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The Hauser Report: Dmitry Bivol Should Not Be Allowed to Fight Canelo Alvarez

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The Hauser Report: Dmitry Bivol Should Not Be Allowed to Fight Canelo Alvarez

“The ambition is global domination. It is like a snowball that keeps on growing. We never stop trying to do more or be bigger or go to new territories.”

No, that wasn’t Vladimir Putin. It was Eddie Hearn (as reported by Ron Lewis on May 16, 2021). Hearn, of course, didn’t say it in the context of geopolitics. He was talking about Matchroom Boxing and DAZN.

Matchroom and DAZN are now planning to promote and stream a championship fight between Canelo Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on May 7. Because Bivol is a Russian citizen who lives in Russia, there have been calls to replace him as Canelo’s opponent.

On March 8, Wladimir Klitschko (who has returned to Kyiv to help defend his Ukrainian homeland against Russian aggression) was interviewed by BBC 5 Live Radio and urged the broadest possible economic sanctions against Russia including a global boycott of Russian athletes. When asked if Canelo-Bivol should proceed, Klitschko answered, “Absolutely not. Every sanction – and it’s nothing against the personalities or athletes, it’s about the politics of Russia – every Russian representative in this case needs to be sanctioned because this way we show to Russia that the world is against his [Putin’s] senseless war and there is no good in this war.”

“To isolate Russia from all sporting competition is not an act of aggression,” Klitschko continued. “We do this to stop the war, in the name of peace. I have nothing personal against the athletes, but I have a lot against the aggression of Russian leader Putin. We believe sanctions on different levels, including sport, are crucially important. If you take away sporting competition, the athletes will ask their leader, ‘Why will nobody compete against us?’ I repeat, this is not against the athletes. It’s in the name of peace in Ukraine.”

Bivol was born in Kyrgyzstan but has lived in Russia for most of his life and is a Russian citizen. Those who support his right to fight Canelo on May 7 say there’s nothing to indicate that he favors Putin’s war of aggression and that sports should be kept separate from politics. But the arguments against allowing Canelo-Bivol to proceed are overwhelming.

At the March 2 kick-off press conference for Canelo-Bivol, Dmitry told reporters, “None of us are enjoying what is happening. I have a lot of friends in Ukraine. I have a lot of friends in Russia and my family is in Russia. I wish everyone peace and only the best.”

That’s an empty statement. I have no idea what Bivol’s political views are. He seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. One empathizes with the fact that his family in Russia would be at risk if he spoke out against the invasion of Ukraine. The war isn’t his fault. But I have more sympathy for the people who are being killed as a consequence of Russia’s brutal aggression.

Sports are important to geopolitics. Indeed, it’s widely believed that the Chinese government asked Putin to not invade Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics in Beijing came to a close. Far from being a bastion of good will, sports are a money-making machine and, to borrow a phrase from Karl Marx, the opiate of the masses.

Despite calls for the United States to boycott the 1936 Olympics in Germany, the games went ahead with American participation. Some people look back fondly on those games because of the gold-medal performances by Jesse Owens. But Germany led the medal count at the 1936 Olympics by a wide margin. The games strengthened Adolph Hitler’s standing with the German people and were the subject of Leni Riefenstahl’s influential propaganda film, Olympia.

Vitali Klitschko’s own political career speaks to the power of sports as a platform for political action (he is now mayor of Kyiv), as do the lives of Muhammad Ali and Manny Pacquiao.

Canelo-Bivol isn’t just any fight. Because of Canelo’s stature, a victory for Bivol would make Dmitry a potent symbol of Russian might and be heralded as a great victory for Russia. Some people point to the 1938 rematch between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling and ask, “If Schmeling fought then, why can’t Bivol fight now.” The answer is that (1) those were different times; (2) even then, there were calls to boycott Louis-Schmeling II; and (3) it was personally important to Louis that he fight Schmeling, whereas Bivol is a fungible opponent for Canelo. And think of the boost it would have given Hitler’s vile regime if Schmeling had won.

Is it fair to deprive Bivol of a large payday, thereby imposing a financial sanction on one man who is not responsible for the carnage in Ukraine?

That’s the way economic sanctions work. Is it fair to deprive oil workers in Russia or Russians who work at McDonald’s and Starbucks of their jobs? Financial sanctions are designed to impact upon an aggressor nation’s people. It’s better than killing them. If Bivol loses the opportunity to fight Canelo, I’ll have a degree of sympathy for him. But not as much sympathy as I feel for the people in Ukraine who are being brutalized by the Russian invasion.

And by the way; paying higher prices for gas as a consequence of the economic sanctions being imposed on Russia is a small price for Americans to pay. It’s a far lesser sacrifice than being bombed or sending soldiers to die in battle.

Neutrality isn’t an acceptable option in the present crisis. In Dante’s Inferno, it’s written of those who refuse to take a stand on moral issues, “Let us not talk of them, but look and pass.” Later, those words were interpreted and quoted by John F. Kennedy as “the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

As the Irish-born British statesman Edmund Burke wrote more than two centuries ago, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Randy Roberts is uniquely qualified to comment on the present situation. Roberts holds the title of Distinguished Professor of History at Purdue University where he teaches a course on World War II. He has also been a visiting professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he taught courses on military history and the history of sport. And he has been honored with the A.J. Liebling Award by the Boxing Writers Association of America for biographies of Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey, and Jack Johnson.

Roberts says unequivocally, “Bivol should not be allowed to fight Canelo. The world community has to put as much pressure as possible on Russia. Sports are a national unifying factor. Sports are a way to measure international greatness. That’s why they count Olympic medals. It shouldn’t be that way but it is. To deny a world stage in sports to Russia is important. The Russian people aren’t responsible for what’s happening today in Ukraine. But it’s impossible to separate Russia from the Russian people. Denying Bivol the opportunity to fight would be an appropriate extension of economic sanctions.”

“This is a scary time,” Roberts continues. “Never in my life since the Cuban Missile Crisis have I thought there was a real possibility of nuclear war. I always felt that sane people were ultimately in charge. But Putin doesn’t fit that mold because, like Hitler, he shows a willingness to take unthinkable steps. I don’t think he has wide support for this war in the military or among the Russian people. There have to be generals in Russia who, right now, are thinking that what’s happening in Ukraine is wrong. But can they halt the use of nuclear weapons if Putin orders it?”

Where do we go from here?

First, let’s acknowledge the heroic role being played by Vitali Klitschko as mayor of Kyiv. Vitali (pictured) and Wladimir are inspirational figures. Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk have returned to their homeland and also joined the defense effort.

As of this writing, Matchroom and DAZN seem to be moving ahead with Canelo-Bivol. Let’s not forget; this is the same team that staged the 2019 rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia despite compelling evidence that the Saudi government was responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

DAZN founder Len Blavatnik is Ukrainian-born and a citizen of both the United States and United Kingdom. His personal fortune has been estimated by Bloomberg and other sources as being well in excess of $20 billion. A substantial portion of his wealth came from buying formerly-state-owned oil and aluminum assets in Russia as they were privatized by the Russian government.

Blavatnik could unilaterally pull the plug on Canelo-Bivol in an instant. And if he’s concerned about the financial impact that would have on Bivol, he could reach into his pocket to make Dmitry whole.

Or maybe, at the opposite end of the spectrum, someone will cynically decide that the controversy over whether Bivol should be in the ring on May 7 is good marketing for Canelo-Bivol and that it will engender more subscriptions and pay-per-view buys.

Meanwhile, if DAZN proceeds with its plans to stream Canelo-Bivol, DAZN subscribers can cancel their subscriptions in protest. At the very least, if the fight goes ahead, boxing fans should donate $79.99 to a Ukrainian relief fund rather than buy the fight. Don’t fall for someone saying, “Oh, we’ll donate a portion of the proceeds from the promotion to charity.” Take matters into your own hands, boycott the fight, and donate the full $79.99.

Which is more important: being entertained by two men in a fistfight or making an effort to halt a senseless slaughter?

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Broken Dreams: Another Year Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, he was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG 

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG

Two bouts between women, which will turn the winners into undisputed champions in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, will create an electrifying atmosphere this Saturday, February 4th at Madison Square Garden.

In the duel between the two southpaws, Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs), based in Brooklyn), will defend her 126-pound WBC, IBF and WBO titles, while Mexican Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) will defend her WBA title.

Also, of great interest will be the fight between American Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KOs), 130-pound WBC, IBF and WBO champion and her opponent, French challenger Elhem Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KOs), who will try to snatch Baumgardner’s titles and get the vacant WBA title, which belonged to the undefeated Korean Choi Hyun-Mi (20-1, 5 KOs).

Choi, who was born in Pyongyang, North Korea but left the country with her family at the age of 14 and settled in Seoul, South Korea, was declared “Champion in Recess”, as she suffers from a medical condition that prevents her from fighting. Once she fully recovers, she will have the possibility of facing, as a mandatory challenger, the winner between Baumgardner and Mekhaled.

For Baumgardner, who was born 28 years ago in Ohio, but now lives and trains in Michigan, the fight in New York will once again allow her to showcase her skills in the United States after three consecutive fights in the United Kingdom.

In her most recent bout, Baumgardner defeated her compatriot Mikaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) in a difficult brawl, from whom she snatched the IBF and WBO belts, while retaining the WBC belt. The bout was October 15th of last year at the O2 Arena in London. Two of the officials, Steve Gray and John Latham, scored the fight 96-95 in favor of Baumgardner, but Terry O’Connor saw it 97-93 for Mayer.

Four days later, Choi unanimously defeated Canada’s Vanessa Bradford (6-4-2, 0 KOs) in Seoul, earning the Asian her ninth successful defense of the WBA super featherweight crown, which she has held since May 2014, when she anesthetized the now retired Thai, Siriwan Thongmanit.

The following month, in November, the WBA ordered Choi to defend her belt in a mandatory duel against Baumgardner, making the winner the undisputed queen of 130 pounds.

ELHEM MEKHALED FILLS THE VACANCY OF SOUTH KOREAN CHOI

To fill the vacancy of the South Korean Choi, the IBF Committee awarded the position to Mekhaled who ranks third in the women’s 130-pound rankings.

Former interim WBC titleholder, Mekhaled, 31 years old and born in Paris, has recently lost by unanimous decision to Belgian Delfine Persoon (47-3, 19 KOs) at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi where they disputed the vacant WBC silver belt.

The duel against Baumgardner not only allows Mekhaled to debut in the United States, but also provides her the opportunity to become the undisputed champion at 130 pounds.

Mekhaled emphasized that the February 4th event has great significance for women fighters and that this is a sign that the discipline is growing, with more and more fight cards in which women exhibit the leading role.

The French boxer said that after winning the interim title in 2015, she waited a long time for the opportunity to fight for the regular belt, but unfortunately it never materialized.

Mekhaled explained that after a long period of focusing on her personal life and not really training, she accepted the duel with Delfine Persoon with only two weeks of preparation, which led to the setback against the Belgian boxer.

“Since my WBC interim 2019 title, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” said Mekhaled. “Maybe fate has played well; instead of one belt, they’re all on the line. I am super excited to fight on February 4th at the legendary MSG in New York. God knows how determined I am! It’s my time to shine. Thank you to my advisor Sarah Fina.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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How good is Jake Paul? Shane Mosley’s Answer May Surprise You

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Few celebrities in the world today are as polarizing as Jake Paul. The 26-year-old Cleveland native who fights Tommy Fury in an 8-round match on Feb. 26 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has fervent fans and equally fervent detractors. To long-time aficionados of boxing, especially those born before the arrival of the internet, Jake Paul and his ilk are widely looked upon as a scourge.

Paul first entered the squared circle on Aug. 25, 2018, at the Manchester Arena in England. He fought fellow YouTube star Deji Olatunji in the co-feature to a match between their respective older brothers, Logan Paul and the “influencer” known as KSI. The combatants promoted the event on their social media platforms

These were exhibitions fought with headgear. Jake Paul stopped Olatunji whose corner pulled him out after five rounds. However, the results wouldn’t appear on boxrec, the sport’s official record-keeper.

No serious boxing fan paid this curious event any heed, but the folks that profit from the sport without taking any punches stood up and took notice. The on-site gate reportedly exceeded $3 million. The event reportedly generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys worldwide (youtube charged $10 a pop) with nearly as many beholders catching a free ride on a pirate stream. A new era was born, or at least a new sub-set of a heretofore calcified sport.

Jake Paul had his first professional fight on Jan. 30, 2020, in Miami. In the opposite corner was a British social media personality of Saudi Arabian lineage who took the name AnEsonGib. Paul stopped him in the opening round.

Paul fought once more that year, knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson, and three times in 2021, opposing Ben Askren and then Tyron Woodley twice. Askren and Woodley were former MMA champions who had fabled careers as U.S. collegiate wrestlers, but both were newcomers to boxing.

According to Forbes, Jake Paul made $31 million from boxing in 2021. And therein lies the rub. While thousands of would-be future champions, many with deep amateur backgrounds, toiled away in boxing gyms honing their craft while hoping to attract the eye of an important promoter, a guy like Jake Paul came along and jumped the queue. It just ain’t fair.

In preparation for his pro debut against AnEson Gib, Paul spent time in Big Bear, California, training at the compound of Shane Mosley. A first ballot Hall of Famer (class of 2020), Mr. Mosley needs no introduction to readers of this web site. And when he says that Jake Paul is legit, one is inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“I taught him the fundamentals,” says Mosley, “but Jake was a good listener and a hard worker. He’s a good athlete and he has a boxer’s mentality. We took him down the street to Abel Sanchez’s gym and had him spar with real professional fighters. He would spar with anybody and when he got caught with a hard punch he wouldn’t back down. He loves the sport and he relished the competition.”

Mosley stops short of saying that Jake Paul could hold his own with Canelo Alvarez – Paul preposterously called out Canelo after out-pointing 47-year-old MMA legend Anderson Silva in his most recent fight – but with so many titles up for grabs in this balkanized sport, it wouldn’t   surprise Mosely if the self-styled “Problem Child” latched hold of one before this phase of his life was over.

A three-time national amateur champion and a world champion at 135, 147, and 154 pounds as a pro, Shane Mosley put Pomona, California on the boxing map. He represented that city in LA county throughout his illustrious career. His son of the same name was born there.

Mosley fought twice in his hometown as he was coming up the ladder and will be back there again on Feb. 18 when Shane Mosley Jr appears on the undercard of a Golden Boy Promotions card at Pomona’s historic Fox Theater. It’s not official yet so we won’t divulge the name of Shane’s opponent, but the main event will pit Luis Nery against Azat Hovhannisyan in a WBC Super Bantamweight Eliminator, a match that shapes up as an entertaining skirmish as both have fan-friendly styles.

Shane Mosley Jr Sr

Shane Mosley Jr & Sr

Shane Mosley Jr, who turned 31 in December, will never replicate his father’s fistic accomplishments; his dad set the bar too high. But the younger Mosley is a solid pro who is on a pretty nice roll, having won five of his last six since losing a 10-round decision to Brandon Adams in the finals of season 5 of The Contender series. In his last outing, he out-slicked rugged Gabriel Rosado to win a regional super middleweight title.

The elder Mosely has been working with his son at Bones Adams gym in Las Vegas and will be in junior’s corner on Feb. 18. It will be a double-homecoming for Pomona’s favorite sons.

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Arne K. Lang’s third boxing book, titled “George Dixon, Terry McGovern and the Culture of Boxing in America, 1890-1910,” has rolled off the press. Published by McFarland, the book can be ordered directly from the publisher or via Amazon.

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Amanda Serrano Seeks Undisputed Status at 126 with Katie Taylor on the Horizon 

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After becoming the boxing icon of Puerto Rico last year, Amanda Serrano will try to make history again when she faces the Mexican southpaw Erika Cruz on February 4th at the Hulu theater in Madison Square Garden.

Promoter Eddie Hearn stated, “Puerto Rico vs Mexico fights always deliver fireworks, and we can expect nothing less when Amanda and Erika meet. Their clash of styles will make for a brilliant spectacle as Amanda and her army of fans return to the scene of her history-making fight of the year with Katie, and we can expect a similar atmosphere to one of the greatest nights the sport has ever seen.”

Champion in several sanctioning bodies, Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs) will put her WBC, IBF and WBO featherweight belts on the line, while Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) will be defending the WBA belt. If she succeeds, the thirty-four-year-old Serrano, a native of Puerto Rico who has lived in Brooklyn, New York since childhood, will become the first boxer from Puerto Rico to hold the four most recognized belts in boxing.

“This is a pivotal moment, not just for me and my own career but for my home island of Puerto Rico,” said Serrano. “Earning the opportunity to be an undisputed lineal champion is something most fighters only dream about but becoming the first boxer from Puerto Rico to be an undisputed champion would make it even more special. I look forward to entering the ring in my hometown of NYC back at Madison Square Garden, taking on a Mexican champion in Erika Cruz and making Puerto Rican history. I encourage all my fans to turn up and tune in!”

The Puerto Rican boxer, who has won 30 of her 46 fights within the distance, said that if Cruz has a tactical plan in place that consists of exchanging punches, the bout will not go the 10 scheduled rounds.

Last September, Serrano unanimously defeated then-undefeated Dane Sarah Mahfoud (11-1, 3 KOs, in Manchester, England. Previously, in April, Serrano lost a split decision to Ireland’s Katie Taylor (22-0, 6 KOs) who successfully defended her four lightweight belts. Two judges scored the fight (97-93) for Taylor and the other (96-94) in favor of Serrano.

Taylor and Serrano became the first female boxers to headline a boxing match at Madison Square Garden. The two ladies also made history by each receiving a check for more than a million dollars which had an increase from pay-per-view earnings.

Referring to a possible rematch against Taylor, Serrano commented that if she beats Cruz, as expected, and if/when she meets Taylor for the second time (possibly in May in Ireland), it would be an epic duel between two undisputed champions: Serrano at 126 pounds and Taylor at 135.

Even though Serrano longs for a rematch with Taylor, she realizes that her immediate challenge is Cruz and has assured us that she is in excellent shape physically, technically, and mentally. She has increased the amount of sparring in camp, focusing on aggressiveness and explosiveness. She’s also added a sports massage therapist to her team which has helped with recovery.

In regard to a second confrontation between Serrano and Taylor, promoter Eddie Hearn stated, “For Serrano to become undisputed at 126 and then fight Katie again for the undisputed at 135 at Croke Park in Dublin, it would make that rematch even bigger if you can imagine that.”

Cruz, 32 years old and born in Mexico City, has put together a win streak of 14 following her loss to compatriot Alondra González on June 25, 2016, in Puebla, Mexico. Cruz conquered the WBA world belt on April 22, 2022, when she defeated Canadian Jelena Mrdjenovich who was unable to continue in the seventh round due to a cut caused by an accidental headbutt.

Erika Cruz

Erika Cruz

Five months later, on September 3, Cruz faced Mrdjenovich for a second time and again came out with her arm raised, this time winning by unanimous decision in Hermosillo, Mexico, where she retained the WBA title for the second time.

Cruz is looking forward to the matchup with Serrano. “I am grateful that this opportunity was finally given to me after many years of work,” said Cruz. “I have always gone against everything, but God is on my side, and he has given me the strength to achieve my goals. It’s time to make history and give Mexico its first unified champion at 126 lbs.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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