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Abel Sanchez is the Latest Top-Tier Trainer to Be Bruised by a Ruptured Bond

Bernard Fernandez

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Abel Sanchez

Before his death at the age of 75 on Feb. 3, 2016, Richie Giachetti, the longest-tenured of longtime heavyweight champion Larry Holmes’ chief seconds, proudly spoke of the many contributions he had made in helping make the “Easton Assassin” the great fighter that he was. For his part, Holmes agreed with Giachetti’s glowing self-assessment, but only to a point. Although Holmes described Giachetti as a “master motivator” who deserves to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (something that has yet to happen), he declined to give him nearly as much credit as Giachetti reserved for himself.

“I think a trainer is very important at the beginning of a fighter’s career,” Holmes once said of his own professional evolution, and that of any champion who lingers long in the game and has used those years of experience to hone his craft to a point where nearly everything is done instinctively. “Over time, you don’t really need a trainer. You’ve got to train yourself. You’ve got to motivate yourself. And I don’t think anybody can put that in you but you. I don’t have trainers who want hundreds of thousands of dollars to train me.”

The bond between fighter and trainer can be strong and seemingly as unbreakable as forged steel, and it can be as tenuous as a slender and fraying thread. Sometimes, at alternate junctures in a shared journey, it can be both, as again was made evident when long-reigning former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin chose to end what had been a highly successful and mutually  beneficial nine-year relationship with trainer Abel Sanchez. At first glance, the break seems as shocking as the announcement in April 1970 that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had had a falling out and no longer would be making music together as Beatles.

In a prepared statement that was publicly released on Tuesday, the 37-year-old Golovkin, who on March 12 met with the media to announce that he had signed a lucrative contract with DAZN to fight six times for the subscriber-based streaming service through the end of 2021, said his long run with Sanchez had concluded. Sanchez was at “GGG’s” side for that occasion, but it now appears that that was the final time they would ever appear together as teammates, as it were, on a common quest.

“I would like to announce that I have made a major decision for myself and for my career,” Golovkin’s statement began. “I want to build on what I have already achieved and continue to better myself. Therefore, I will not be training with Abel Sanchez. This was not an easy decision for me and it is not a reflection of Abel’s professional abilities. He is a great trainer, a loyal trainer, and a Hall of Fame trainer.

“I will be announcing my new trainer at a later date. But today I want to thank Abel for the lessons he taught me in boxing.”

If the kind words of appreciation attributed to Golovkin sounded scripted, it’s because they probably were. The cold termination of what had seemed to be a warm and almost familial association is reminiscent of one of those old TV game shows where a departing contestant is handed a “nice parting gift” that isn’t really all that nice.

Contacted by RingTV.com, Sanchez said it was his belief that he was jettisoned for the same reason that so many other trainers in similar situations have been handed their walking papers. As Larry Holmes once noted, once you’ve attained a certain level in your career, why pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone who has already taught you all you need to know?

“Money. That’s what the nature of it is, money,” Sanchez, hardly sounding conciliatory toward his now-former top pupil, said when asked for a reason that might have precipitated a breakup the trainer neither sought nor wanted. He said Golovkin’s new deal with DAZN would pay him just one-fifth of the cut of the Kazakhstan native’s purses he normally received.

“My dignity and pride wouldn’t allow me to do that after nine years of total commitment and taking him to where I’ve taken him. I don’t think I deserved that so I turned it down,” continued Sanchez, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2015 winner of the Eddie Futch Award as Trainer of the Year due largely to his work with Golovkin.

“Everything has been on a handshake basis, on a truthful basis. To be blindsided like this, it’s heartbreaking.”

Sanchez said that, over a period of about three weeks after the announcement of the deal with DAZN, he had an inkling of what eventually would go down. He said the decision to cut him loose was less GGG’s than of some members of the fighter’s inner circle.

There are, of course, legitimate and understandable reasons why fighters change trainers. And the reverse is also true, with trainers ditching fighters when it suits their purpose. Teddy Atlas, for one, has walked away from any number of fighters, including champions, because they could or would not adhere to his rigid dictums.  Money is a frequent cause for such professional divorces, as is the question of control.

Here are several examples of instances where well-known trainers were told by their equally or more famous fighters – and sometimes the other way around — that all good things at some point must come to an end:

Angelo Dundee ends long relationship with Sugar Ray Leonard

Leonard was coming off one of the most significant victories of his career, shocking middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler after a five-year layoff, when Dundee said he’d been vastly underpaid for that fight, for which he didn’t have a contract, and would only consent to be a part of the Sugar man’s challenge of WBC light heavyweight titlist Donny Lalonde (the vacant WBC super middleweight belt also was on the line) on Nov. 11, 1988, if he had a signed contract and thus would know beforehand what his financial compensation would be.

“Evidently I’m not necessary in the corner,” Dundee said of the dispute.  “They were offended because I had the audacity to have my lawyer call Mike Trainer’s office asking when I was going to be paid. I left it up to them for the Hagler fight. I depended on their generosity and I got one percent (of Leonard’s purse).”

Countered Leonard: “I’ll miss him. But what bothers me the most is the fact that I thought we had a special relationship. By the way things happened, I really don’t know if that relationship was valid at first. He’s like a family member to me. But when you hurt or destroy friendship, you lose it. It’s over.”

Although Dundee and Leonard never patched things up in a professional sense, they were able to let bygones be bygones. Leonard attended a 90th birthday celebration for Dundee on Aug. 30, 2011, five months before Angelo passed away.

“We talked about life. We talked about the fight game and reminisced about the special moments,” Leonard said of the restoration of their deep and abiding friendship. “He was a great guy to hang around with. You didn’t have to press a button to get him started, or to pause. Losing him puts into perspective how precious life is. I never thought we’d lose him, even at the age of 90. He had so much zest, so much enthusiasm about life, his next project, next fight or fighter and who he was helping to either remain or become a champion.”

Freddie Roach fired by Manny Pacquiao

The relationship of Roach and Pacquiao lasted much longer – almost twice as long, in fact, at 16 years – as that between Sanchez and Golovkin. But “Pac-Man” apparently took umbrage to a suggestion from Roach after he lost a close and disputed unanimous decision, and his WBO welterweight title, to Jeff Horn on July 2, 2017, in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia.  Roach’s transgression? Suggesting that Pacquiao’s roles as a legendary fighter and a senator in the Philippines each might be so demanding that he could not do justice to both, and thus would be well-advised to choose one or the other.

“Being a prize fighter is difficult, but being a world champion is so incredibly difficult,” Roach reasoned. “It takes just about all of your time and focus and energy, and I can’t imagine being able to do it and having another job.

“I didn’t know Manny was mad about that when I said it. I wish he had said something to me about it so we could have spoken to each other. But I have no complaints because my life is so much better in so many ways because of Manny Pacquiao.”

With Roach removed, Pacquiao’s good friend, Buboy Fernandez, was his trainer for his next bout, a seventh-round stoppage of Lucas Matthysse. But Roach would not be away for long, nor did many people familiar with their bond anticipate that that would be the case. “They’re like a married couple and it’s like they had a trial separation,” opined Justin Fortune, Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach. So Roach was back for Pacquiao’s most recent bout, a wide points nod over Adrien Broner, but in an advisory role with Fernandez remaining the trainer of record. That again will be the case should the proposed pairing of Pacquiao, the “regular” WBA welterweight champion, and WBA “super” welterweight ruler Keith Thurman be finalized.

Bouie Fisher, Bernard Hopkins clash over compensation

Despite once describing long-enduring middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins as “like my son,” veteran Philadelphia trainer Bouie Fisher sided with his actual sons, James and Andre, in a dispute with B-Hop over how much money Fisher should have received for services already rendered or to be rendered in the future.

“Bernard is a difficult person to deal with,” Fisher said in 2005, after being fired by Hopkins. “He wants all the glory, he wants all the credit, he wants all the money. It’s all about him, him, him.”

That is not how Hopkins saw it, and, as was the case with Angelo Dundee’s late reconciliation with Sugar Ray Leonard, the fighter was there when his former trainer and father figure was hospitalized and close to death shortly before he passed away, at 83, on June 30, 2011. When Fisher briefly opened his eyes, Hopkins stepped back and began shadowboxing, the older man’s eyes suggesting a glint of recognition.

“Even though me and Bouie fell out – me and his sons fell out even more – I had mad respect for what I’ve been taught (by Fisher),” Hopkins said. “I looked at Bouie Fisher like a father, and I still do. I learned a lot from him. I don’t let disagreements and stuff outside of boxing overshadow years, even decades, of the good.”

Floyd Mayweather Sr. fired by Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The elder Mayweather had trained his son from an early age, but all that changed when Floyd Sr. was found guilty of illegal drug trafficking in 1993 and sent to prison. Floyd Sr.’s brother, former super featherweight and super lightweight champion Roger Mayweather, took over as Floyd Jr.’s trainer and he guided the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist to the WBC super featherweight  championship, his  first world title, in 1998. But upon Floyd Sr.’s release he resumed the handling of his son’s career, and some of past friction between them soon became apparent.

At the beginning of 2000, Floyd Jr. fired his father as his manager. After one more fight together, Floyd Jr. also fired him as his trainer. Not only that, but the son banned his dad from his training facility, evicted him from a home Floyd Jr. owned and repossessed the car Floyd Sr. was driving. They didn’t speak again for nearly seven years although, in a sure sign that blood really is thicker than water, they again came together much deeper into Floyd Jr.’s record-setting career as the highest-grossing boxer ever.

Jack Mosley fired by son Shane Mosley

In more than a few instances, the trainer becomes a handy scapegoat, and a handy candidate to get pinned with the blame when a fighter’s career takes a downward turn. That can even happen when the trainer is the fighter’s father. “Sugar” Shane Mosley had lost three of his four most recent bouts when he decided he needed to go in a different direction, and in March 2004 he dismissed his father, Jack Mosley, as his trainer. Jack had trained Shane from the time he laced up his first pair of gloves at the age of eight.

In a prepared statement, Shane wrote that “I am going to miss working with my father. Together, we scaled many mountains and I would never have had the success I have had if he had not been there to guide and teach me every step of the way. He is, without question, one of the all-time great trainers. More importantly, he is has been a great father who I love very much.

“However, the time has come for my father and I to sever our professional relationship so that I can try some new avenues designed to give my fans the Sugar Shane Mosley they deserve.”

Tyson Fury cans his uncle, Peter Fury

Peter Fury, Tyson Fury’s uncle, was there for the crowning moment of his nephew’s boxing career, on Nov. 28, 2016, when the “Gypsy King” stunned the world by scoring a unanimous decision over IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“Happiest times of our lives,” the uncle said of the conquest of the long-reigning Klitschko.

But Peter’s influence didn’t extend so far that he could prevent Tyson from going on an epic binge of overeating, boozing and cocaine snorting that turned his moment of glory into an ongoing train wreck. Peter said he did what he could to halt the freefall, but Tyson had fallen under the spell of “unscrupulous mates” who got him drunk and high every night.

Maybe that’s why, when Tyson decided to get serious again about boxing, he rid himself of a hundred or so excess pounds, his taste for nose candy and alcoholic beverages, and, oh, yes, the uncle-trainer who had taken him to the top of the boxing mountain.  Peter was replaced as chief second by the much-younger Ben Davison, whom Tyson has referred to as the “Energizer bunny.”

“Peter is my uncle and I’ll do anything for him,” the cleaned-up Tyson Fury said of the change in his corner. “We worked together well, but sometimes a change is as good as anything else. We were maybe getting a bit stale in the gym, going through the same things over. We’re still talking, we haven’t fell out. I’m just branching out a little bit. For sure, I may work with Peter again. He has the experience, the knowledge. But at the moment, (Davison) is the man in charge.”

Mike Tyson fires Kevin Rooney

Tyson was coming off his signature victory, the first-round knockout of Michael Spinks on June 27, 1988, in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, and the trainer who had been with him since the launching of his pro career a little more than three years earlier was there to soak in more of the adulation both had become accustomed to. But little did Rooney know that his giddy ride with Tyson was about to end, ostensibly because Tyson’s promoter, Don King, was laying the groundwork to get rid of the trainer – the last link to Tyson’s past and his late mentor, Cus D’Amato – and replace him with the tag team of King sycophants Aaron Snowell and Jay Bright.

Rooney didn’t help his cause with his determination to fill a bigger cup with the flood of money being generated by Tyson, a not unreasonable expectation that one writer described as his being “financially ambitious.” So Rooney and his ambition were soon gone, any hope of his ever being replaced forever shattered when, on Oct. 1, 1996, a court ordered Tyson to pay his former trainer $4.4 million for breach of contract.

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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Avila Perspective, Chap. 61: Puerto Rico vs Mexico and a Weekend Look-Ahead

David A. Avila

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Southern California loads up with multiple fight cards this weekend.

It’s Puerto Rico versus Mexico when Luis Feliciano (12-0, 8 KOs) meets Genaro Gamez (9-0, 6 KOs) in the main event at Fantasy Springs Casino on Thursday Aug. 22. It can be seen on RingTV.com and Facebook Watch via the Golden Boy Fight Night page.

“I know all about the rivalry,” said Feliciano who trains in South El Monte, Calif. “I’ve heard about it all my life.”

As long as I can remember, whenever you put standout Boricuas against standout Mexicans, it’s like adding gasoline to a fire. Just stand back. This year alone two Puerto Ricans with world titles were tripped up by Mexican challengers.

But the opposite can happen just as easily.

The first time I actually saw this heated rivalry in action was back in 1981 when Puerto Rican great Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez met Mexico’s equally great Salvador Sanchez in a featherweight duel in Las Vegas.

Gomez, at the time, was considered by many as the best fighter pound for pound. He walked into the Caesars Palace indoor arena with 32 consecutive knockouts in 32 wins. After fighting to a draw in his pro debut in Panama, he made sure that his fights did not end in a decision by brutally knocking out everyone in front of him.

Sanchez was the featherweight champion defending against Gomez who was moving up a weight division after cleaning out the super bantamweights. The Mexican fighter from the small farming town of Tianguistenco trained in Mexico City with several of the top fighters of his country. One of his teammates, Carlos Zarate, was wiped out by Gomez two years earlier by getting hit after the bell for a knockdown. He never recovered and it left ill feelings with Mexican fighters, including Sanchez.

The stage was set when they met on August 21, 1981, exactly 38 years ago today. Gomez walked in with a salsa band and Sanchez with a band of mariachis. Both bands dueled with each other. I laughed when I saw that.

Sanchez walked in as the underdog and the two warriors erupted at the opening bell. It was Sanchez who floored Gomez in the first round and looked like he would finish the Boricua. But Gomez got up and would not quit. Still, it didn’t look like the Puerto Rican champion would make it through the second round. He did and more.

Both fighters exchanged punishing blows, daring the other to take each other’s big shots. In one round they exchanged left hooks as if challenging the other to see whose punches were more powerful. Slowly the fight developed in Sanchez’s favor, and in the eighth round the Mexican fighter connected with a combination and down went Gomez. Though Sanchez would win by knockout that day and go on to gain more victories against three more fighters, he would die in a car crash almost a year later in Mexico.

Gomez would go on to knock out several Mexican fighters, including Juan Meza, Juan Antonio Lopez, Roberto Rubaldino and then the coup de grace, the epic knockout win over Lupe Pintor. Gomez would go on to win featherweight and super featherweight world titles. But his fight with Sanchez further ignited the future battles between Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Here we are 38 years later and the wars between fighters from these two countries are still captivating.

Puerto Rico vs Mexico

Feliciano, 26, ironically trains in the heart of Mexican style boxing and is trained by Ben Lira. Though he was raised in Milwaukee, he has spent the past two years in Southern California getting familiar with the pressure style that Mexican fighters impose on their opponents. He’s sparred and fought numerous times against all styles in California, New York and Puerto Rico.

“I feel I’m more than ready for this fight,” said Feliciano recently at the South El Monte boxing gym. “Gamez is a good fighter and that’s what I want to prove myself against, good fighters.”

Gamez, 24, began his pro career as a super featherweight but grew into the lightweight and now super lightweight division. Despite the changes in weight divisions, the San Diego-based prizefighter remains undefeated. He had a strong amateur career and, despite the varying weight divisions, Gamez (pictured with his promoter Oscar De La Hoya) has shown good boxing skills and a sharp boxing IQ.

Both fighters are undefeated and eager to move to the next level. On paper it’s a dead even fight. But you never know when Puerto Ricans fight Mexicans. It can end suddenly.

In a co-main event, Las Vegas-based Blair Cobbs (11-0-1, 7 KOs) meets undefeated Steve Villalobos (11-0-1, 9 KOs) of Mount Vernon, Washington in a 10-round welterweight clash.

Cobbs, a southpaw, has endured a virtual gamut of opposition and the Las Vegas-based fighter, originally from Philadelphia, has emerged unscathed. He signed with Golden Boy and continues to show improvement aside from natural toughness.

Others on the fight card are Mexico’s Raul Curiel (6-0) fighting Alphonso Black in a super welterweight match and lightweights Kevin Ventura (10-0) battling Brian Gallegos (6-1) in a six-round bout. Several other fights are planned.

Carlos Zarate, the great Mexican bantamweight world champion, will be a special guest at the fight card. Zarate, who had 63 knockouts in 66 wins, will also be available for photos and autographs at 6 p.m.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

Costa Mesa

On Thursday, Aug. 22, a Roy Englebrecht Events boxing card at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif. features several young prospects including a middleweight showdown between Malcolm McAllister (9-3) and Rowdy Legend Montgomery (5-2-1) in the main event.

Others on the boxing card include Sergio Gonzalez, Jorge Soto, Israel Mercado, Mike Fowler and several others.

Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information call (949) 760-3131.

Corona

On Friday, Aug. 23, Thompson Boxing Promotions presents a summer outdoor event at Omega Products International. In the main event, bantamweight prospect Saul Sanchez (12-0) meets Edwin Rodriguez (10-5-1) in a 10-round fight.

Sanchez, 22, returns to the site of his last battle that took place this past May and ended in a knockout win for the Pacoima, Calif. prizefighter. He’s trained by Joel Diaz and Antonio Diaz and has shown improvement in each of his fights since February 2016.

“I think it’s great that I’m fighting in the same place as such great champions,” Sanchez said. “I put in a lot of work for this camp to make sure I win convincingly. I know Rodriguez is looking to pull the upset, but it’s not going to happen.”

Rodriguez is a tough Puerto Rican who has toppled a couple of undefeated fighters and has never been knocked out. He also briefly held a regional title and has never been an easy foe for anyone.

A welterweight showdown pits Kazakhstan’s Bobirzhan Mominov (10-0, 8 KOs) against Puerto Rico’s Javier Flores (14-2, 12 KOs) in an eight-round fight.

Mominov, 27, fights out of Florida and his last fight was in Costa Mesa this past March.

Flores, 33, is a southpaw slugger who has fought some tough competition. It’s an interesting welterweight matchup.

Others on the fight card that begins at 8 p.m. are heavyweight prospect Oscar Torrez, welterweight Luis Lopez and super featherweight Sebastian Salinas. For more information call (951) 737-7447.

Pico Rivera

Red Boxing International presents another lengthy boxing card at Pico Rivera Sports Arena on Saturday, Aug. 24.

In a lightweight headliner, Angel Flores (5-0, 4 KOs) risks his undefeated record against veteran Roberto Almazan (9-11, 4 KOs) in a six-round bout. Both Flores and Almazan previously fought at the outdoor arena located by the San Gabriel River.

A flyweight matchup pits Axel Aragon Vega (12-2-1, 7 KOs) against Giovanni Noriega (2-4-2) in a six-round fight. Vega, 19, fights out of Ensenada, Mexico and Noriega, 24, hails from Tijuana, Mexico.

Seven other pro bouts are scheduled on the fight card. Doors open at 5 p.m.

San Diego

Middleweights clash on a Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions fight card on Saturday Aug. 24, at Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, Calif.

Connor Coyle (10-0) and Rafael Ramon Ramirez (21-4-2) meet in a 10-round middleweight contest. UFC Fight Pass will stream the fight card.

Coyle is an Irishman who now trains in Florida. San Diego’s Ramirez is a fighter who actually fought at the Olympic Auditorium and left boxing for seven years before returning in 2013. He hasn’t lost since losing at the now retired boxing venue in 2004.

Six pro bouts are scheduled for Saturday.

Fights to watch

Thursday Facebook Watch 5 p.m. Luis Feliciano (12-0) vs Genaro Gamez (9-0).

Fri. Showtime, 10 p.m. Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0) vs Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1).

Sat. ESPN+ 9:30 a.m. PT Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1) vs Anthony Yarde (18-0).

Sat. DAZN 4 p.m. Juan Francisco Estrada (39-3) vs Dewayne Beamon (16-1-1).

Sat. UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. Connor Coyle (10-0) vs Rafael Ramon Ramirez (21-4-2).

Sat. Fox Sports1, 7 p.m. Brandon Figueroa (19-0) vs Javier Nicolas Chacon (29-4-1).

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An Eclectic Undercard Girds Juan Francisco Estrada’s Hermosillo Homecoming

Arne K. Lang

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Juan Francisco Estrada: His Hermosillo Homecoming and an Eclectic Undercard

Eddie Hearn, the head of the boxing division of Matchroom Sport, the company founded by his father, sure does get around. Since entering into a joint venture with DAZN in May of last year, Hearn has widened his geographic scope. This weekend, Matchroom is in Hermosillo, Mexico, partnering with Mexican heavyweight Zanfer Promotions on a deep DAZN card headlined by a local man, WBC 115-pound title-holder Juan Francisco Estrada.

Estrada (39-3, 26 KOs) is widely considered the top fighter in his weight class. He’s 13-1 since losing on points to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez who was then undefeated and climbing the list of the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters. The lone defeat was to Chocolatito’s conqueror, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (aka Wisaksil Wangek), and Estrada avenged that setback in his last outing, winning the WBC belt to become a title-holder in a second weight division.

The challenger, Dewayne Beamon (16-1-1, 11 KOs), hails from Goldsboro, North Carolina. He had 11 of his first 12 fights in the Tar Heel State, the other in neighboring Virginia, and fought his last six fights in Mexico. He’s 34 years old.

Beamon certainly hasn’t done enough to warrant a shot at a world title and hailing from North Carolina is a knock against him. North Carolina cranks out about as many good pro boxers as North Dakota cranks out good pro basketball players, which is to say hardly any at all. In common with several other states, North Carolina has become a feeder lot, a place where boxers are fed soft touches to pad their records and make them palatable as opponents for pugilists higher-up in the food chain. But having said that, we have a nagging suspicion that Beamon will make things interesting.

Beamon excelled in football and basketball at a small college in Virginia that has since dropped its football program, impressive for a five-foot-four fellow whose playing weight was somewhere south of 140 pounds. The son of a minister, he came to boxing late because his parents were opposed to it and as an amateur he was good enough to advance to the National Golden Gloves tournament. His curious nickname, “Stop Running,” dates to his amateur days and was a nod to the fact that none of his opponents were willing to stay in the pocket and trade punches with him.

The aforementioned Sor Rungvisai is also under contract to Matchroom/DAZN. A win by Estrada is expected to propel him into a rubber match with the Thai. Their previous fights were highly entertaining and a third meeting would be welcomed with raves by serious boxing fans.

– – – –

Notable British boxers Liam “Beefy” Smith and Jono Carroll and hot heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic are also on the card.

Liverpool’s Smith, one of four fighting brothers (the youngest, Callum Smith, just may be the best 168-pound fighter in the world) has lost only twice in 30 starts, both coming in world title fights, the first with Canelo Alvarez and the second with Jaime Munguia. He is matched against Mexican veteran Mario Alberto Lozano (33-9, 24 KOs) who went the distance in a 10-round fight with Jermell Charlo in 2014.

Jono Carroll (16-1-1, 3 KOs) made a lot of new fans in his U.S. debut in March when he battled defending IBF 130-pound champion Tevin Farmer hammer-and-tongs in Farmer’s hometown of Philadelphia.

This was a match between two southpaws, neither of whom was known as a hard puncher. On paper, it figured to be boring, but au contraire it was a feisty squabble in which the combatants threw a combined 2,050 punches according to BoxRec, 1,227 by Carroll. When the smoke cleared, Farmer won a close but unanimous decision, after which he reportedly took Carroll along for a post-fight meal, a Philly cheesesteak, natch.

The heavily bearded Irishman, who made his pro debut in Australia, is an interesting character. It figures that he will have a less strenuous fight in Hermosillo where he is matched against Mexican journeyman Eleazer Valenzuela (20-11-4, 16 KOs).

Filip Hrgovic (8-0, 6 KOs) needs to be busier. Although he has a far stronger amateur background than fellow young guns Daniel Dubois and Efe Ajagba, they have surpassed him in terms of name recognition.

The six-foot-six Croatian, who trains in Miami, needed only 60 seconds to dispatch Gregory Corbin in his U.S. debut in May. On Saturday, he opposes Mario Heredia (16-6-1, 13 KOs) who stands 5-foot-10 and carried 275 pounds in his last fight against Samuel Peter in Atlantic City. He earned this assignment by defeating Peter, winning an 8-round split decision.

“After his countryman Andy Ruiz’s win and his win in his last fight against Samuel Peter, (Heredia) surely has the wind in his sails,” Hrgovic told a reporter for a Croatian paper.

Hrgovic will take the wind out of his sails.

For some folks, the 10-round junior welterweight contest between Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6 KOs) and Darlys Perez (34-4-2, 22 KOs) is the most intriguing match on the card.

Columbia’s Perez, a former interim WBA lightweight title-holder, has lost two of his last three, late stoppages at the hands of Luke Campbell and Maxim Dadashev, but before that he out-fought future super lightweight titlist Maurice Hooker in a bout that was confoundingly scored a draw. Perez is definitely a step up in class for the fast-rising Giyasov, a silver medalist for Uzbekistan at the 2016 Olympics.

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Hughie Fury vs. Alexander Povetkin: At the Crossroads

Ted Sares

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Hughie Fury vs Alexander Povetkin will be on the undercard of the Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell world lightweight title fight on August 31 at the O2 in London.

Fury is 23-2 while the Russian is 34-2 but these records somewhat hide the fact that the loser will need to reevaluate things while the winner can move on to bigger things. In short, a win can catapult Hughie (Tyson Fury’s cousin) to the world stage, but a loss in this, his Matchroom debut, can be disastrous, especially coming after his ugly win against a bloated Samuel Peter in a foul-fest this past July.

Said promoter Eddie Hearn, “Hughie will have to come through fire in this fight to win but, if he does, the rewards are huge.”

That’s a big “if.”

Povetkin turns 40 in a few weeks. Father time takes no prisoners and Povetkin is hardly the Povetkin of old. He was dismantled by Anthony Joshua and was even in trouble against big David Price. But “Sasha” has fought much stiffer opposition and is heavy-handed with many notable wins on his resume.

Fury himself said, “You can’t underestimate Povetkin. One [wrong] move and you get your head taken off.”

So, the two will be at the crossroads. And Robert Johnson said it best in these lines from his iconic “Cross Road Blues”:

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “have mercy, now save poor Bob, if you please”

Ooh, standin’ at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride
Ooh-ee, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe, everybody pass me by

Many pundits (but not this one) think Fury, being the younger and fresher man, will prevail in the fight as youth trumps experience, but others, including the oddsmakers that made Povetkin the favorite, assert that the more experienced Russian is stronger and more dangerous and will not stop moving forward.

Fury adds, “My mind is good at the moment….I’ve had a bit of bad luck with boxing, health issues and all that….It has been frustrating at times but that’s all behind me now and we’ve got a good team behind me. We’re ready now….Nobody has got the experience I have at my age. I’ve fought all over the world and I haven’t been protected. I’ve had experience that nobody else has ever had, especially at my age.”

However, his last effort against former titleholder but now woefully dreadful Samuel Peter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was, well, dreadful. BLH’s Scott Christ nailed it: “The cousin of Tyson Fury is not known as one of the world’s more exciting heavyweights, to put it kindly, but he’s a good technician who understands how to use his physical advantages, and he kept range easily against Peter, who was never much of a mover and at this point has cinder blocks for feet.”

One notable thing the combatants have done is signed on to be tested by VADA, both before and after their fight. “It is impossible to say in advance how many doping samples will be collected in total,” Povetkin’s promoter Vadim Kornilov told TASS. Given Povetkin’s record on this account, the VADA tests are a welcomed addition.

Ted Sares is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Master Class.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel  

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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