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Mayweather’s Unfortunate Announcement Stole No Thunder From Canelo-GGG II

In sports, as in life, timing is everything. An example of perfectly good timing, at least for the winning team, came Saturday afternoon in Auburn, Ala

Bernard Fernandez

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In sports, as in life, timing is everything. An example of perfectly good timing, at least for the winning team, came Saturday afternoon in Auburn, Ala., as LSU kicker Cole Tracy nailed a last-second field goal to cap a fourth-quarter rally and lift LSU to a 22-21 upset of Auburn in a terrific college football game.

An example of perfectly rotten timing came earlier in the day, as Floyd Mayweather Jr. revealed that he would be coming out of retirement, again, to take on the ghost of Manny Pacquiao in a rematch of their May 2, 2015, megafight that set financial records, but delivered far less action than any boxing fan could have hoped for given the astronomical ticket prices and only slightly less-outrageous pay-per-view subscription fee.

Coincidentally (possible, but unlikely), when they found themselves at a musical festival in Tokyo, “Money” and “Pac-Man” confronted one another and more or less announced the likelihood of a do-over sometime in December. The proposed rematch is something that Mayweather apparently believes will generate the same sort of global fascination that their first fight did, not to mention another hefty payday for himself.

“Manny don’t want none of this, baby,” a preening Mayweather was heard to say in a video that not unexpectedly went viral. “Easy work.”

An accompanying Instagram post on Mayweather’s account revealed why boxing’s foremost attention hound might consider another go at Pacquiao in a bout that the masses haven’t exactly been clamoring for. “Another 9 figure pay day on the way,” he optimistically predicted.

If Mayweather can squeeze another $100 million out of the public to put on another dog-and-pony show, he might prove himself to be more of a marketing genius than he already has demonstrated time and again. But it says here that the old master (he’s 41) will be sorely disappointed to learn that his drawing power is greatly diminished at this late stage of a remarkable career, a reality even more evident for the 39-year-old Pacquiao despite his recently won “regular” WBA welterweight title that came on a seventh-round stoppage of the even more-faded Lucas Matthysse.

Now, back to the matter of timing. Does anyone think it wasn’t planned that the notion of a May-Pac II clash was revealed on the very morning that Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin were to square off in the biggest fight of 2018, a fight that for the most part lived up to the lofty hype? It was widely speculated that Mayweather was trying to “steal the thunder” from Canelo-GGG II, which on the face of it is as much a certainty as early-morning sunrises. Much of the shenanigans that Mayweather is involved in to remain a lightning rod for controversy are orchestrated. Some, unfortunately, is not.

Let one thing be made clear. In addition to his gift for making himself the most fabulously wealthy boxer ever, Mayweather is the finest fighter of his era. He was the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet for years, and one of the best ever, although the man who bills himself as “TBE” (the best ever) might be a tad excessive in his boastful claim to such a distinction. Many boxing historians would make him an underdog if somehow he could be paired, prime on prime, against Sugar Ray Robinson at welterweight, Roberto Duran at lightweight or Sugar Ray Leonard at any weight. But even now, Mayweather’s magnificent defense and overall skill set would, at least initially, stamp him as a top four or five pound-for-pound fighter were he to come back to campaign in earnest in a deep welterweight division packed with such young guns as Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman and, maybe soon, elite 140-pounders Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis.

Conspicuously absent from the list of most-relevant welterweights is future first-ballot Hall of Famer Pacquiao, the secondary title he wrested from the used-up Matthysse (who promptly announced his retirement) notwithstanding. The only man ever to win world titles in eight weight classes, Pacquiao’s handling of Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, marked his first victory inside the distance since his 12th-round TKO of Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14, 2009, snapping a kayo-less streak of 13 bouts.

That Pacquiao would subject himself to another near-certain loss to Mayweather is not surprising. Unlike the presumably fixed-for-life Mayweather, Manny appears to be in desperate financial straits. He owes millions of dollars to the IRS, has been jettisoned by his longtime promotional company, Top Rank, after a 17-year relationship, and he had to put up some of his own dwindling funds to promote the fight with Matthysse, which tanked at the box office. All of the elite fighters at 147 want to get a piece of Manny while there is still a scrap to fight over, but the Fab Filipino has to realize that his last, best shot at a significant payday might necessitate offering himself up as another testament to Floyd’s ego. When last they fought three-plus years ago, Pacquiao’s more enthusiastic supporters backed him with their hearts and wallets instead of with rationality, which dictated that his was probably a lost cause from the beginning. But at least Pacquiao had the excuse that he was fighting with a bum shoulder, an injury he concealed until after the fact.

It should not be inferred that Mayweather rose to the heights he did by beating up on used-to-be’s, never-were’s and not-quite-there-yets. There are many big-name victims on his resume, and he dispatched most of them in convincing fashion. But as he developed an antihero persona that stirred the masses one way or the other, raised his profile and inflated his bank account, he became ever more protective of his undefeated record and veneer of invincibility.  His obstinance was the primary roadblock to delaying a fight with Pacquiao that came five years later than it should have, and his two bouts thereafter were a perfunctory tuneup of mouthy Andre Berto, who fashioned himself as Floyd Lite, and the novelty matchup with even mouthier UFC superstar Conor McGregor, whose crossover into a fighting discipline in which he played the deluded novice to “Money’s” grand master made the Irishman more of a designated victim than legitimate threat.

Now Mayweather is back, which might be because, like other retired greats, he craves the spotlight that has since focused on others. But it might also owe to the possibility that his fabulous and much-flaunted wealth, like that once possessed by Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, was not so fabulous as to be severely whittled down by his exorbitant spending habits.

In a 2014 Showtime special in which his lifestyle of the rich and famous was examined by, yes, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host Robin Leach, Mayweather’s otherworldly extravagance was nearly as incomprehensible to regular folk as that displayed by  Charles Foster Kane, as played by the great Orson Welles, in the 1941 film classic Citizen Kane. Among the nuggets of information revealed in that program:

*Mayweather maintained three residences in Las Vegas, one in Sunny Isles, Fla., outside of Miami, one in Los Angeles and one in New York City. Among the 88 luxury cars he had purchased for himself and members of his unwieldy entourage, he kept a matching set at his primary Vegas residence (those were white) and one in Florida (those were black) “because I don’t want to get confused where I am,” he told Leach.

*Despite his fleet of spiffy rides, he couldn’t resist the urge to shell out $4.8 million for the world’s most expensive car, a Koenigseeg CCXR Trevita, a land rocket that can go from zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 250 mph. After Leach’s camera crew departed, Mayweather further splurged on a $3.2 million Pagani Huayra and a $3.3 million Aston-Martin 177.

*He wore wildly expensive boxer shorts and sneakers (Christian Louboutins, which are priced anywhere from $795 to $3,595 a pair, depending on the model) only once before discarding them.

*He kept on staff a personal, in-residence chef at $4,000 a day (useful if he got the late-night munchies) and a personal barber charged with the daily responsibility of keeping Floyd’s shaved skull shiny and follicle-free.

*The bars at his various residences are stocked with his beverage of choice (Louis XIII Remy Martin Cognac, which goes for $3,500 a bottle).

Although Mayweather’s investments supposedly guaranteed him at least $1 million a month in interest, his expenditures far exceeded that amount, which might have caused a cash-flow problem as he no longer is an active boxer and receiving checks with lots of zeros on them. Given his fondness for betting big on sports events, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop (he only goes public on those occasions when he collects on wagers), it is not unreasonable to believe that he either has cut back on his spending, sold off some of his pricier boy toys to lower the overhead or – more to the point in this instance – decided to throw down again with Manny for fun, profit and self-gratification.

But should Mayweather proceed with still another flight of fancy, he is apt to find out that all the network executives and other power brokers once obliged to dance to his tune aren’t willing to give him anything he wants, or even most of it, this time around. Those he bossed around because he could on his way up might want some payback now that he no longer is holding the whip. Even fans who once felt compelled to follow Mayweather’s every move might now balk at ponying up for a second installment of the slow waltz with Manny as the realization settles in that the first fight, when both men ostensibly were better than they are now, wasn’t exactly a barnburner.

No, Floyd didn’t steal thunder from Canelo and GGG with an announcement that made news but did not – could not – snatch boxing’s biggest headlines on a day in which a really good and competitive fight wasn’t about to be supplanted by one that wasn’t all that compelling three years ago, and another that might or might not take place in December.

If there is any surprise should Mayweather actually go through with this, it will come when he discovers he no longer controls the narrative, and he can’t regain his grasp on the steering wheel by relentlessly insulting Pacquiao or trying to surpass his own record for titillating f-bombs. For the Pacquiao fight in 2015, he ordered the revocation of credentials from two female reporters, Michelle Beadle and Rachel Nichols, who had the temerity to mention Floyd’s history of domestic abuse toward women, which is much more of a hot-button topic now than it was then. Beadle did not particularly mind being absent on fight night, and she said there is more to Mayweather, not all of it positive, than his superb defense, signature shoulder roll and unblemished record inside the ropes.

“I feel strongly about holding people accountable for their actions,” Beadle wrote after her credential had been lifted. “People are fed up. A lot, not all, but a lot of fans are tired of rooting for terrible human beings who are allowed to continue being terrible, so long as they’re winning.”

That assessment might be overly harsh. I don’t know Floyd well enough to weigh in on the subject one way or the other. But it is, and always has been, abundantly evident that his undeniable talent is eclipsed only by his unshakable belief that he operates on a higher plane than mere mortals. It is at once his gift and his curse.

All Hail to the Great Lotierzo

There is a reason Frank Lotierzo is TSS’ foremost expert in analyzing what will happen in an upcoming fight. The reason is simple: he’s right a lot more often than he’s wrong. When Frank predicted a points victory for Canelo Alvarez over Gennady Golovkin in their delayed and very contentious rematch, I should have reconsidered my own position, which was that GGG would win, probably on a stoppage (I picked him to get the job done in eight rounds, but I, like two of the official judges, had Canelo winning by a 115-113 margin).

Kudos to Frank, and mea culpas on my part to those TSS readers who erred in siding with me on this one. But the great thing about boxing is that there’s always another big fight coming up, and with it another chance to either look really smart or to embarrass yourself. Maybe we can agree to disagree somewhere down the line, Frank. Should be fun.

 Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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Beware Fearless Freddie

Ted Sares

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Beware Fearless Freddie

Some fighters launch and sustain long winning streaks; others engage long losing streaks. Some, like Mexican cult legend Quirino Garcia (40-28-4) and the late Saoul Mamby (45-34-6), did both.

And some, like Joey Olivera (21-13-1), Rogers Mtagwa (27-17-2), Manning Galloway (63-19-1) and Emanuel Augustus (38-34-6) mixed things up in spurts. Another, Darnell Boone (24-25-5), is still fighting and is very unpredictable as Andre Ward, Adonis Stevenson, and Sergey Kovalev discovered. When these men are on their game, their opponents can be on the dangerous side of things

For those who like to go back in time, Teddy “Red Top” Davis (71-75-6) provided early TV fans with many shockers as did Holly Mims (68-28-6). The names from back then go on and on.

A favorite was the very active, old schoolish “Fearless” Freddie Pendleton (47-26-6) who fought a remarkable 25 times in Atlantic City but also duked frequently in California and Nevada. And get this, the Philadelphian went in with 17 world champions!

The Record

With only a handful of amateur fights, Freddie lost four of his first six including his debut on November 5, 1981. But he was naturally talented, a combination boxer-puncher with a bazooka for a right hand.

In just his sixth pro fight, he was put in against the very skilled, undefeated and streaking Jerome Coffee and dropped a UD. He then reeled off four quick wins  before losing to Gerald Hayes (20-18-4) in October 1982 and to Bobby Johnson (16-0) in March of the following year. After beating one Jose Rodriguez, he stepped up against Anthony Fletcher (13-0 at the time) and lost a 10-rounder but not before decking “Two Guns” in the fifth round, signaling that he could be a dangerous opponent for anyone.

After a draw and three wins in a row, he lost to former world champion Hilmer Kenty by UD at Cobo Hall in Detroit—but many thought Freddie had been stiffed: “That was highway robbery. I beat him from pillar to post…Everybody expected me to get knocked out, and when I beat him up like that, I pissed off a lot of people in Detroit,” he told Anson Wainwright for a story in The Ring magazine.

Two months later in Detroit and again at Cobo Hall, “Fearless” took the fight away from the judges and shocked undefeated Tyrone Trice (12-0) by flooring him three times in the first round for a big TKO. People now knew who Pendleton was and what he was capable of. (As an aside and reflecting the significance of this win, multiple title challenger Trice subsequently won 16 straight.)

“You could see the confidence that he (Trice) was going to just walk in there and destroy me. I expected a tough fight, and then the first shot I caught him with he’s down. I knew I was the outsider, so I went after him and put him away. That was one of the biggest wins early in my career.”

Unlike Trice, however, Freddie lost four of his next seven though against very tough opposition including Adolfo Medal (21-1), Joe Manley (20-2), Frankie Randall (21-0), Jimmy Paul (23-1), and a very slick and underrated Darryl Martin (9-2) whom he beat for a regional title,

In March 1986, Pendleton (14-13 at the time) took on Roger Mayweather (23-3) in Las Vegas and amazingly knocked out Roger in the 6th round with a lightning fast right that put Roger to sleep in frightening fashion.

Freddie then drew with Frankie Randall in July 1086 and also with Livingstone Bramble (24-2-1) almost a year later. Then, amidst a 6-fight win steak, he ambushed and stopped Bramble in a rematch in July 1988. After being KOd by John Montes (38-4) in a slugfest, he extended Pernell Whitaker (20-1) for 12 rounds before losing a close UD with the WBC and IBF world lightweight title belts at stake.

Even though his record was a most deceptive 24-16-3, his reputation was growing fast and it only seemed a matter of time for the big show.

His time was NOW!

Fearless launched a 12-fight undefeated streak after his loss to Whitaker that included a draw with Tracy “Slam Bam” Spann and wins over the likes of Eric Podolak, Felix Dubray, and Spann in a rematch. This later win in January 1993 in Atlantic City earned Freddie the IBF world lightweight title. His record at the time was just 32-17-4.

“Fearless” successfully defended it against the dangerous Jorge Paez (46-6-4) in July 1993 but then lost three controversial fights in a row. The one against Rafael Ruelas (39-1) was especially questionable as Rafael hit the deck twice in the first round. This loss cost Freddie his title, and he would never regain a major belt.

Freddie launched still another win-streak in late 1994 by knocking out Steve Larrimore in the tenth round. He stopped Darryl Tyson (45-6-1) in 1995 and then he outslugged and stopped Tony Lopez (45-5-1) by decking him four times in Las Vegas in what can only be termed an under-the-radar-classic. Lopez (whose level of opposition was equally off the charts) had decked Freddie twice. These were big wins, especially the one against Lopez.

Pendleton would then win some and lose some including three unsuccessful title attempts against Felix Trinidad (28-0), Vince Phillips (37-3), and James Page (24-3).

After stopping one Horatio Garcia (12-3-1) for something called the IBA Americas Welterweight Title, he met Ricky Hatton (25-0) in Manchester, England, on October 27,2001 for the World Boxing Union Super Lightweight title. Freddie was knocked out early by the prime Hatton and that ended his remarkable career.

Freddie Pendleton, now 57 and a trainer, was inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2011.

If any fighter lived up to his nickname, it was “Fearless” Freddie Pendleton.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Heavyweight Hopeful Agit Kabayel Wins as Expected in Magdeburg

Arne K. Lang

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Heavyweight Hopeful Agit Kabayel Wins as Expected in Magdeburg

There was live boxing in Germany today (July 18) for the second straight Saturday. Last week’s event was at a drive-in movie theater on the outskirts of Dusseldorf. Today there were actually four shows scattered around Deutschland, the most high-profile an outdoor show at a public park in Magdeburg where the ring was pitched on a floating stage. Attendance was limited to one thousand and the show was reportedly a fast sellout.

The draw was undefeated heavyweight Agit Kabayel, a native German of Kurdish extraction who improved to 20-0 (13) with a lopsided decision over paunchy six-foot-six Evgenios Lazaridis, a Germany-based fighter from Athens, Greece. With the nickname Achilles, it figured that Lazaridis, 32, would be vulnerable to a punch in the heel, but the six-foot-three Kabayel (pictured on the left; Lazaridis on the right) couldn’t get down that low and was content to punch him in his upper parts.

Lazaridis had some good moments early in the fight, but his workrate slowed by round five and the better-conditioned Kabayel gradually put more distance between them before dominating the 10th. The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92.

This was Kabayel’s third fight in Magdeburg where he won the European heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Belgium’s Herve Hubeaux and successfully defended it with a unanimous decision over veteran Andriy Rudenko of the Ukraine. Kabayel vacated the title after his management signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank in September of last year. He entered the bout ranked #11 by both the WBA and IBF.

When Kabayel signed with Top Rank, it was noted that he had several good attributes but lacked one-punch knockout power. Following his effort today, he was dismissed as “European level” on social media. However, this was his first fight in 16 months so he likely had some ring rust and he had only five amateur fights before turning pro (he has a kickboxing background) and so, at age 27, he likely hasn’t reached his full potential.

In an undercard bout of note, 23-year-old heavyweight prospect Peter Kadiru improved to 8-0 (4) at the expense of 39-year-old late sub Eugen Buchmueller (16-7) who quit on his stool after three frames with an apparent shoulder injury. Kadiru is managed by Bernd Boente who was previously involved with the Klitschko brothers.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 99: Re-Opening in California

David A. Avila

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Now revving its promotional engine Golden Boy Promotions returns next week for a two-stint summer show in Southern California and the possibility of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez capping the end of the season.

“He is open to fight in September,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy. “Right now, we are going through details with him and whether he wants to fight or not.”

Canelo has become one of DAZN’s lead attractions and during these “stop and go” times of worldwide pandemic, the sport of professional boxing remains one of the few able to continue. But rigid restrictions are necessary and no guarantees any fight takes place.

“Right now, we are going through all the details and what’s important for us and for him first and foremost is the safety,” said Gomez. “God forbid he gets sick but things happen. Look at what happened to Top Rank; they have fights fall out. Accidents are going to happen.”

Top Rank Promotions has filled the void for the past two months with twice-weekly shows that have included fighters from the Golden Boy stable. Two weeks ago, one of the Golden Boy fighters Joshua Franco grabbed the WBA super fly title during one of the boxing cards in Las Vegas.

Now, Golden Boy opens its own shows at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio on Friday, July 24. Everything is in place to showcase their fighters in California, a state that usually leads the country in staging prizefighting cards. It might even lead the world, but not this year.

“For these two shows we have to do at Fantasy Springs, we have protocols we have to follow, just a little more preparation and planning. We tested everybody, all came back negative. We will have to test again the week of the fight. That’s the price of doing business nowadays during the pandemic,” said Gomez.

First up will be Vergil Ortiz Jr. the welterweight from the Dallas, Texas area who trains in nearby Riverside, California at Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. Both the training facility and casino are located in Riverside County which stretches all the way to the Arizona border at Blythe.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) will be facing Sam Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs) who fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a four-hour drive to Fantasy Springs. Anything can happen and anyone can be carrying the coronavirus that has contaminated whole cities. DAZN will stream the boxing card.

If this fight holds, Ortiz looks to propel himself into a world title fight in the loaded welterweight division. Premier Boxing Champions has champion Errol Spence Jr. and Top Rank has champion Terence Crawford. Either will suffice for Ortiz, he says. Now he is working to get into position for those kind of fights.

Ortiz has been sparring with WBC and WBA super lightweight world titlist Jose Carlos Ramirez and with four-division world champion Mikey Garcia. That’s plenty of experience and tutelage for the tall 22-year-old guitar-playing welterweight out of Dallas with 15 knockouts in 15 fights.

“I never stopped training camp,” Ortiz told Golden Boy’s Jessica Rosales. “I’m more than ready for this fight especially since its going to be against the same opponent.”

But is he ready for the big guns?

Recently on social media Ortiz has mentioned that challenges against Spence, Crawford or whoever heads the welterweight division are desired.

“I wanna fight the best at 147 like Danny Garcia and Errol Spence and people call me stupid,” said Ortiz on social media. “In due time these great fights will happen. I just wanna fight the best.”

Tuesday Fights

Former featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) moves up to the super featherweight division and meets Jayson Velez (29-6-1, 21 KOs) in a 10 round main event at the MGM Grand bubble in Las Vegas. ESPN will televise the fight on Tuesday, July 21.

Valdez was having trouble making the 126-pound weight limit and feels confident in making the move to 130 pounds. It’s one of the toughest divisions in prizefighting.

Puerto Rico’s Velez has always been a tough foe for anyone he meets in the prize ring. He has never been stopped and almost every loss was a close decision. It’s a solid match and a good test.

More Friday Fights

Lightweight contender Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs) tangles with San Antonio’s Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) in a lightweight bout at Fantasy Springs. It’s a classic match between experience and youth and guaranteed worth watching on DAZN.

Gesta, 32, has competed for the world title against Jorge Linares and Miguel Vazquez but was unable to walk off with the world lightweight championship. He did pick up the WBO NABO title in a riveting battle against Roberto Manzanarez in June 2018. His last fight ended in a technical draw due to a cut suffered by his foe Carlos Morales.

Tanajara, 23, has height and length to go along with his growing boxing skills learned under trainer Robert Garcia’s guidance. He has picked up tricks of the trade along the way and proved his toughness in wins over Juan Carlos Burgos and Ivan Delgado. Can he out-tough and out-smart Gesta?

Both fighters are class acts.

Seniesa Defends

East L.A.’s Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) defends the WBC Silver light flyweight title against Miranda Adkins (5-0, 5 KOs) in a 10-round bout on the Friday July 24, card at Fantasy Springs Casino.

Estrada wanted a world title bout but it is extremely difficult to find opposition under 112 pounds inside of the USA. Most of the fighters below 112 are located in Mexico or Japan. Few people are being allowed into the country during the pandemic.

Adkins is allegedly a former kickboxer and MMA fighter out of Kansas. Estrada has become a crowd favorite and eager to perform.

“We’re excited to have Seniesa back. She is starting to develop a really big following now,” said Eric Gomez. “She is a real good fighter and does things that most girls can’t do.”

Now that California has re-opened maybe a feeling of normalcy will follow.

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