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The Hauser Report: Jermell and Jermall Charlo on Fox

Thomas Hauser

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Charlo

On December 22, the Charlo twins – Jermell and Jermall – fought Tony Harrison and Matt Korobov at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Charlos are 28 years old and have been fighting professionally for ten years.

Jermell entered the ring with a 31-0 (15 KOs) record and was the reigning WBC 154-pound beltholder. He shone brightly in a first-round demolition of Erickson Lubin last year.

Jermall had compiled a 27-0, (21 KOs) record. He previously held the IBF 154-pound title and now campaigns as a middleweight. A 2016 decision over a faded Austin Trout was the most notable victory on his ring ledger.

Everything seems personal for the Charlos. It’s hard to imagine either brother outsourcing revenge to the other (as Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko did on several occasions) and finding satisfaction in payback that wasn’t beaten out with his own fists.

Jermell vs. Tony Harrison and Jermall vs. Matt Korobov were thought to be stay-busy Christmas presents for the Charlos. Neither brother gives an opponent much to work with. They’re good defensive fighters who strike swiftly when opportunity beckons. Jermell was a 10-to-1 betting favorite over Harrison while Jermall was listed at 20-to-1 over Korobov.

Several disquieting themes underlay the promotion. The first of these revolved around the fact that, on November 1, both Charlos “missed” tests that were to be administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) pursuant to the WBC Clean Boxing Program. Initially, the New York State Athletic Commission sought to distance itself from the issue, saying that the WBC-VADA tests were “separate from the New York State Athletic Commission’s Rules & Regulations.” But that was an untenable position.

Piecing together from multiple sources what happened next, the NYSAC then asked the Charlos for a more detailed explanation of why they’d missed their tests and failed to answer their cellphones on November 1. Previously, Jermall had tweeted that the brothers had been doing “promotional stuff.” But the commission didn’t get an adequate response. Instead, it was suggested from above that the commission back off on requiring the Charlos to document the reason why they’d missed the tests and, instead, administer new tests. In today’s world of microdosing, this passes for a bad joke. And the joke became even less funny when the NYSAC had one brother’s test administered by Quest Diagnostics and the other brother’s test administered by Lab Corp.

Quest Diagnostics and Lab Corp can tell the difference between blood and urine. But they don’t do state-of-the-art testing (such as carbon isotope ratio testing) for banned performance enhancing drugs.

On December 14, Greg Leon of Boxing Talk interviewed Tony Harrison and told him, “I’ve got to ask what you think about the Charlo’s, who have two different coaches, missing drug tests on the same day?”

Harrison gave a vague response.

“Allow me to ask the question in a different way,” Leon pressed. “If you were the champion, would you ever defend your title against a challenger who missed a drug test?”

“No,” Harrison answered. “Honestly, I would not. It leaves too much of a gray area. I wouldn’t do it, but it’s out of my hands. There’s literally nothing I can do. I just have to take it for how it is, man, the life of being a B-side fighter.”

Then, on December 15, it was revealed that Willie Monroe Jr, who’d been scheduled to fight Jermall Charlo on December 22, had tested positive after taking a banned supplement called Nugenix (a testosterone booster). Monroe was removed from the card and replaced by Matt Korobov, which sent the message that, in New York, fighters who might be dirty should simply miss tests and they’ll be allowed to fight.

Four years ago, the New York State Athletic Commission said that it wouldn’t license Korobov to box because of what it termed a congenital brain condition. Some other jurisdictions don’t consider this particular condition to be a potential danger and, subsequent to New York’s decision, granted Korobov a license to box. To date, the NYSAC has refused to explain when it changed its standard on this issue and the reason for the change.

Finally, when asked about Monroe at a December 19 media workout, Jermall and Jermell Charlo engaged in what one might consider an exercise in hypocrisy.

“Cheaters never win,” Jermall offered.

Jermell was more expansive, proclaiming, “They should suspend him from boxing. Monroe shouldn’t be allowed to come back. I’m glad they was able to catch this beforehand. It sucks that someone would cheat, and they know that they’re cheating. We need the sport to be cleaned up. Take all his bread. Take them away from the sport. They shouldn’t be allowed back. They should be banned for life and probably sentenced to a jail sentence or something. Yeah, send their ass to jail!”

Bottom line: Jermall Charlo vs. Matt Korobov at Barclays Center on December 22 matched a fighter who missed a PED test in November under questionable circumstances against a fighter who, four years ago, was unable to obtain a license to box in New York because of a congenital brain condition.

When fight night arrived, Jermell Charlo vs. Tony Harrison was a tedious tactical encounter. Harrison fought much of the bout like a man who would be happy to survive for twelve rounds, pick up his paycheck, and go home. The general consensus was that Jermell won nine of the twelve rounds. Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced that there was a unanimous decision and read the three judges’ scorecards: 116-112 (Robin Taylor), 115-113 (Ron McNair), and 115-113 (Julie Lederman). That left people wondering how two judges could each have given Harrison five rounds. The wonderment then turned to disbelief when Lennon uttered the words “And the new WBC super-welterweight champion of the world . . .”

Ironically, the Charlo-Harrison decision went against the house fighter. This suggests that poor judging rather than corruption was at its core.

In the nightcap, Jermall Charlo pounded out a unanimous decison victory over Matt Korobov by a 119-108, 116-112, 116-112 margin. Jermall won the fight, but 119-108 was off the mark.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the December 22 fight card was that it marked the inaugural telecast of boxing under a recently-negotiated contract between Premier Boxing Champions and Fox.

On September 5, 2018, PBC and Fox announced a four-year-deal that calls for the Fox broadcast network to air ten “marquee” fight cards per year with an additional twelve cards being shown annually on FS1 and Fox Deportes. The announcement held out the promise of championship-caliber boxing on a free platform. Thus, a lot of fight fans were disappointed on November 13 when Fox announced its fight schedule through March 16, 2019.

The two Charlo fights were joined on December 22 with a 20-to-1 match-up between Dominic Breazeale and Carlos Negron. January 26, 2019, will feature Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez with the odds currently favoring Thurman by 10-to-1. Virtually all of the PBC-Fox main events announced to date have what amounts to a designated winner and a designated loser.

Let’s draw an analogy to another sport. Fox televises Big Ten college football. The schedule for the first four months of its boxing series is equivalent to televising Michigan vs. Rutgers and Ohio State vs. Minnesota again and again and never getting to Penn State vs. Wisconsin or Michigan vs. Ohio State.

The core of the Fox commentating team handled itself well during the first telecast. There were too many voices. But Kenny Albert handled blow-by-blow chores smoothly. Joe Goossen and Ray Mancini have been in the trenches. And Lennox Lewis adds dignity and class to anything he touches.

The use of Larry Hazzard as Fox’s “rules expert and unofficial scorer” raises an interesting issue. Harold Lederman resigned as a ring judge in New York when he took a commentating position with HBO. So did Steve Weisfeld when Weisfeld worked as a rules expert for HBO. Hazzard is commissioner of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. And his son, Larry Hazzard Jr, was the judge who scored Charlo-Korobov 119-108 in favor of Jermall.

But for boxing fans, the more important issue is this:

For all the money that’s being put into the system now by Fox, ESPN, DAZN, and Showtime, we should be seeing better fights than we’re seeing. Each of the networks maintains that quality control is built into its respective output deal with its favored promoter or promoters.  But in today’s world, when “quality control” is measured in terms of “championship” belts and top-ten rankings, it means nothing.

Championship belts are dispensed today like chocolates from a vending machine. There’s a never-ending supply of bogus beltholders and undeserving “mandatory” challengers for elite fighters to fight.

Thus, 2018 is ending on a bittersweet note. There’s more boxing on television and streaming video now than ever before. But sadly, there are fewer great fights. And that’s unlikely to change in the near future. Every promoter, TV network, and sanctioning body of note has its own fiefdom (or “league,” if you will) that it’s anxious to protect to the overall detriment of the sport. If baseball were run like boxing, there wouldn’t have been a World Series this year. Instead, the Boston Red Sox would have been declared “American League World Champions,” the Los Angeles Dodgers would have been designated “National League World champions,” and baseball would be a niche sport.

Thomas Hauser’s new email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Protect Yourself at All Times – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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Jan. 29, 1994: A Stunning Upset Animates the Debut of Boxing at the MGM Grand

Arne K. Lang

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Twenty-six years have elapsed since the first boxing card at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The inaugural show took place on Jan. 29, 1994, the eve of Super Bowl XXVII.

A little background: The MGM Grand opened on Dec. 17, 1993. With its 5,005 rooms, it was the largest hotel in the world. The MGM Grand Garden arena, effectively the municipal auditorium of the self-styled “City of Entertainment,” was christened on New Years Eve with a concert by Barbara Streisand. Twenty-nine days later, the bill of fare was an 11-fight boxing card promoted by Don King.

Looking back, seven of the participants – boxers Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Hector Camacho, Thomas Hearns, and Christy Martin and referees Richard Steele and Joe Cortez – would go on to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Hearns, who was nearing the end of his career, having grown into a cruiserweight, was matched soft, as was Christy Martin who was making her Las Vegas debut and was then looked upon as a sideshow novelty act. Two other notables, heavyweight Razor Ruddock and welterweight Meldrick Taylor, were likewise deployed in stay-busy fights. The undercards of Don King’s major promotions typically took this tack – big names in little fights.

Topping the bill were three world title fights. WBC 154-pound title-holder Simon Brown opposed Troy Waters. Trinidad defended his IBF welterweight title against Camacho. And in the grand finale, the great Chavez, who held a junior welterweight title, was matched against Frankie Randall.

Simon Brown had a more difficult time than expected against Troy Waters, a teak-tough Australian, but prevailed on a majority decision. Trinidad, at age 21 the younger man by 10 years, chased Camacho all over the ring en route to winning a unanimous decision. And Chavez….

The MGM Grand Garden was scaled to hold 15,200, but there were a lot of empty seats; the announced attendance was 12,777. One would have expected a sellout as Las Vegas is chock-full of revelers on a Super Bowl weekend, but there was an extenuating circumstance.

Twelve days before the fight, at 4:30 am on Jan. 17, Southern California was struck by an earthquake. Centered in the San Fernando Valley, about 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the Northridge Earthquake damaged buildings as far as 85 miles away. It buckled portions of some heavily-traveled freeways, forcing their closure and repairs were hindered by a scattered series of aftershocks that lasted the better part of two weeks.

Visitors from Southern California are the backbone of the Las Vegas tourism industry. Most arrive by car. The earthquake had the effect of reducing hotel occupancy as many Southern Californians cancelled their reservations and that assuredly spilled over into the fight, hurting attendance. But those that were there witnessed a memorable main event.

Frankie Randall, nicknamed the Surgeon, hailed from Morristown, Tennessee. He had an excellent record (48-2-1, 39 KOs), but Julio Cesar Chavez, who owned the most eye-catching record in boxing (officially 89-0-1), was so highly regarded that he was listed as a 17/1 favorite in the MGM sports book.

Randall started strong, an indication that he would be a hard nut to crack. But the middle rounds belonged to Chavez with his patented body attack. In round seven, one of those body punches strayed too low and Richard Steele deducted a point.

In round 11, Steele deducted another point for the same infraction and, worse for Chavez, he was knocked down for the first time in his career. It was a straight right hand that did the damage, a clean punch, and although Chavez was up at the count of “three,” it was a 10-8 round for Randall.

During the early rounds, shouts of “May-hee-co, May-hee-co” reverberated through the arena. Late in the fight, when one could sense that an upset was brewing, shouts of “USA, USA” punctuated the din.

The 11th round proved decisive. When the scores were read, the Mexican judge favored Chavez 114-113, but he was overruled by the Puerto Rican judge (114-113) and the Las Vegas judge (116-111). If not for those two points deducted by referee Richard Steele – the same referee who had controversially stopped Chavez’s fight with Meldrick Taylor with one second remaining on the clock in the final round – Julio Cesar Chavez would have retained his title — and his undefeated record — on a split decision.

Chavez did not take losing very well. He bellyached that he was robbed, an opinion that found few sympathizers. A fast rematch was arranged which took place at the MGM Grand on Cinco de Mayo weekend. In this fight, an accidental clash of heads late in round eight left Chavez with a bad gash on his forehead and the fight was stopped. By rule, it went to the scorecards where Chavez emerged the winner by split decision, a very controversial denouement (and a story for another day). There would be a rubber match in Mexico City when both gladiators were in their 40’s, a dull 10-round affair scored in favor of Chavez.

By the way, on the day following the debut of boxing at the MGM Grand, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 at Atlanta. As Super Bowls go, this one didn’t attract all that much buzz. The same teams had met in the Super Bowl the previous year and Dallas had won by “35.”

By all indications, the forthcoming Super Bowl will be a doozy. Enjoy the game.

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Introducing Top Prospect Raeese Aleem, the Pride of Muskegon

Arne K. Lang

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At age 29, Raeese Aleem has yet to appear in a 10-round fight, but that will almost assuredly happen this year. The undefeated (15-0, 9 KOs) super bantamweight from Muskegon, Michigan, takes another step in that direction on Friday, Feb. 14, when he opposes San Antonio’s Adam Lopez (16-3-2) at Philadelphia in a bout that will air on “ShoBox,” the long-running SHOWTIME series that’s been a springboard for 81 fighters who went on to win world titles.

Aleem earned a black belt in karate before taking up boxing and becoming a four-time Michigan Golden Gloves champion. As an amateur, he and his coach Terry Markowski did a considerable amount of traveling between meets to find good sparring. Grand Rapids, an amateur boxing hotbed, was just down the road, but Detroit and Chicago were a good three hours away and on occasion they went on an even longer excursion into Ohio.

Aleem turned pro in 2011 and had his first 10 fights on the Midwest circuit, venturing as far north as Green Bay and as far south as Cincinnati. At the time, he worked in the produce department of Meijer’s, a regional rival of Walmart. His bosses, he notes, were generous in letting him juggle his work schedule around his boxing assignments.

For a boxer with designs on winning a world title, the Midwest circuit is like a bicycle with training wheels. Aleem had to shake free of it to see how far he could go. Besides, getting fights was getting tougher and tougher. There’s a 28-month gap in his pro timeline that includes all of 2013. He had several fights fall out during this frustrating quiescence.

If you’re an aspiring film actor, you go to Hollywood. If you’re an aspiring boxing champion, you go to Las Vegas. Not a week goes by without a young fellow turning up here to test his mettle in one of the many local gyms with the hope of attracting the eye of one of the major promotional firms.

“When I came to Las Vegas,” says Aleem who has a daughter back in Michigan, “I had no family here, no friends.” He was directed to Barry’s boxing gym, run by ex-boxer Pat Barry and his wife Dawn, retired Las Vegas police officers, and started training under their son-in-law Augie Sanchez. But Sanchez, the last man to defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr (accomplished when they were amateurs), had other priorities. He is an assistant coach with Team USA which obligates him to spend a good deal of his time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Things started looking up for Aleem when he joined the Prince Ranch stable under the management of Greg Hannley. At the Prince Ranch Gym, where the head trainer is Bones Adams, he has sparred with such notables as Nonito Donaire and former WBO 122-pound champion Jessie Magdaleno.

Aleem doesn’t miss the weather in Muskegon, a lakefront city where sub-freezing temperatures are the norm in the dead of winter and snow is forecast for all of next week. But he still has one foot in his hometown, as evident by his unbroken bond with Terry Markowski. In an era when some boxers appear to change trainers as often as they change their underwear, Aleem has remained loyal to Markowski who has been in his corner for all of his pro fights and will be there again on Feb. 14.

Markowski, who teaches boxing at the Muskegon Rec Center, is a protégé of Muskegon’s most esteemed boxer, the late Kenny Lane. The epitome of a crafty southpaw, Lane, a lightweight and junior welterweight, was a three-time world title challenger during a 100-fight career that began in 1953.

The relationship between Raeese Aleem and Terry Markowski dates back to 2003 when Aleem resided in the nearby village of Ravenna, where Aleem’s father, the patriarch of a large blended family, planted Raeese and his siblings to get them away from the temptations of Muskegon which has several blighted areas. “It was a culture shock for me when I started going to school in Ravenna,” says Aleem, looking back, as none of his schoolmates looked like him.

This will be Aleem’s fifth fight in Pennsylvania where he has made four of his last five starts. The connecting thread is Reading, Pennsylvania gym operator-turned-promoter Marshall Kauffman who has been credited with keeping boxing vibrant in the Keystone State.

This being Aleem’s national television debut, it’s important that he make a good showing. His Las Vegas trainer Bones Adams, a former world champion in Aleem’s weight division, expects nothing less. “I’m confident he will be a world champion someday,” says Adams.

Photo credit: Mario Serrano / Prince Ranch Boxing

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A Bouquet for Danny Garcia in This Week’s Edition of HITS and MISSES

Kelsey McCarson

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Two-division champion Danny Garcia had the spotlight all to himself over the weekend in a stay-busy fight against Ivan Redkach on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader that had the odd privilege these days of not being counterprogrammed by a Top Rank show on ESPN or any other kind of boxing card on DAZN.

So Garcia, 31, from Philadelphia, had the chance to remind people how excellent a fighter he is in full force, which would help him greatly in his effort to secure an unlikely bout against WBA champ Manny Pacquiao or remain first in line to face WBC and IBF champ Errol Spence whenever the Texan recovers from the injuries he sustained in a car accident in October.

But did Garcia pull it off? Here’s the latest edition of HITS and MISSES.

HIT – Danny Garcia’s Pristine and Precise Technique 

The best parts about Garcia were on full display against Redkach. That was made easier by Redkach’s lack of anything that might have given Garcia any real problems, but nonetheless Garcia was able to show the lovely footwork and balanced countering ability that made him so formidable at junior welterweight. There’s just something special about seeing Garcia fight. The economy of his movement inside a boxing ring is something that is just plain different than just about any other world-class fighter in the world today. In a fight that most people probably would have preferred he just skipped, and one that didn’t turn out to be any different than everyone expected, at least Garcia’s beautiful boxing was on display.

MISS – Showtime Sparring Sessions

In addition to Garcia-Redkach, Showtime rounded out its tripleheader with undefeated junior featherweight Stephen Fulton taking on former Muay Thai fighter Arnold Khegai and former unified junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd taking on career welterweight Francisco Santana. While Fulton’s fight against Khegai seemed like a legitimate prizefight, there was something about the other two bouts that screamed sparring sessions. That was especially the case for Hurd’s bout. Not only was Hurd in there with a middling welterweight, but he also used the rounds of the fight to work on vastly different boxing techniques than what made him so popular in the first place. Showtime might not have the pull they once had with the people over at the PBC offices, but they for sure need to get more involved in vetting matchups if they hope to remain afloat within the competitive boxing landscape of today.

HIT – Stephon Fulton’s Title Chances at 122 Pounds

Fulton is a very solid boxer who digs to the body and has a fast, clean jab. Khegai was the perfect kind of opponent for the 25-year-old. He was very game and never stopped trying to win. Additionally, his background in Muay Thai offered some different looks to Fulton that should help him on his way toward world title contention. In the end, Fulton outworked Khegai to hand the tough 27-year-old the first loss of his career. Now let’s hope Fulton is off to bigger and better things such as challenging for a world title. He’s ready right now.

MISS – Andy Ruiz’s Continued Soap Opera

The best thing former unified champion Andy Ruiz could have done after blowing the rematch against Anthony Joshua in December is getting right back to work in the gym. What better way to show trainer Manny Robles that he was taking responsibility for his actions than to get right back to work with the same team he had just let down so badly? Instead, Ruiz fired Robles and is considering other trainers. That would make more sense if there had been some sort of tactical error in the fight. But Ruiz already admitted he simply didn’t train for arguably the biggest fight of his life, and that’s not anyone’s fault but his own.

HIT – Former Middleweight Titleholder Andy Lee’s Second Act

It appears former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee found his second act in life as a trainer, which makes a ton of sense if you followed Lee’s career under the tutelage of the late Emanuel Steward. Lee, 39, left Ireland after his amateur days to live with Steward in Detroit and train at Kronk. The two had a very close personal relationship and that experience ultimately helped Lee win the world title in 2014 two years after Steward’s passing. Now, Lee is passing on what he knows in the same way Steward did with him to other fighters. He trains and manages Irish upstart Paddy Donovan, is guiding Jason Quigley back to contention and even helped orchestrate distant cousin Tyson Fury bringing on Javan “SugarHill” Steward for the heavyweight’s upcoming rematch against Deontay Wilder.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott

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