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The Top Ten Welterweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

Matt McGrain

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The Top Ten Welterweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

147lbs has proven as fascinating as ever. We open with a series of fighters who have visited, rather than made a home in the division but who have made serious marks in small windows; drop in on some divisional homeboys who made indelible marks upon welterweight with prolonged stays; before separating the two divisional dons at the poundage, the indisputable top two who also happen to be two of the greatest fighters ever to have drawn breath.

154lbs remains my favourite divisional review in terms of footage, but 147lbs ran it close.

Rankings are by Ring for 2010 to 2012 and TBRB thereafter.

10 – Danny Garcia

Peak Ranking: 5 Record for the Decade: 20-2 Ranked For: 41% of the decade

Picking out a number ten was as difficult as ever and here’s what it boiled down to: Danny Garcia beat Robert Guerrero and Robert Guerrero beat Andre Berto and Andre Berto beat Victor Ortiz thus bring Danny out on top of the string of matches between the four guys considered at one time or another for the number ten spot (the single brief evening I considered Amir Khan shall remain between me and my priest).

So while Garcia pulled the ancient trick of putting together a decent resume at the poundage by bringing up smaller men to the target division (Lamont Peterson in a catchweight) and formerly ranked contenders past their prime (Paul Malignaggi, Brandon Rios) and performed admirably, it’s his 2016 victory over Guerrero that really cements the spot for him here. Strange but true.

In fairness, Garcia was on wonderful form that night, drilling the #9 contender with single punches that sounded like pain, leading with rights to the body, that devilish hook to the head, straight right hands over the top. Guerrero helped him by holstering his jab and following him, waiting for his size to somehow count but Garcia’s pivoting footwork whenever Guerrero finally cornered him was almost balletic in its beauty. Not that Garcia ran. Rather he staged a fighting retreat of no small note. Garcia is borderline but he has a performance as good as almost any of the fighters above him in the shape of the Guerrero dissection.

09 – Terence Crawford

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 26-0 Ranked For: 14% of the decade

It was a delight to watch Terence Crawford find his way into the welterweight division in his 2018 confrontation with Jeff Horn, the Australian who had taken a decision from Manny Pacquiao the year before. Crawford, who is not averse to an early start comprised of a watching brief, could be seen to ease his way into the bigger divisional waters: in the third, he was clear that it had become his territory, and he proceeded to dismantle Horn accordingly. Crawford treated Horn as he found him: a good fighter who had got lucky against Pacquiao while he, Crawford, was a great fighter.

That, Crawford is, but that is an appraisal based mainly upon successes he has had in the lower weights. Up at 147lbs, his big win is that victory over Horn and second is probably his similarly dominant performance against ranked contender Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Crawford’s nine round brutalisation of Kavaliauskas (check out the devastating seventh round if you haven’t) was one of the last important fights of 2019 and it is probable Crawford wouldn’t have ranked without it. Interestingly, one of the men with an argument to replace him would have been Jeff Horn, who, after all, defeated Manny Pacquiao. Briefly: I struggle to find a card for Horn and cannot really add him to the list and then write about the four rounds he may have won against Manny and try to make an argument for divisional legacy based upon it.

So Horn misses out altogether and Crawford slips in at nine, a gorgeous fighter who spreads his weight across a beautifully marshalled base to allowing retreating counters as slick as any thrown by any active fighter other than Lomachenko: he’ll likely rank a lot higher on the corresponding 2020-2029 list. During these troubled times as we come to terms with the Covid-19 outbreak, let me take a moment to share my hope that you are able to join me for those top tens as you are for these.

08 – Juan Manuel Marquez

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 6-2 Ranked For: 14% of the decade

It dawned on me that Juan Manuel Marquez would rank among the decade’s best welterweights slowly, but when I realised, I was delighted. Marquez is among my favourite fighters.

His case as a decadal top ten is all but airtight based, like Garcia, overwhelmingly upon a single performance: his devastating sixth round knockout of Manny Pacquiao. This was the fourth fight between the two and the second in the welterweight division. The third, the second at welterweight, was a controversial decision in favour of Pacquiao (I had Marquez winning close but clear) and it storied Juan Manuel’s approach for their fourth fight. Having won zero of their three previous wars, even though all were excruciatingly close, Marquez set out to knock his nemesis out. The result was the most spectacular stoppage of the century in this or any other division.

Marquez, in the far reaches of his beginnings, was a counter-punching box-mover, a safety first fighter who was nothing like as beloved as his blood and guts compatriots Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. Here, in the twilight of his career, he completed his transmutation into a face-first pressure fighter, albeit one who is baiting for counters. Marquez stayed in range and allowed himself to be hit by the most terrifying combination puncher of his era while remaining defensively responsible.

Truthfully, Marquez’s pathology was far more savage. He would later confirm that the right hand was the punch they had trained for and the punch they were looking for. One has to be careful examining a fight retrospectively, but it does feel an awful lot like the Marquez left-hook works as a shepherding punch in this fight. Drilled repeatedly by power punches in the second round, Marquez was also finding the range for his own right. The trap was sprung in the third; for the first time in thirty-nine rounds, Marquez had dumped Pacquiao on his backside. The danger in this strategy was illustrated beautifully when Pacquiao returned the favour in the fifth before, bloodied and behind on the cards, Marquez landed the punch of the century to render Pacquiao unconscious.

Marquez only had a handful of other fights at the poundage and was unlucky; I think he should have received the nod in the first welterweight contest with Pacquiao and I scored his loss to Timothy Bradley a draw that clearly could have gone in the Mexican’s favour after an astonishing, brilliant rally in the second half of that fight. So a higher ranking was not out of the question; eight is where he lands.

07 – Kell Brook

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 18-2 Ranked For: 82% of the decade

It does not sit particularly well with me, ranking Kell Brook above great fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez and Terence Crawford but this is a timely reminder that this is a decadal divisional ranking; check the “Ranked For” entries for each of these three and note the vast difference.

Brook first appears in the Ring rankings in 2011; he slipped out of the TBRB rankings in the last month of 2019. He was doing fine work, too, before 2011 in the shape of British title fights and fights for some of the more ludicrous, regional alphabet titles against solid competition like Philip Kotey and Lovemore Ndou.

But like so many British fighters before him, Brook had to travel to the USA to put the real feather in his cap. His 2014 confrontation with Shawn Porter in Carson was a difficult fight that was difficult to score and that revealed both Brook’s great strengths and great weaknesses. Outworked, outhustled, broken from his rhythm early, Brook rallied busted back with skill, heart, and poise and took six rounds on my card for the draw; the judges gave it to him by majority decision.

As shall be seen, I consider Porter the most underrated welterweight of the decade and Brook’s victory over him is special, however close it may have been. It was a marquee win for a fighter bereft of world class opposition who likely could have done good work with the best in the division.

Keeping in mind, also, that the only loss of his welterweight career came against Errol Spence; nobody else beat him.

06 – Shawn Porter

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 18-3-1 Ranked For: 65% of the decade

For each of these divisional decadal top tens I have run across a fighter I was previously guilty of underrating and at welterweight that fighter is Shawn Porter. Porter will probably surprise with his sixth placed ranking, especially a slot above the man who beat him, Kell Brook, but as you have read, I do not consider that their combat settled the issue of who was the better fighter over twelve; Brook got the nod and that is honoured, but what rests upon the other side of the scale?

Simply put, Porter beat more ranked fighters in the decade gone by than any fighter ranked outside the top two. It is not quite the number three resume, as we shall see, but it’s a fine one and honestly built.

Porter first caused ripples with his ugly, relentless style against Devon Alexander in 2013, out-and-out bulldozing the boxer out of the fight with relentless hooking pressure. Alexander just wasn’t equal to the Porter conundrum physically, and he dropped a competitive decision to a fighter who had marked himself on the up. Still more impressive in his next fight, Porter jabbed with Paulie Malignaggi and married what is an underrated weapon to his arsenal against a sliding fighter who remained ranked; Porter got him out of there in four rounds, more quickly than anyone before or since.

His finest victory was over number five contender and fellow top-ten alumni Danny Garcia. Garcia was favoured, slightly, to win that fight, and looked like he might as Porter, clearly spooked, told his trainer and father after the first round that he could “feel” Garcia ready to punch and it cost him early. Porter tucked a swathe of the middle rounds under his belt when he finally got his pressure rolling though to take a narrow decision in a fine fight. Porter makes boxers suffer.

After creeping past Cuban contender Yordenis Ugas, he dropped a close one to Errol Spence. Close fights are Porter’s bane; a good chin and a great work rate are undermined by an engine merely good and a technically sure jab is undermined by untidy swarming work with many of his other punches. He could never be dominant and dropped three close decisions during this run; but he squeezed every single bit of value out of 2010-2019 and that puts him, deservedly, just outside the top five.

05 – Keith Thurman

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 17-1 Ranked For: 58% of the decade

The joke is that Keith “One Time” Thurman carries his nickname based upon the frequency with which he likes to fight in any given year. While that is a little harsh, it is a fact that inactivity has probably hurt the Floridian more than his points loss to the immortal Manny Pacquiao in July of 2019.

Before that, Thurman stood unbeaten although the margins were often narrow. While his arrival in top tier boxing against Jan Zaveck back in 2013 was a cakewalk, Thurman’s two signature wins, both coming against men on this list, were desperately close affairs that could easily have gone against him.

Despite that, he appeared the superior fighter. He seemed both faster and sharper than Shawn Porter in their 2016 contest, landing a gorgeous array of single shots, but consistently allowed himself to be kicked out of rhythm and outworked by Porter’s less attractive surges. He took a narrow unanimous decision. Closer still was his 2017 split decision victory over Danny Garcia, who he out-popped early to take a commanding lead only to let Garcia smuggle his way back into the contest with counter-lefts to the body while trying to deploy his own jab, an underwhelming one.

But it is a fact that Thurman outlanded Garcia and did by far the cleaner, more attractive work against Porter. If he re-emerges from the Pacquiao defeat a better, busier fighter, the top five for a second consecutive decade is far from beyond him.

04 – Timothy Bradley

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 8-2-1 Ranked For: 50% of the decade

To get it out of the way, I consider Timothy Bradley’s June 2012 victory over Manny Pacquiao an out-and-out robbery and do not acknowledge the victory here for ranking purposes. Still, Bradley’s achievements up at 147lbs were significant, and it should be noted that although Pacquiao defeated him three times, no other fighter was able to do so.

Juan Manuel Marquez came the closest when the two met in October of 2013 a fight which could have been scored any one of three ways but was in no way outrageous in being scored for Bradley. It underlined the strengths to Bradley’s game, high energy boxing, some volume punching, a fine jab, not to mention heart, chin and guts. It was the key win in Bradley’s welterweight resume, although in Ruslan Provodnikov, Jessie Vargas and Brandon Rios he has victories to be proud of.

Despite all of this I personally never found Bradley’s style of boxing particularly appealing and as a UK fight fan I found it more and more difficult to sit up until four or five in the morning to watch him. It may be that I held the Pacquiao I judging against him which is grossly unfair: the winner of a badly judged fight is every bit as much the victim as the loser.

For all that, Bradley is probably unassailable in the top four and there is a certainty surrounding his placement that perhaps Keith Thurman does not enjoy.

03 – Errol Spence

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 26-0 Ranked For: 37% of the decade

Unbeaten in the decade, his entire career so far boxed at welterweight, Errol Spence also carries with him two outstanding victories over other men to rank in this decadal top ten in the shape of Kell Brook and Shawn Porter.

The Brook fight, held in 2017, was the Spence coming of age and to be fair to Brook, he was right there with the American until the seventh round, when Spence hurt him and assumed generalship. Excellent footwork and near supernatural balance left him in punching position throughout but it was the maturity of Spence’s performance that surprised. He brought serious pressure behind a high guard, using faster feet to force the British fighter to hit gloves; when he opened up his speed was superior, his timing was superior, his jab, bodywork and straight punches were superior. During Brook’s best rounds Spence took his punches and went straight back to work. His first real test, it was a tough one and he passed it by way of stoppage, the second man after Gennadiy Golovkin to turn that trick.

After mercilessly beating Lamont Peterson (ranked 8) into submission early in 2018, he completely outclassed the 140lb champion Mikey Garcia before matching Shawn Porter. This is the key fight in Spence’s career, and it comes right at the end of the decade and it proved key matters: Spence could stand in fire and punch back – he proved it over and again but especially in the third, finding precision shots under mounting pressure. He also proved he had the power to bail him out late, should he need it, scoring with a superb left-hook from square in the pocket to add the cherry on the cake in the form of a knockdown. He earned the split decision he received, 115-112 on my card.

Then Spence did something stupid: he crashed his car and was later charged with DUI. The division awaits his full recovery with bated breath – Spence seemed destined to be the next king.

02 – Manny Pacquiao

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 12-4 Ranked For: 100% of the decade

It is second place for Manny Pacquiao and I’m afraid it’s not really arguable, though it is close.

Early in 2010 Manny Pacquiao beat Joshua Clottey, then ranked among the ten best welterweights in the world, with such ease that he was able to add the occasional comedy styling for the frustrated and enormous crowd crammed into the Dallas Cowboys American football stadium. He did not lose a round. Over nine years later, some twenty years after he won his first title, Manny Pacquiao faced up to Keith Thurman, a man, as we have seen, who is appraised one of the most significant welterweights of the decade. Manny, out-reached, shorter and almost forty-one years of age, scraped a win by a single point, bookending the divisional decade with significant wins over made men. This is an astonishing achievement and it is almost unthinkable that this can occur and we do not get to refer to it as “a decade of dominance”.

The reason, of course, is Floyd Mayweather – we will get to that. In the meantime let’s look at the rundown of the men Manny out-manned, out-fought, out-hit and out-sped during a decade where he cemented an all-time pound-for-pound legacy that will echo into the next century and beyond.

After winning every round against Joshua Clottey, he repeated that trick against Shane Mosley before being run close by his great rival Juan Manuel Marquez. After being robbed on the cards against Timothy Bradley, the most brutal knockout of the century so far was perpetrated against him by Marquez at which point it seemed possible that Manny was finished at the highest level. Instead he added legitimate welterweight scalps like Brandon Rios, Jessie Vargas, Timothy Bradley twice, before that dust up with Thurman, who we will allow the last word on the welterweight legacy of Manny Pacquiao.

“Manny Pacquiao is a truly great, legendary champion.”

01 – Floyd Mayweather

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 10-0 Ranked For: 55% of the decade

When Manny Pacquiao was knocked unconscious by Juan Manuel Marquez, a man Floyd Mayweather had toyed with, the number one welterweight for the era was probably decided, but remained arguable – Pacquiao, after all, barely edges out Mayweather in terms of major welterweight scalps taken.

When the two met in the middle of the decade and Mayweather triumphed at a canter, the matter was incontrovertibly settled. It is true that Manny carried an injury with him that night, and it is true that Mayweather had adapted even better than him to the ravages of pugilistic old age, but it is also true that Mayweather took control of ring centre and countered and controlled his power-punching foe with ease for long stretches. Re-watching the fight this week I was struck both by how much more exciting and how much closer it was than I remembered, but there is no question of which of these two men is the superior pugilist. What “might have happened” four years earlier is always eclipsed by what did happen in the harsh glow of the ring lights.

Mayweather’s next best welterweight win is likely Miguel Cotto, who troubled him a little and even bloodied him up but who he also consistently out-popped throughout. It is a mark of Mayweather’s excellence that he works so well at ranges where the opposition is supposed to be superior; that where the key for other fighters of his type has been not to allow them to make the range, for him, that is not the case. He can allow them to make the range, control a portion of their time there before firmly and consistently out-hitting them at range. This generalship, or ring IQ in the parlance of today, is more than generational. Mayweather is one of the great ring generals in history. What this means is that when Mayweather’s legs began to betray him, it didn’t matter. He just ramped up on pivoting, countering the counters, slipping, moving but always, always outlanding.

A savage when called upon, he happily knocked out Victor Ortiz in controversial circumstances after suffering a headbutt in close, completely out-boxed Shane Mosley after being stunned by the hardest punch he swallowed that decade, enjoyed a narrow then a wide decision over Macros Maidana, thrashed Robert Guerrero.

All of these men appeared in the divisional top five when he met them. Some of them were on the pound-for- pound list. It all adds up to his holding the number one spot unassailably, more firmly even than his grip up the number one spot at 154lbs.

The other lists:

Heavyweight

Cruiserweight

Light-Heavyweight

Super-Middleweight

Middleweight

Light-Middleweight

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A Halloween-Inspired Homage to Bernard Hopkins

Bernard Fernandez

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A Halloween-Inspired Homage to Bernard Hopkins

A TSS CLASSIC — It is that time of year. The late-October autumn air on the East Coast is crisp and cool, and throughout America kids are looking forward to trick-or-treat. Go into any neighborhood and you’ll see jack-o-lantern faces carved into pumpkins, ghosts fashioned out of old bedsheets hanging from tree branches, cardboard witches taped to front doors.

Only two of Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins’ 55 professional bouts have taken place in October, but in a very real sense this is his special time, too. Why? Because he is boxing’s equivalent of Michael Myers, the impossible-to-kill night stalker of all those “Halloween” movies, the bogeyman who offed an inordinately high number of unsuspecting teenagers and routinely transformed Jamie Lee Curtis into a screaming, quivering mass of terrified victimhood.

Saturday night, in that haunted mausoleum known as Boardwalk Hall where he has done some of his best work, boxing’s ageless hobgoblin again came out of the shadows to spoil someone else’s party. This time it was the much-younger Kelly Pavlik –OK, so he isn’t exactly a teenager–who was executed. And that grimacing older fellow playing the role of Jamie Lee Curtis was Top Rank founder Bob Arum, who didn’t shriek out loud but looked like he just had swallowed a whole mess of something foul-tasting. Hopkins’ ridiculously easy, 12-round unanimous decision over Pavlik hadn’t followed the predicted script that called for him to finally be battered senseless and forever dragged from his bully pulpit.

“At least (Pavlik) gets to keep his titles,” a glum Arum said of Pavlik’s retention of his WBC and WBO middleweight belts that were not on the line in the 170-pound catchweight bout.

When will they ever learn? Arum has been bewitched, bothered and bewildered by Hopkins before. A few years ago, when Arum still had some promotional dibs on his once-favorite cash cow, Oscar De La Hoya, he promoted a Las Vegas doubleheader in which the Golden Boy and Hopkins were featured in separate bouts. The idea was that De La Hoya would remain loyal, Hopkins would also join the Top Rank fold and everyone would profit nicely from the arrangement. But De La Hoya formed his own company, took Hopkins with him and Arum, who can hold a grudge with the best of them, was left to simmer longer than Grandma’s home-made soup.

Of course, Hopkins has had that effect of any number of exasperated promoters who have tried to make him toe their company line. This guy not only marches to the tune of his own drummer, he has his own percussion section. Butch Lewis can’t string together five or six words, when speaking about Hopkins,  that do not include at least one expletive. Try as he might, even Don King never could bring B-Hop to heel. Lou DiBella still bristles when he thinks about what he believes to be Hopkins’ acts of betrayal. And Dan Goossen regards his brief but stormy association with Hopkins as something along the lines of a Greek tragedy.

“My biggest disappointment in boxing,” Goossen has often said of the pitched battles he waged with his most recalcitrant client behind the scenes. This from a guy who worked with Mike Tyson when Leg-Iron Mike was at or past the point of total mental meltdown.

To Hopkins’ way of thinking, promoters – well, perhaps not Golden Boy, in which he is a limited partner and, at least for now, on kissy-face terms – represent boxing’s power structure, which he claims is hell-bent on making fighters indentured servants with little or no charge over their own destinies. Other than beating up or embarrassing their gloved minions in the ring, there is nothing Hopkins enjoys more than tweaking the noses of those he is convinced have pooled their considerable resources to drive him from the sport.

So there Hopkins was, Michael Myers resurrected for the umpteenth time, chortling over the fact he had again rained on the parade of a perceived enemy. To the Philadelphian’s way of thinking, spoiling the undefeated record of Pavlik, Top Rank’s current marquee attraction, wasn’t just an isolated thundershower drenching Arum’s suddenly soggier operation; it was the landfall of a Category 5 hurricane capable of blowing a familiar tormentor right off the map.

“After Oscar beats (Manny) Pacquiao … look, I don’t want to wish nothing bad on anybody, but that might be the end of Top Rank,” said Hopkins, who might not daydream of such an outcome but clearly would not be despondent were it to come to that.

No wonder the Arums, Lewises, Kings, DiBellas and Goossens probably offer up nightly prayers that their favorite deity, or fate,  humbles Hopkins, or at least makes him grow old fast. Hasn’t this codger been on the verge of retirement now since, what, the first Clinton Administration?

“A few years ago we were here (at Boardwalk Hall) with our jaws on the floor, marveling at Bernard’s performance against Antonio Tarver,” said Mark Taffet, the HBO Pay Per View chief. “We had a beautiful retirement party for Bernard. I still have the big banner on our 11th floor at HBO. We made a beautiful framed photograph of that fight. But here we go again.

“I think I’ll ask Bernard for the $48 (cost of) the frame. I mean, where does he go now? I can’t believe anything this guy does. He continues to amaze us.”

Truth be told, Hopkins is the most accomplished fortysomething fighter the world has ever seen, and the competition for that designation isn’t even close. OK, so George Foreman flattened Michael Moorer to win the heavyweight championship for the second time at 45, unquestionably an inspiring feat, but Big George had lost every round until he delivered the takeout shot in Round 10, and he took terrible beatings in post-40 matchups with Alex Stewart and Axel Schulz, even though he won dubious decisions in those bouts. Archie Moore, the “Old Mongoose,” was the light heavyweight champ well into his 40s, but a French-Canadian fisherman with rudimentary skills, Yvon Durelle, knocked him down four times, including three in the first round, in their Dec. 10, 1958, first meeting in Montreal. Hopkins has been on the canvas exactly twice in his entire career, both of those coming in his Dec. 17, 1994, matchup with Ecuodorean Segundo Mercado, in Quito, Ecuador, for the vacant IBF middleweight crown. Even those flash knockdowns probably owed more to the thin air in Quito, which is 9,350 feet above sea level, and the fact Hopkins arrived there only four days before the fight, not nearly enough time to get acclimated to the altitude, than to the power in Mercado’s punches. Nonetheless, Hopkins salvaged a draw and he battered Mercado en route to a seventh-round TKO 4½ months later, in Landover, Md.

Almost from the time he broke through to the throne room Hopkins has busied himself making enemies, which might seem counterproductive until you examine those emotions which fuel his internal fire.

Hopkins is one of those athletes who seems happiest when he’s unhappy, like tennis’ John McEnroe. He doesn’t get mad, he gets even. Even the slightest provocation can get Hopkins stoked, and nothing lights that particular fire like the notion he is being dismissed, disrespected or disenfranchised.

Take his Sept. 29, 2001, battle with Felix Trinidad for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world. Everybody remembers how Hopkins twice grabbed and threw down the Puerto Rican flag at open-to-the-public press conferences, but the key to his finest performance ever, or at least until the dismantling of Pavlik, was Hopkins’ controlled rage at discovering that his own promoter, King, had had the Sugar Ray Robinson Trophy pre-engraved with the name of Trinidad, another King client, on it.

Like fellow paranoids Richard M. Nixon and Bobby Knight, Hopkins reads and listens to every negative thing anyone has written or said about him. He has compiled an enemies list, at least in his mind, and it pleases him greatly when those who would draw pleasure from his toppling are again left red-faced and embarrassed.

“They say Bernard is old,” Hopkins said at the postfight press conference early Sunday morning. “Yes, I am. They say Bernard is finished. They ain’t saying that now.

“I’m tired, man. I’m tired of proving myself to the same naysayers. Don’t y’all know you motivate me? I mean, what do I got to do, kill somebody? I’m the most underrated fighter when it comes to defense, when it comes to offense, when it comes to my heart. That’s why I always fight like I have to prove something.”

From a technical standpoint, Pavlik – who went off as a 5-1 favorite – probably was toast once Hopkins, who studies film as if he were Roger Ebert, detected that the Youngstown, Ohio, fighter’s big right hand was neutralized whenever he had to throw his payoff punch across his body. That’s why B-Hop continually moved to his right. But for emotional purposes, his victory might have been assured when one Internet writer beseeched Pavlik to “do boxing a favor” and “forever free him” and other dissidents of the torture of watching Hopkins, a defensive genius, make good fighters look bad.

Trash talker supreme that he may be, nothing inspires Hopkins like being on the receiving end of a really mean-spirited insult.

So, what if nine of his last 10 bouts have gone the distance, the exception being his ninth-round knockout of De La Hoya on Sept. 18, 2004? Hopkins is allowed to evolve, just as a strikeout pitcher has to resort to guile as he loses steam off his fastball. What we get nowadays is more a recital of chamber music than a KISS concert, but that does not detract from the fact he still produces classic material. Asked what it was that Pavlik found troubling about Hopkins’ unorthodox style, Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, said, “Kelly had trouble adjusting to everything.”

If Hopkins has his way – and, gee, doesn’t it seem as if that happens quite a bit at this late stage of the game – then another aging legend, Roy Jones Jr., will find a way to win his Nov. 8 fight with Joe Calzaghe in Madison Square Garden, paving the way for a rematch of Jones-Hopkins I, which took place way back in May 22, 1993? Jones won that fight, for the vacant IBF middleweight championship, by close but unanimous decision.

“I’d like to fight Roy Jones again before I die,” Hopkins said.

Might be a long time coming. After all, everyone knows that you can’t eradicate the common cockroach, Michael Myers and Bernard Hopkins.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally ran on Oct. 20, 2008, under the title “Halloween’s Early for Hobgoblin Hopkins.” The two Bernards – Hopkins and Fernandez – will be formally inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame next year with the class of 2020. Fernandez joins TSS classmate Thomas Hauser in the “Observer” category.

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

Here come some more hardcore fights.

As the end of the year approaches contracts must be honored. That’s a good thing for fight fans even during a pandemic.

Golden Boy Promotions brings a loaded fight card led by Mexican swing-from-the-heels fighter Jaime Munguia (35-0, 28 KOs) moving into the middleweight division against Tureano Johnson (21-2-1, 15 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. DAZN will stream the Friday night fight card on Oct. 30.

Munguia (pictured opposite Johnson) just recently turned 24 years old; a couple of weeks ago. The former super welterweight world titlist out of Tijuana grew out of the division and now is mentored by boxing great Erik “El Terrible” Morales. No more swinging at anything that moves. Now it’s technical savagery.

Johnson, 36, hasn’t fought in over a year but in that last fight he knocked off Ireland’s undefeated Jason Quigley. That was not supposed to happen. The Bahamian native only has two losses and those were stoppages in the last round by Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Curtis Stevens. He has the technique, but does he have the chin?

Another savage battle involves welterweights.

New England’s Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs) faces Orange County’s Alexis Rocha (16-0, 10 KOs) a hard-hitting southpaw in a showdown set for 12 rounds. Will it go that long?

Both have power and I doubt the fight goes beyond seven rounds. Both have ended fights in the opening rounds before. If someone blinks at the wrong time it could be over quickly.

Others on the card including super featherweight contender Lamont Roach and super middleweight prospect Bektemir Melikuziev. Also, female contenders Sulem Urbina and Marlen Esparza square off. Opening bout begins at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Crazy Saturday

A Matchroom Boxing fight card stemming from England showcases a Southern California-based world champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) meeting Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) in the heavyweight main event.

Usyk, now 33, just recently conquered the cruiserweight division and was undisputed world champion and now deigns to move up in weight where the money is much better fighting the big boys. He’s a speedy Ukrainian southpaw who uses plenty of movement and has shocking power when he sets his feet.

Chisora, 36, has fought all of the top European heavyweights including another Ukrainian heavyweight named Vitali Klitschko. Though it hasn’t always been violets and roses for Chisora, he does pack a wallop and if he catches Usyk it could be all over. But his feet are made of stone and he will have problems moving in rhythm with the fleet-footed Usyk.

A co-main event features lightweight contenders Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KOs) pitted against George Kambosos Jr. (18-0, 10 KOs) in a Great Britain versus Australia battle.

Two female bouts with extra power are also on the card as Savannah Marshall (8-0) battles Hannah Rankin (9-4) for the vacant WBO middleweight title; and Amy Timlin (4-0) meets Carly Skelly (3-0) in a battle of undefeated super bantamweights.

The fight card will be streamed on DAZN at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

Showtime

World champions collide with three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz daring to move up yet another weight division and challenge the ultimate danger in super featherweight and lightweight world titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis for his titles.

Danger is written all over this Showtime pay-per-view card on Saturday Oct. 31.

Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has yet to be truly challenged by anyone. Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) has always been a risk taker and could be going way over his limit against Tank.

“I’m facing the best fighter in the division. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I have to go against the best fighter,” said Santa Cruz. “I wanted to challenge myself. I know this is a dangerous fight for me, but I want to test myself.”

If Santa Cruz is still standing after 12 rounds then a big salute to him. Davis won’t allow that to happen. He’s not a guy who looks to win by decision. Tank looks to knock opponents unconscious so he can take pictures of them asleep.

“I don’t think I have to knock him out, I just have to go out there and be great. Forget everything else, I just have to go out there and show everyone that I’m the top guy in the boxing world. That’s my main goal,” said Davis.

Right.

It’s not the only good fight on the card.

Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA super lightweight title against Ryan Karl (18-2) in the co-main event.

Also, on the same card Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs) meets Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10KOs) in a super lightweight matchup. Whoever wins will probably meet Barrios for his title soon after. That’s if Barrios beats Karl.

It’s a boxing card that could see the end of the line for one or two of the fighters.

Monster and Mayer

Japan’s Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA and IBF bantamweight world titles against Australia’s Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on Saturday October 31. It will be his Las Vegas debut and will be televised on ESPN+.

Inoue will be a big favorite and how can you blame odds makers when Moloney’s only loss was to Emmanuel Rodriguez who was blown out by the Monster?

But you never know.

“There are a lot of expectations, and I want to meet those expectations. I take those big expectations, and I use them as motivation and power to keep getting better with every fight,” said Inoue.

Inoue’s last fight nearly a year ago was an epic clash against Nonito Donaire in a classic battle that saw both deliver bombs and take them in a 12-round fight that ended in a close but unanimous victory for the Japanese star.

Boy was it close.

Until the 11th round it was nip and tuck as Donaire proved why he is destined to be a surefire Hall of Fame inductee when he retires.

Both punished each other and during their confrontation it was evident that Inoue does indeed have a solid chin. One big question will be if Inoue took too much punishment and can he handle a rough customer like Moloney.

“Every fighter should want to fight the best. That’s why we’re in this sport. My dream and my goal is to be the best bantamweight in the world, and the only way to make that happen is to beat Inoue,” said Moloney.

It should be an interesting match.

Also, female American Olympian Mikaela Mayer (13-0) challenges Poland’s Ewa Brodnicka (19-0) for the WBO super featherweight world title. Expect no quarter given by Mayer who has been gunning for a title challenge for the past two years with most of the titleholders in Europe ignoring her.

Brodnicka expects a tough fight.

“I have a lot of things against me. But I’m ready. I don’t care if she says that she doesn’t respect me. She makes a lot of mistakes, and I’m going to take advantage of all of them,” Brodnicka said.

Mayer is not in a good mood.

“I have been calling out the champs for a while. It’s been something I feel like I’ve been ready for a few fights, but now in hindsight looking back, I think everything worked out perfectly. Like Bob Arum said, I’ve had some really great fights, and I’ve really been able to settle in to my pro style. I’m more ready than ever to take on these world champions. I feel like I’m the best in this division,” said Mayer.

Sunday

A Sunday afternoon boxing card by Thompson Boxing Promotions takes place at the Omega Products International in Corona, CA but will not include fans.

Undefeated lightweights Mike Sanchez (6-0-1, 2 KOs) faces Israel Mercado (8-0, 7 KOs) in the main event on Sunday Nov. 1. It will stream on Thompson Boxing Promotions web page and also on its Facebook page beginning at 4 p.m. PT.

Go to this link to watch the fight card: www.thompsonboxing.com

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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Usyk vs. Chisora Sets the Table for a Strong Night of Boxing

Arne K. Lang

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Usyk-vs-Chisora-Sets-the-Table-for-a-Strong-Night-of-Boxing

It’s been largely lost in the ragout, at least on this side of the pond, but Saturday’s busy fight docket includes the return of Oleksandr Usyk, the former Olympic gold medalist who left the cruiserweight ranks as a legitimate four-belt champion. The 33-year-old Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs), opposes tough but erratic Dereck Chisora, a 36-year old Londoner by way of Zimbabwe. Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs), has won five of his last six, the setback occurring in his second encounter with arch-rival Dillian Whyte.

Usyk vs. Chisora, a Matchroom promotion, will play out at Wembley Arena with no fans in attendance. The Ukrainian southpaw is ranked among the top three heavyweight contenders by all four major sanctioning bodies although he has fought only once as a heavyweight, turning away under-trained late sub Chazz Witherspoon who was all in after seven frames. Usyk weighed 215 for that contest and is expected to come in about 230 for Chisora.

Usyk, who has anglicized his first name to Alexander on his English-language twitter feed, is a big favorite, but this is a tricky fight for him. The consensus 2018 Fighter of the Year, Usyk has fought only twice since unifying the cruiserweight title with a lopsided decision over Murat Gassiev in July of that year and 55 weeks have elapsed since his last start. If he needs the early rounds to shake off ring rust, he could find himself clawing out of a hole, and sometimes the hole is too deep as Usyk’s stablemate Vasiliy Lomachenko can attest. Moreover, Usyk has yet to face a naturally bigger man who can bang as hard as “Del Boy.”

The Usyk-Chisora card will air in North America on DAZN with the main event ring walks anticipated about 6 pm ET.

The tiff is hitched to an interesting undercard. Once-beaten Welshman Lee Selby, briefly the IBF featherweight champion, tangles with Australia’s undefeated (18-0) George Kambosos Jr. Savannah Marshall, who saddled Claressa Shields with her only amateur loss, meets former Shields opponent Hannah Rankin with a vacant world middleweight title at stake, Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy opposes Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune for a domestic cruiserweight title, and then there’s the heavyweight fight attracting buzz between popular Yorkshireman David Allen and Christopher Lovejoy.

The buzz surrounds the mysterious 36-year-old Lovejoy who is 19-0 as a pro with all but two of those KOs coming in the opening round.

All of Lovejoy’s fights were staged in Tijuana. Only one of his opponents brought a winning record. For a certain stripe of fighter, Tijuana is the equivalent of a feed lot, a place where livestock go to get fattened up before they are sent off to the slaughterhouse. David Allen is limited, but the most likely scenario in this fight is that it ends with Lovejoy sitting on his stool.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

To comment on this post in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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