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Is the ‘Mayweather Factor’ Stalling the Garcia-Lomachenko Fight?

Frank Lotierzo

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Since WBC/IBF lightweight champ Mikey Garcia soundly defeated IBF titlist Robert Easter, many have been speculating as to why he’s been very guarded talking about WBA title holder Vasyl Lomachenko, his only rival holding a title at 135. A fight between Mikey and Lomachenko for the undisputed lightweight title (assuming Lomachenko beats WBO title holder Jose Pedraza in December) would be the most anticipated lightweight title bout in ages. More than 50 years have elapsed since the last true super fight at lightweight.

As it was stated in this space on July 29th, it looks like, at least from afar, that Garcia has some trepidation pertaining to a showdown with Lomachenko. This is night and day different from saying Garcia actually fears Lomachenko; no, I don’t believe that. And if they were to meet I see it as a 50-50 fight with both presenting the other more questions stylistically than any other opponent they’ve ever faced, with a slight lean to Lomachenko presenting Mikey with a little bigger headache than the reverse.

In Garcia’s defense, for financial and other reasons, there is a strong case for him wanting to drag his feet regarding Lomachenko for as long as he can. And it could be that when he dropped Errol Spence’s name it was only a ruse.

Consider this: Mikey being 30 years old is/was no doubt most influenced by Floyd Mayweather, the most successful fighter financially in boxing history. Garcia learned by watching Mayweather that it doesn’t matter what’s said in the media as long as your name is continually in front of the fans. He watched Mayweather be accused of fearing Manny Pacquiao while being labeled a cherry picker. Floyd didn’t care, he continued to face fighters whose best days had come and gone. Mikey witnessed Floyd tease fans for over five years about fighting Pacquiao and then when the money was near its high water mark and Manny had been knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez after enduring some strenuous fights, Floyd finally gave it the go-ahead and he and Manny both were paid more for one fight than Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard made during their entire careers.

Understanding the above, it’s easy to glean why Garcia doesn’t care if fans and some in the boxing media accuse him of fearing Lomachenko. What he knows for sure is that those same people will be there in droves when he finally does face him. He knows — in much the same way that Mayweather viewed Pacquiao — that this is the fight that fight fans want to see, so unless one gets knocked off before they meet, the fight will always be there. Floyd knew Manny would never decline it after he had strung him along for five-plus years.

Mikey Garcia doesn’t just have one of the highest boxing IQ’s of any active fighter in the ring, he’s no one’s fool out of it pertaining to the business side of boxing and that’s probably why, like Floyd, he left Bob Arum. He’s fully cognizant that he’s never fought on PPV and that is where the big money is. He also observes how some fighters have the media and the establishment behind them. Lomachenko is exhibit A.

Here’s a fighter in Lomachenko who has more experience than his 11-1 (9) record indicates and probably boxed more rounds getting ready for his 397 amateur bouts than Garcia has in his 39 pro bouts. And the funny thing is Lomachenko fought six fights in the “World Series of Boxing.” These fights, amateur in name only, were scheduled for five rounds, one more than the four rounders that entry level pros fight. But saying Lomachenko has won three titles in different divisions in just 12 bouts makes him a bigger monster and star than adding the six bouts before his debut, which would make him 17-1.

Stylistically Garcia is a fundamental boxer. He isn’t flashy, just super-efficient. Purists marvel at him but how many of them are around today? Lomachenko, who looks unlike other fighters past or present, is much better eye candy. Actually he’s sort of a hybrid of Hector Camacho and Pernell Whitaker.  And he has the ring presence of a smaller Muhammad Ali. In other words, Lomachenko looks as if he’s in control when nothing is transpiring during a round, and whenever he does do something, it grabs your attention and influences the judges and many fans too.

Another issue Garcia might have is that he probably knows going in that he won’t get any of the borderline rounds since Lomechenko is perceived as the bigger star. More than likely, Garcia feels that he has to stop him to come out with the win and that certainly isn’t something he can bank on.

Lomachenko’s style is rooted more in athleticism and speed than boxing brilliance. Vasyl breaks a lot of rules and as he ages, his effectiveness — like Ali and Roy Jones — will decline. Conversely, Garcia’s supreme fundamentals and technique travel better with age. And with both being 30 years old, Mikey is the one who just may have more years ahead of him fighting near his peak. So the longer he keeps the fight from happening, the more it works in his favor.

The reasons for Garcia acting as if Lomachenko doesn’t exist don’t in any way indicate fear on his part. Mikey surely knows that Lomachenko is a very tough man for him to fight stylistically, but it’s not like he cannot be decoded and if there was a fighter at or near Vasyl’s weight to crack his code, it’s Garcia. But it’s a tough fight, and knowing that all the close calls will go to Lomachenko, Mikey needs to be paid like he’s never been paid before.

It’s plausible Mikey knows the fight with Lomachenko isn’t going to disappear. So it makes sense for him to “Mayweather” it, allowing it to be said he’s fearful of Vasyl as he strings it along. And when the money is right and he feels he’s leveled everything outside the ring as much as he can – then he’ll okay it.

One thing is for sure, Garcia is the more accomplished pro and at age 30 he’s covered more ground than Lomachenko has. Mikey has more leverage fighting Lomachenko than Deontay Wilder does fighting Anthony Joshua. Unlike Wilder, Garcia shouldn’t agree to anything less than a 50-50 purse split, whereas Wilder should kiss the ground if he can get 40 percent when he fights Joshua.

No, Mikey Garcia doesn’t lose sleep over Vasyl Lomachenko – he just believes he’s probably not going to get a level playing field going in without playing games, mixed in with a little subterfuge and actually fighting at the bargaining table. My feeling is when Garcia is confident he’s worked out the best deal he can and maybe Loma has eroded slightly – we’ll see maybe the biggest lightweight championship fight ever with all the meaningful hardware on the line.

Super fights in the lightweight division have been few and far between. Garcia-Lomachenko just could be the most anticipated lightweight title fight ever and if it never comes to fruition I sincerely doubt Mikey Garcia will be the reason. Those who have followed boxing for a long time know it’s just not a matter of two guys wanting to face each other. Gamesmanship and leverage have always been a part of boxing. Floyd Mayweather took it to a new level and it’s hard not to believe his influence isn’t in play here regarding Garcia’s approach to fighting Lomachenko.

It’s really shortsighted to think Mikey fears Vasyl, but it’s not bad business to let fight fans believe it.

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

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