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Who Will Win the Canelo-Jacobs Fight? 15 TSS Writers Give Their Picks 

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Canelo vs Jacobs

Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and middleweight title-holder Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs collide on Saturday, May 4, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. As is our custom whenever there is a mega-fight, we reached out to our community of writers to get their predictions. Our reach extended to our colleagues at our Spanish-language sister sites.

Predictably, there was a strong lean to Alvarez, the betting favorite, but Jacobs had his supporters and they made some provocative points.

Comic book cover artist ROB AYALA, whose specialty is combat sports, provided the graphic. Check out more of Rob Ayala’s illustrations at his web site fight posium.

The correspondents are listed alphabetically.

Gilda Aburto

A majority of people in the boxing business think Canelo will win, but Jacobs won’t be a piece of candy. Jacobs has a good defense, throws powerful combinations, he can fight in and out, and has proved he can go the distance. In order to win, Jacobs will have to pressure Canelo from the opening bell. Some say he doesn’t have a chance if the fight goes to the scorecards with the fight being held in Las Vegas, but JACOBS has everything that it takes to get a sound victory on Saturday.

J.J. Alvarez

Jacobs is taller, faster, stronger and has superior movement inside the ring. But his skills may be receding. In his last fight against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the man who defeated cancer lacked potency behind his strikes and the ability to maintain the volume of his punches. The Mexican is strong and resilient, possessing a left hook which is his most lethal weapon. This will be the biggest concern for Jacobs defensively from start to finish. And due to his superior stature, his torso will be easily targeted by his opponent’s most devastating weapon. CANELO by decision.

Matt Andrzejewski

The signs all point to a JACOBS  upset. He possesses the type of movement that can give all sorts of issues to Canelo. In addition, I think Jacobs will land his counter right with consistency when Canelo attempts to throw to the body. It’s a bad style matchup for Canelo. Jacobs by clear cut unanimous decision.

Rick Assad

Because of his height and reach advantage and his punching power, Jacobs, the Brooklyn, New York native, could cause Alvarez problems throughout. But CANELO will work the body and counterpunch effectively and should prevail in the late rounds, say the 10th or 11th.

Bernard Fernandez

If professional boxing were like Olympic boxing, Daniel Jacobs would be, barring the standard and reprehensible corruption often seen at those quadrennial world events, a good bet to come away with no better than a bronze medal. But unless Gennady Golovkin has aged faster than most people think, and Canelo Alvarez’s skill set is not as outsized as his popularity, Jacobs will continue to be slotted in as the No. 3 guy at 160 pounds. It’s competitive, but call it CANELO by unanimous decision.

Jeffrey Freeman

JACOBS SD 12:  By now, most knowledgeable observers can see how good Canelo is and what it will take to beat him. Danny Jacobs has the right stuff—superior size, an edge in punching power, and arguably better boxing skills. If Jacobs can finally put it all together and stay off the canvas for twelve rounds against the best counterpuncher in boxing, he will be rewarded with a split decision victory, all the title belts, and an even bigger bucks rematch with the biggest money fighter in the game. Sure, Canelo (and Oscar) will insist he won and jaded fans will give him no sympathy regardless, but it will be Alvarez laughing all the way to the bank as he and Jacobs lay the groundwork for a middleweight championship trilogy on DAZN.

Miguel Iturrate

I think Daniel Jacobs has a chance. He is a skilled boxer and if he has a good horse under him and can keep moving he could convince the judges he did more. It would be interesting to see a version of Jacobs like we did against Peter Quillin, where he came out ruthless and mean. We will see, it is Vegas, and it is Cinco de Mayo, which is “Canelo” day basically. But JACOBS is longer, taller and has a high boxing IQ. Canelo shouldn’t be too comfortable leaving it to the judges.

Lazaro Malvarez

We are in the presence of an enticing fight, but not necessarily a good one. Jacobs, with a large purse secured for retirement, may not be very aggressive, giving Canelo opportunities to gain confidence and land significant strikes which will be responded to by roaring support from the crowd. The red headed boxer from Guadalajara is currently at the peak of his career. He’s the king of the party and business must go on. Only a miracle could have the “Miracle Man” leaving victorious on May 4th. CANELO by decision.

Kelsey McCarson

Despite his tremendous accomplishments, Alvarez is still just 28 years old. The scariest thing about that is that he always seems to be improving as a prizefighter, at least since he lost to Floyd Mayweather by decision in 2013. I don’t expect that to change on Saturday, so I’m picking CANELO by decision. Jacobs is a very good middleweight. He has a tremendous back story and will use his excellent skills to give Alvarez a tough test. But Alvarez is one of the best counterpunchers in boxing, and once he starts letting his hands go, Jacobs will have little to rely on but his jab. Alvarez will land the cleaner, harder punches and the judges will have a pretty easy fight to score.

Matt McGrain

I’d like to see Jacobs hold the line a little bit more than he did against Golovkin.  Alvarez is a dangerous puncher. He’s nothing like as thudding as GGG but the Mexican is probably every bit as good at finding his man when he moves.  If Jacobs turns consistently to squabbling on the backfoot he’ll get out-picked by consistent hitting.  If he can hold the line I make this a 50.50 fight.  However, I expect CANELO to start moving Jacobs later in the fight with the cards in the balance. The American will drop a narrow but just decision.

Sean Nam

Daniel Jacobs may have all the physical attributes to beat Saul Alvarez. He is bigger and just as quick, if not quicker. He also knows how to switch stances intelligently and carries above-average punching power. But his last two fights, close decisions over Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Maciej Sulecki, revealed just where Jacobs is: a very good middleweight, but not great. Against, Alvarez, he will need to be busy every round. That the fight is taking place in Alvarez’s adopted hometown of Las Vegas pretty much ensures that Jacobs will need a knockout to win — but that is far more unlikely than the fight going to the cards. CANELO by split decision.

Ted Sares

Jacobs will come in looking much bigger than CANELO as he rehydrates like David Lemieux, but that won’t save him from Canelo’s pressure and especially Canelo’s body work. I look for a late stoppage in the redhead’s favor. Danny’s corner may have to save him from himself.

Phil Woolever

Jacobs seems prepared to perform much better than predicted by the majority of oddsmakers who currently list him at around a 3 or 4 to 1 underdog, but much of that depends on how Alvarez, who looks like he’s getting even better, shows up on fight night. As the saying goes regarding motivational money, CANELO has millions of reasons to be at his best for this contest and I think he’ll respond looking stronger than ever.

The Last Words

For our final thoughts we turn to TSS West Coast Bureau Chief David Avila and to Dino da Vinci, a man who needs no introduction.

AVILA: Unless someone scores a knockdown I see it as a very even fight. I am picking a draw.

da VINCI: Canelo begins his ascent to claim Floyd’s P-4-P King status.

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Maxim Dadashev Dead at Age 28

Arne K. Lang

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Maxim-Mad-Max-Dadashev

Junior welterweight boxer Maxim Dadashev passed away this morning (Tuesday, July 23) at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Prince George County, Maryland.  The news was confirmed by Dadashev’s trainer Buddy McGirt and his strength and conditioning coach Donatas Janusevicious.

Dadashev’s death was a result of injuries suffered in a fight four days earlier at the MGM casino-resort in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Dadashev’s match with Subriel Matias, scheduled for 12 rounds, was billed as a title eliminator with the victor first in line to face the winner of the upcoming match between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis. It was the chief undercard bout on a show headlined by fast rising lightweight contender Teofimo Lopez.

Dadashev, who entered the contest undefeated (13-0) was facing another undefeated fighter in Puerto Rico’s Matias, also 13-0 but against suspect opposition. As the fight wore on, it became increasingly more one-sided with Dadashev absorbing heavy punches to the body and head. After the 11th round, Dadashev was pulled from the fight by McGirt.

Dadashev protested McGirt’s decision. He wanted to continue the fight although it was evident that he had no chance of winning without a knockout. But he had trouble walking as he repaired to his dressing room and began vomiting violently once there. Placed on a stretcher, he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance where he underwent a two-hour operation for a subdural hematoma. A portion of his skull was reportedly removed in an effort to reduce the swelling.

Federal privacy laws prevented the hospital from releasing any details without the consent of his next of kin. As Dadashev lay in the hospital in an induced coma, his wife flew to be by his side from their home in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Reportedly 281-20 as an amateur, Dadashev had fought exclusively in the United States since turning pro. Managed by Egis Klimas and promoted by Top Rank, he trained in Oxnard, California, along with stablemates Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

As expected, Buddy McGirt, who entered the International Hall of Fame this year, was devastated by the news. “He did everything right in training,” said McGirt, “no problems, no nothing….great, great guy. He was a trainer’s dream. If I had two more guys like him, I would need nobody else because he was truly dedicated to the sport.”

We here at TSS send our condolences to Dadashev’s family and loved ones.

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Good Night, Sweet Pea

Springs Toledo

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Good-Night-Sweet-Pea

Good Night, Sweet Pea

Bishop James E. Jones Jr.’s booming baritone was rising up through the rafters at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. He was preaching about hands—your neighbor’s hands, the hand in yours now, the Father’s hands into which Jesus commended his spirit from the cross. “Sweet Pea’s HANDS,” he shouted, “took him to places HIS EYES NEVER IMAGINED!”

Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, the greatest pure boxer since Willie Pep, lay in repose at the foot of the stage, his hands crossed at his belt. His coffin was black. An Olympic flag was draped over it and boxing gloves carefully arranged on top. The few thousand who attended his Saturday morning memorial service came to mourn and to celebrate a perfect fighter, an imperfect man, and a community that has long-since learned to look up no matter what.

Mark Breland was there. He came down from New York to honor the captain of an Olympic boxing team that won nine gold medals in 1984. Long gone is the fresh-faced amateur smiling under a laurel wreath, but Breland remains reed thin. He stood at the podium in a gray suit with a powder blue shirt and was too overwhelmed with grief to say much. “We knew him differently,” he said.

Kathy Duva, now a promoter, then his publicist, was there too. “Pound-for-pound,” she said. “That’s how he signed his autographs.” And that’s exactly what he was: the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world from September 1993 through March 1996, despite performances that struck the unsophisticated as pusillanimous. “He simply chose not to engage in outright brutality,” Duva said. “It was so much more fun to tease and toy with his opponents.” Whitaker teased and toyed with everyone, including a young Floyd Mayweather Jr. who, she said, “could not lay a glove on him” even as he sparred with those hands of his behind his back in 1996. Whitaker brought laughter into the midst of danger because of his cosmic level of skill, and because it kept boredom at bay. Merely making world-class fighters miss wasn’t enough; so he’d dart behind them and as they looked around to see where he went, he’d tap them on the rear end. When Roger Mayweather was known as “Black Mamba” and feared for his right hand, Whitaker—fighting here at the Norfolk Scope—yanked his trunks down in the middle of the sixth round.

“An imp with gold teeth,” said one wit during his glory days, “floating around that blue canvas like a cloud,” added Duva.

No one could outbox him. It isn’t easy to settle firmly on a lightweight in history who could. But the product of Young Park, a housing project just east of the Scope, wasn’t raised to shrink from violence. As a child, his father wouldn’t tolerate tears when he was hurt by neighborhood bullies. He’d turn him around. “Go back,” he’d say. “Give them everything you got.” When he was eight, he and nine-year-old Mario Cuffee got into a street fight and Clyde Taylor, a mailman who moonlighted as the neighborhood’s recreation director, hustled over and grabbed both by the scruff of the neck. “Do your fighting in the gym,” he said, and with permission from the boys’ parents, restaged the fight in the ring, with boxing gloves that looked like balloons. Whitaker lost that one, but found a mentor who began the process of transforming an undersized project kid into a giant of boxing and boxing history. Whitaker credited Cuffee almost as much. “Come to think of it,” Cuffee told me Monday, “I beat him that first fight, though I gotta come clean, he got me back a few years later.” When Whitaker fought Greg Haugen at the Coliseum in 1989, Cuffee bought a ticket and made his way across the Hampton Roads Beltway through a blizzard to see Haugen lose every round. At the post-fight press conference, Cuffee was standing in the back, “in cognito.” Whitaker spotted him and told the story of their fateful childhood fight. “Thanks Mario,” he said. Haugen, his face scuffed and swollen, looked up. “Yeah,” he said. “Thanks Mario.”

In Detroit, while still an amateur, he was invited to spar with Hector Camacho just as Floyd Mayweather was later invited to spar with him. Camacho couldn’t land a glove on him either. “He got mad and started fighting dirty,” Whitaker told the Newport News. “He grabbed me behind the head, pulled it down, and hit me with an uppercut. Then I grabbed him and threw him to the canvas and we started wrestling and fell out of the ring.” Whitaker offered to take it outside. Camacho talked a lot but never went near him again.

In 1984, after the Duvas had convinced Whitaker to throw in with Main Events, they introduced him to trainer George Benton. Benton, who understood the science of belligerent invisibility like no one else, took what Taylor had begun and finished it. He taught him to stop running around the ring, to stand on a dime; to see the difference between wasting energy and ducking and slipping just enough to let punches graze your hair or flick your ear. Benton made sure he became, in his words, “harder to hit than the numbers,” and a master at punching around, between, over, and under what’s coming in. “When I talk he stands and listens like a private would a general,” he said in 1986. “Sweet Pea’s going to be one of the best fighters ever.”

Seven years later, Whitaker swaggered into the ring against Julio Cesar Chavez, then 87-0 and rated by The Ring as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Whitaker fought him on a dime—twisting, rolling, fast-stepping outside his lead foot, and punching around, between, over, and under whatever came in. He had a trick that kept working. He’d turn his right shoulder in to narrow himself and hide his left until the moment it clubbed Chavez on the side of the head. You could hear it land—“whump!”—and it landed all night. In the ninth round, he was outfighting Chavez on the inside—“whump, whump!”—which no one had ever done. Chavez was befuddled and —“whump!”—puffing up. And then, at the end, 59,000 witnessed one of boxing history’s most egregious heists. Two of the three judges called the fight a draw. That’s what we were told anyway. Josè Sulaimàn, WBC president, countryman of Chavez, and favorite stooge of Don King, was seen collecting the scorecards after every round that night.

It is a grandiose irony. Whitaker put an exclamation point on Benton’s prediction in two fights he didn’t win. The second one was nearly as bad as the first.

At 33, he faced a 24-year-old Oscar De La Hoya, then 23-0 and rated by The Ring as the second best pound-for-pound fighter behind Roy Jones Jr. Whitaker made him look like a golem and won that fight too despite an official loss that stinks to this day. “The world saw it,” he said afterward, and smiled anyway, gold teeth gleaming. “The people saw it.”

Bishop Jones saw it. He remembered him standing triumphantly on the ropes before the decision against him was announced. He remembered it well.

“What I loved most about Sweet Pea Whitaker,” he told the mourners at the Norfolk Scope,

“.…was when he KNEW he had won the fight he DIDN’T WAIT on the referee to hold up his hands. He didn’t WAIT on the THE JUDGES to tell him whether or not he had won the fight, but if you look on the back of your programs, there’s a SIGNATURE MOVE that the champ would always do when he knew he had WON THE FIGHT. Family! HE WOULD THROW UP BOTH HIS HANDS!”

With that, Jones stepped back from the podium and thrust both hands in the air. When the people saw that, they roared as one. But Jones was just getting started, the crescendo wasn’t reached, not yet. He stopped them short. “EXODUS CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, VERSE ELEVEN! Whenever Moses held up…” and stepping back again, struck the same pose, “…HIS HANDS the people always had the victory…if the champ could hold up his hands in the middle of his fight, then SURELY you and I ought to HOLD UP OUR HANDS!”

Mario Cuffee jumped to his feet and thrust both hands in the air. Thousands, dressed in their best on the hottest day yet this year, rose as one and thrust both hands in the air. Whitaker’s signature move, multiplied. It was a transcendent moment; the spirit of a man—a father, a brother, a friend, a neighbor—merging with the spirit of the city he loved.

Bishop Jones lowered his gaze to the black coffin at the center of it all. “SWEET PEA!” he thundered as if to wake him up, “That one is for you! You got the victory! CHAMP!”

I closed my eyes and somewhere, I know, Whitaker opened his.

“—YOU GOT THE VICTORY!”

 

 

___________________

Special thanks to Dr. James E. Jones Jr. senior pastor and founder of Greater Grace Church in Portsmouth, VA.

 Springs Toledo is the author of Smokestack Lightning: Harry Greb, 1919, now available in paperback.

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Mad Max and Manny

Ted Sares

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Mad-Max-and-Manny

The crowd chants “Manny, Manny, Manny” at the weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and Pacquaio’s beloved Pinoy fans are going wild. It’s a BIG event, bigger even than many heavyweight title fights.

Max

Meanwhile, Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev’s wife Elizabeth is flying from her home in St. Petersburg, Russia, to be with her husband at a hospital in Maryland. Dadashev was critically injured on Friday night while suffering an upset loss to heavy-handed Puerto Rican bomber Subriel Matias at another MGM property, the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Dadashev, 28, was 281-20 as an amateur, undefeated in 13 professional fights, and the IBF’s third-ranked junior welterweight, but Matias had his number and dominated throughout in a tough and grinding affair.

Capture 9

Maxim Dadashev

At the end of the 11th round, Buddy McGirt told his fighter, “I’m going to stop it, Max.” Dadashev protested. Maybe Max’s brain signaled no, maybe not. But his heart surely said “I’m not done.”

McGirt overruled him, a sage move, but unbeknownst to anyone the damage had been done and it was severe.

“He had one hell of a fight,” McGirt told the Washington Post. “Tough fight, tough fight; took a lot of tough body shots. I just think it was time to stop it. He was getting hit with too many shots. I said to him, ‘I’m stopping it.’ He said, ‘No, don’t.’”

The scores at the time of the stoppage were 109-100, 108-101 and 107-102 in favor of Matias. According to CompuBox, Matias out-landed Dadashev 319-157; 112 of Matias’ punches were body shots.

Max was stretchered out of the arena and rushed to UM Prince George’s Hospital where his skull was opened up to relieve the pressure caused by bleeding. The cavity reveals brain damage, and memories of Mago surface. The dreaded and familiar scenario then begins as he is put into an induced coma. Hopefully, the swelling goes down, the bleeding stops, and no blood clot appears as the later would make a terrible situation grave. In any event, Max will never box again. His well-publicized dream to win a world title will not be fulfilled.

In a post-fight interview, ESPN’s ringside analyst Tim Bradley said, “That’s a scary situation and every time you step foot in the ring you know that was always the talk that I would have with my wife. You know before I would step foot in the ring, I would sit her down, I would look at her and I would say, ‘Look at me, honey. Take a good look at me, open your eyes wide open because I might not come out the ring, for one, and I know I’m not coming out of the ring the same way that I came in.’”

Manny

Back to the big fight the following evening:

The crowd chants “Manny, Manny, Manny” as he enters the ring to battle Keith Thurman for still another championship as his worshipers are now virtually in a state of mass hysteria and begin singing and cheering loudly. The scene borders on the surreal.

Across the Pond

Earlier on Saturday, across the pond in London, heavyweight David Allen took a bad beating from 6’9” David Price and required oxygen. He also was stretchered out and sent to a hospital, adding to the angst. But he will be okay. According to his promoter, Eddie Hearn, Allen had a broken orbital bone and a damaged tongue, but brain scans suggested he was okay.

David Allen — “Very happy and proud of David Price. I will be okay, but the last 12 months or so my health has been deteriorating and I’m glad I hung on, took the chance, and made money. [I’m] now probably done.”

“Manny, Manny, Manny”

In Las Vegas, Manny has decked Thurman in the first round and the place is delirious. The crowd senses that this is his night although Thurman is not backing up. In the tenth, Pac almost puts “One Time” away after landing a devastating body punch.

Finally, the fight is over and Manny is declared the winner. The decibel count goes off the chart as the Pinoys sing “We Are The Champions.” Viewers hit the mute button. These are not fans as much as they are cultists. One wonders if those who are chanting even know that this has been a week where boxing exposed its grim side.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Ted Sares is a member of Ring 8, 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.

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