds heal.

In 2001, shortly after suffering his first pro loss at the hands of Floyd Mayweather, Corrales pled guilty to felony domestic violence in the beating of his first wife and would serve 14 months in prison. “The whole family has worn a black eye for it,” Diego’s brother Esteban Corrales told Sacramento Bee reporter Marcos Bretan.

For all his recklessness, the incident didn’t jibe with his persona. In the company of Las Vegas sportswriters, the soft-spoken and well-spoken Corrales came across as polite and humble.

Corrales, one of five inductees in the 2020 class, joins three other boxers already installed in the Sacramento Hall: Pete Ranzany, Loreto Garza, and Tony “Tiger” Lopez.

Ranzany, a welterweight, fought four former or future world champions and was a fixture in Sacramento rings in the late 1970’s. Garza wrested the WBA super lightweight title from Argentina’s Juan Martin Coggi in France and successfully defended the belt here in Sacramento with a one-sided conquest of Vinny Pazienza. Lopez, Sacramento’s most popular fighter ever, made the turnstiles hum at the city’s largest arena where he fought eight of his 14 world title fights beginning with his 1988 humdinger with defending IBF 130-pound champion Rocky Lockridge.

Among the speakers at tonight’s confab will be Kenny Adams. Perhaps best known as the head trainer for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team that won eight medals in Seoul, Adams currently trains Nonito Donaire. He was with Diego Corrales for 24 fights, during which Corrales was 23-1, avenging the lone defeat by Joel Casamayor. Festivities start at 7 pm.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Ramirez-Postol, Taylor-Serrano and More

Arne K. Lang

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It takes a strong constitution to be a boxing promoter because things always go wrong. The only law that governs boxing is Murphy’s Law.

Carl Frampton’s first fight under the Top Rank banner was slated for Aug. 10 of last year in Philadelphia. With the fight five days away, Frampton suffered a freak injury while sitting in a hotel lobby. A boy playing behind a curtain knocked over a seven-foot pillar which fell on Frampton’s left hand, fracturing it.

This was the second time that a Frampton fight was knocked out by a freak injury. Two years earlier, a homecoming fight in Belfast had to be scrapped when Frampton’s opponent, Andres Gutierrez, slipped in the shower in his hotel on the eve of the battle and suffered severe facial injuries.

The latest bout to fall out because of an odd development is Jose Ramirez’s Feb. 2 WBC/WBO lightweight title defense against Viktor Postol at a Chinese golf resort south of Hong Kong. The event fell victim to the coronavirus, more exactly the fear it has instilled.

The virus, which produces flu-like symptoms that are resistant to conventional antibiotics, apparently originated at an outdoor food market in the city of Wuhan where live animals are sold. The numbers vary with each new story, but according to one account there have been 444 confirmed cases in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital city, and 653 cases worldwide including two in the United States, a man in his 30’s living near Seattle and a Chicago woman in her 60’s.

The fear of a pandemic (an epidemic becomes a pandemic when it spreads across multiple geographic regions of the world) has led to some drastic measures. The Chinese government has reportedly put 12 cities on lockdown, blocking traffic in and out. At many airports, visitors arriving from China are being screened. There are now thermal cameras than can record a person’s body temperature remotely.

Jose Ramirez (pictured with his promoter Bob Arum) was scheduled to leave for China yesterday (Jan. 23) but was intercepted. Viktor Postol is already there and apparently stranded until an outgoing flight can be arranged.

The Ramirez-Postol fight was to air on ESPN. No make-up date has been set.

– – –

British promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s close to finalizing a fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. Hearn says the fight will take place in the U.S. in April. It figures that Madison Square Garden is the frontrunner.

If the fight comes off on schedule, this will be the biggest women’s fight in history!

That’s because the odds attached to the fight figure to be in the “pick-‘em” range and that guarantees that boxing writers and others in the boxing community will be surveyed to get their picks – about which there figures to be considerable disagreement – and that will greatly enhance the pre-fight buzz.

Taylor, 33, last fought in November in Manchester, England, advancing her record to 15-0 (6 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Christina Linardatou, a fighter from Greece via the Dominican Republic. It was Taylor’s first fight at 140 after previously unifying the lightweight title with a hard-fought decision over Belgium’s Delfine Persoon.

Amanda Serrano, a 31-year-old southpaw, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, has won titles in five weight divisions. She last fought as a featherweight, turning away gritty Heather Hardy, but has competed as high as 140. Boasting a 37-1-1 record, she’s won 23 straight, 18 by stoppage, 10 in the opening round

What sets women boxers apart from their male counterparts is that the women have a significantly lower knockout ratio. Amanda Serrano is the glaring exception.

Despite a less eye-catching record, Taylor has arguably fought the stiffer competition considering her extensive amateur background. As a pro, her victims include Cindy Serrano, Amanda’s older sister by six years. Taylor whitewashed her in a match at Boston Garden, prompting the elder Serrano sister to call it a career.

– – –

The most bizarre (non)story to appear in a boxing web site this week involved former unified heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. A man representing Bowe, identified as Eli Karabell, was frustrated because Eddie Hearn wasn’t returning his calls. Karabell had offered Hearn the right of first refusal on Bowe’s next fight.

Bowe, now 51 years old, last fought in a boxing ring in 2008 when he returned to the sport after a three-and-half year absence for an 8-round bout in Germany. In 2013, he appeared in a kickboxing fight in Thailand where he was stopped in the second round after being knocked down five times by leg kicks.

“Will there be another chapter to write for Bowe?” concluded the author of this piece.

Egads, let’s hope not.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Although a lot of disinformation comes out of the mouths of boxing promoters, Bob Arum was apparently serious when he broached the idea of a two-fight series between Terence Crawford and Conor McGregor, the first fight to be conducted under MMA rules and the second under boxing rules.

Crawford is amenable. “I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself,” he told ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “…I haven’t been in that (wrestling) environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background.”

Crawford, 32, last wrestled in middle school so he would certainly need a refresher course. However, he would have a better chance of defeating Conor McGregor in an MMA match than McGregor would have of defeating him in a boxing match. So, if Arum’s proposed two-fight series ever comes off, the tailpiece may be unnecessary.

– – –

As first reported by ESPN’s Steve Kim, Andy Ruiz Jr. has dumped trainer Manny Robles. According to Kim’s report, Ruiz’s father informed Robles of the decision and said it was Al Haymon’s idea.

Andy Ruiz appears to be one of those people that can gain weight just looking at food. He weighed 297 ½ pounds for his pro debut at age 19, carried 268 pounds for his first meeting with Anthony Joshua, and ballooned up to 283 ½ for the rematch after leading reporters to believe that he had actually slimmed down for the sequel.

Ruiz, noted Kim, went from a feel-good story to a cautionary tale in just six months.

– – –

Who ya’ gonna believe?

A certain disreputable web site, bragging that it had an exclusive, told its readers that Canelo Alvarez had settled on Billy Joe Saunders as his next opponent and that they would meet on Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas. The next day, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, a far more trustworthy source, reported that Ryota Murata had emerged as the frontrunner and that negotiations were underway to stage the fight in Japan.

Perhaps it makes sense for Canelo to promote his brand in a new market. However, if he fights Murata, who holds a WBA belt, he would reportedly be dropping back to 160 and at age 29 he appears to have outgrown the weight class.

Stay tuned.

– – –

If Caleb Plant were an NBA player, his name would be Kevin Love. Plant, who recently married FOX/PBC reporter Jordan Hardy, is the only U.S.-born, non-Hispanic white person among the various champions in the 17 weight divisions.

Plant, who hails from tiny Ashland City, Tenn. (23 miles from Nashville) defends his IBF super middleweight title on Feb. 15 at Nashville’s 20,000-seat Bridgestone Arena. In the opposite corner will be Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz who will be making his U.S. debut.

The 24-year-old Feigenbutz, who turned pro at age 16, has won 10 straight and 30 of his last 31. He represents a big step up in class from Plant’s last opponent, Mike Lee, who was in way over his head.

– – –

A sad note from South Africa: Five days after the death of trailblazer Peter Mathebula, his widow, Emma Gabaitsiwe Mathebula, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. Peter Mathebula’s funeral, originally set for Saturday, has been pushed back until Tuesday and will now be a joint funeral.

Mathebula, who won the WBA world flyweight title in 1980, basically died a pauper, having sold all of  his boxing memorabilia to keep his head above water. His heirs had reached out to the government for assistance in defraying the costs of his burial.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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