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GGG turned 40 in Japan Which Wasn’t His Land of the Setting Sun

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GGG turned 40 in Japan Which Wasn’t His Land of the Setting Sun

It is axiomatic in boxing that the last positive attribute an aging fighter loses is power, if indeed he is fortunate enough to ever have had much of it in the first place. George Foreman, who ascended to the heavyweight championship of the world a second time — at the unlikely age of 45 — with his 10th-round knockout of Michael Moorer on Nov. 5, 1994, is perhaps the foremost example of that hoary truism. Big George was and is adamant in his belief that big hitters such as he steadfastly hang onto that gift when other parts of their repertoire have grudgingly surrendered to the relentless march of time.

“I think it’s just something you’re born with, I really do,” Foreman once said of himself and fellow knockout artists who are dangerous even in the late stages of fights they are clearly losing on points, as he was against Moorer. “If you have it, a trainer can develop it and exploit it. The worst thing in the world is to have it and not have a trainer to explain to you what you have.”

One of Foreman’s more memorable utterances when he began his comeback after a 10-year absence from the ring wars was that “40 isn’t necessarily a death sentence” for a fighter, and especially so if he packs enough pop in his punch. And it must be true, if birthday boy Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin, who turned the big Four-0 on Friday, the day before he was to swap punches with Ryota Murata in their middleweight unification showdown in Saitama, Japan, is still a prime example of what can happen when someone with superior firepower begins finding his target with percussive regularity.

Golovkin looked, if not exactly well past his prime, to be at least somewhat vulnerable through the first four or five rounds against Japan’s hugely popular Murata in the fight that was seen in the United States through the streaming service DAZN. Murata, a 5-1 underdog who came in as the WBA 160-pound titlist, got the better of his share of exchanges as Golovkin, the IBF champ from Kazakhstan, struggled to establish some sort of familiar rhythm. Perhaps visions of boxing’s most stunning upset, when Buster Douglas knocked out the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson on Feb. 11, 1990, in Tokyo, had even begun to float about the Saitama Super Arena, a possibility GGG had alluded to in the lead-up to the bout.

“Japan is the land of surprises, at least when it comes to boxing,” he noted. “I remember what happened in the Tyson-Douglas fight. It has been in the back of my mind throughout training camp. I already had a lot of respect for Ryota Murata, but Tyson-Douglas is a reminder to never give less than 110% every day in training camp.”

But on this Friday night – well, actually it was early Saturday morning in the U.S., due to the 11-hour time difference between EDT and Saitama – Murata (16-3, 13 KOs) was not able to continue to channel his inner Buster, nor was Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) anywhere near-ready to be taken down in the manner that Tyson had been starched in his second visit to the Land of the Rising Sun. The starkly apparent turning point came in the sixth round, when Golovkin connected with a looping right hand to the jaw, which had the effect of sending Murata’s mouthpiece sailing through the air as if it had been cleared for takeoff.

What followed thereafter, interspersed with Murata’s increasingly futile bids to re-gather momentum, were glimpses of the Golovkin who not so very long ago strung together 23 consecutive victories inside the distance, 18 of which came in world title bouts. Most of those fights ended with his opponents twitching on the canvas as if they had just been slammed into by a speeding tractor-trailer.

For those who like to dabble in numbers, CompuBox punch statistics revealed that Golovkin had connected on 257 of 629 overall, 40.9%, to 144 of 592 (24.3%) for Murata. More tellingly, as is usually the case for GGG bouts, the master blaster nailed his opponent with 150 of 321 power shots, an impressive 46.7%, to 122 of 359 (34.0%) for the well-battered Murata, whose corner threw in the towel after their guy went down and in clear distress in round nine.

Former WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algieri, commenting for DAZN, said the Golovkin seen after Murata’s mouthpiece had gone airborne “looked like the Golovkin of old, not an old Golovkin.” And if that description isn’t entirely accurate, it was close enough against a very good fighter if not one up to the exalted standards of Canelo Alvarez, widely recognized as the planet’s top pound-for-pound practitioner of the pugilistic arts. Alvarez, against whom GGG is 0-1-1 (more than a few knowledgeable observers believed GGG deserved the nod in their first fight, which ended in a draw), is tentatively set to face him for a third time later this year, provided the Mexican superstar (57-1-2, 39 KOs) successfully gets past his May 7 date with WBA light heavyweight ruler Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs).

It says much about Golovkin’s fearsome reputation as a lights-out puncher that Jim Lampley, the veteran blow-by-blow commentator for HBO when that premium-cable outlet was doing boxing, cites GGG as the most impressively indelible power source that he witnessed while calling fights, even more so than Foreman, Tyson, Wladimir Klitschko, Tommy Hearns, Julian Jackson or anyone else.

“Gennadiy Golovkin was the most consistently hard puncher, and it’s almost a cliché that you’re going to choose somebody from the heavyweight division, but I think it’s more interesting when somebody has consistent punching power over the course of a long career in a weight class the way Gennadiy did,” Lampley told writer Joseph Santoliquito for a story in which he lists the top performers he has covered from ringside. (Lampley says the fighter atop his overall list is Sugar Ray Leonard, with Pernell Whitaker having the best defense and Bernard Hopkins the most underrated.) “The fact he weighed in hundreds of times as an amateur and a professional at the same weight, 160 pounds, makes the retention of his punching power exciting, not to mention some of the cartoon-style knockouts he produced.”

Is Golovkin, at 40, a lesser version of himself than the middleweight wrecking machine of our memories? Maybe, at least a little. Father Time remains the one opponent no fighter can duck and dodge forever, and the calendar surely must win some rounds against those who are obliged to stay on the shelf for longer periods than they might prefer. COVID-19 is a thief that has stolen bits and pieces of fighters young and old since 2020, and the pandemic was responsible for two postponements of Golovkin-Murata until fight night finally arrived. It is reasonable to assume that GGG, who has had only two bouts since his closer-than-expected points nod over Sergiy Derevyanchenko on Oct. 5, 2019, stepped inside the ropes with a thin coating of ring rust, and Murata figured to be even more off his peak form, not having fought at all in 2020 or 2021 while waiting for the global health crisis to abate.

Unless another of those pesky variants of the virus that lingers like an unwelcome house guest suddenly appears, Alvarez-Golovkin III is likely to happen before the end of 2022, the year that boxing has gloriously stepped back into the spotlight. Even if GGG’s total skill set needs a bit more polishing in the months ahead, fight fans are secure in the knowledge that he still has enough of that great equalizer, dynamite fists, to continue to be the kind of attraction that should not be missed.

Bernard Fernandez, named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Observer category with the Class of 2020, was the recipient of numerous awards for writing excellence during his 28-year career as a sports writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. Fernandez’s first book, “Championship Rounds,” a compendium of previously published material, was released in May of last year. The sequel, “Championship Rounds, Round 2,” with a foreword by Jim Lampley, is currently out. The anthology can be ordered through Amazon.com and other book-selling websites and outlets.

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Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury on Feb. 26 in a Potential Pay-Per-View Blockbuster

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It’s now official. The twice-postponed “grudge match” between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury will come to fruition on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. An 8-rounder contested at a catch-weight of 185 pounds, the match and several supporting bouts will air in the U.S. on ESPN+ PPV at a cost of $49.99.

The hook for this promotion – a come-hither that will be hammered home incessantly in the coming weeks – is that Jake Paul will finally touch gloves with a legitimate professional boxer. Paul’s previous opponents were a fellow YouTube influencer (AnEsonGib), a retired NBA player (Nate Robinson), and three former MMA champions: Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, and Anderson Silva. He fought Woodley twice.

Tommy Fury, the half-brother of reigning WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, made his pro debut in December of 2018 in a four-round bout in his hometown of Manchester. He was two fights into his pro career when he became a contestant on the TV reality show “Love Island.” An enormously popular show in Great Britain, especially among the coveted 18-34 demographic, “Love Island” was in its fifth season.

Fury was paired with supermodel Molly-Mae Hague with whom he finished second. They developed a great chemistry, on and off the set, became engaged, and purportedly welcomed a baby girl this week.

What about Tommy Fury the boxer? How legitimate is he?

Fury’s record currently stands at 8-0 (4 KOs). His first opponent was a professional loser from Latvia whose current ledger reads 10-113-3. His next six opponents were a combined 4-73-2. Finally, in his last fight, which occurred in April of last year, he met an opponent with a good record, Poland’s Daniel Bocianski, who was 10-1. But look closer and one discovers that all but one of Bocianski’s 10 triumphs came against opponents with losing records. The exception was a 6-round decision over a fellow Pole whose record currently stands at 18-16-1 and who has been stopped 13 times.

Fury bloodied Bocianski and won a wide 6-round decision, but his performance was underwhelming. “Fury had the Hollywood teeth, tan, and diamante-colored shorts,” wrote Chasinga Malata of the London Sun, “leaving only his performance without sheen and sparkle.”

There is nothing in Tommy Fury’s background, aside from his biological pedigree, to suggest that he has the tools to become a world-class boxer. If he were a member of the Three Stooges, he would be Shemp.

Jake Paul, by contrast, may actually be legit. Those in the know that have watched him train have come away impressed. It says here that Paul isn’t moving up in class on Feb. 26; it’s the other way around.

In the co-feature, Ilunga Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs) will make the third defense of his WBC world cruiserweight title against Badou Jack (27-3-3, 16 KOs). A Congolese-South African, Makabu is the older brother of heavyweight contender Martin Bakole. Jack, four years older than Makabu at age 39, formerly held world titles at 168 and 175 pounds.

Although Badou Jack was born in Sweden and keeps a home in Las Vegas where he has long been affiliated with the Mayweather Boxing Club, he will have the home field advantage in Saudi Arabia where he has cultivated a loyal following. A devout Muslim, Jack will be making his fourth straight start in the Persian Gulf Region. In his last outing, he outpointed Richard “Popeye” Rivera at Jeddah, winning a 10-round split decision.

Badou Jack

Badou Jack

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 223: A Lively Weekend in SoCal with Three Fight Cards in Two Days

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 223: A Lively Weekend in SoCal with Three Fight Cards in Two Days

Big money prizefighting returns to the Los Angeles area with back-to-back shows. First, Serhii Bohachuk heads a 360 Promotions card on Friday and then Alexis Rocha is featured on Saturday in a Golden Boy Promotions production. And on the same day Riverside’s Saul Rodriguez fights in his hometown.

Bohachuk, Rocha, and Rodriguez are aggressive big hitters.

Ukraine’s Bohachuk seeks to regain footing in the super welterweight division. He was rapidly climbing up the ratings ladder when first he was defeated by Brandon Adams two years ago. And then the invasion of his home country Ukraine stalled him even more.

On Friday Jan. 27, at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, Calif. Bohachuk (21-1, 21 KOs) meets Nathaniel Gallimore (22-6-1, 17 KOs) in the main event. UFC Fight Pass will stream the 360 Boxing Promotions card.

Few fighters are as well-liked outside of the prize ring as Bohachuk. Always amiable, he’s one of the handful of fighters that always smiles. Inside the ring, he’s a killer. No one leaves without someone getting knocked out.

Gallimore, 34, is no slouch. He has a knockout win over former world titlist Jeison Rosario and has battled almost all of the top super welterweights. He is a veteran and very crafty.

The Quiet Cannon venue is not very large, but it does have a patio and good food and drink. Most of the crowd ventures from all over Southern California to attend the fights at that venue. It gets packed.

Golden Boy in Inglewood

Welterweight contender Alexis Rocha headlines the Golden Boy Promotions card on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the brand new YouTube Theater in Inglewood, Calif. DAZN will stream the fight card.

Rocha (21-1, 13 KOs) faces George Ashie (33-5-1) in the main event set for 12 rounds. Finally, there is an opponent for the left-handed fighter from Santa Ana. It didn’t look like he was going to fight after opponent after opponent fell out for one reason or another.

“You have to be ready for anybody they put in front of you. If it’s you or George Ashie, I have to prepare for it. I have to focus on what I can do,” said Rocha.

Others on the card include super middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev (10-1) vs Ulises Sierra (17-2-2) set for 10 rounds. Also, good looking lightweight prospect Floyd Schofield (12-0, 10 KOs) meets Alberto Mercado (17-4-1).

Schofield fights out of Austin, Texas and looks like someone to watch.

Doors open at 3 p.m.

Neno Returns in San Bernardino        

Garcia Promotions stages a boxing card on Saturday Jan. 28, at the Club Event Center in San Bernardino. Garcia Promotions is associated with trainer Robert Garcia and family whose training compound is located in nearby Riverside.

A primarily local fight card featuring all fighters from Garcia’s gym will be performing.

Headlining is Saul “Neno” Rodriguez out of Riverside, California.

It’s been nearly three years since Rodriguez (24-1-1, 18 KOs) last fought and he faces Mexico’s Juan Meza Angulo (6-1, 3 KOs) in the co-main event.

At one time Rodriguez was a big fan favorite because of his fast work and knockout ability. Once he got to the top plateau he ran into another knockout puncher in Miguel Angel Gonzalez and lost by stoppage.

Prizefighting is a tricky road. One loss can mean difficulty in finding a big-time promoter or it can mean discovering what you need to do to re-establish your skills. A fighter can go the road of Kermit “The Killer” Cintron and find out other ways to win without a kill-or be-killed style. Or they can travel the road of Marco Antonio Barrera who was knocked out by Junior Jones but adapted a more boxer-puncher style that allowed him to defeat Erik Morales twice and Prince Naseem Hamed.

Rodriguez, 29, still has time to make a good run for a title bid. It all starts on Saturday.

Others on the Garcia Promotions card are fighters who are part of trainer Garcia’s stable including Gabriel Muratalla, Leonardo Ruiz, Jose Rodriguez and others.

Doors open at 4 p.m. with amateurs opening the boxing program.

Fights to Watch

Fri. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Serhii Bohachuk (21-1) vs Nathaniel Gallimore (22-6-1).

Sat. ESPN+ 11:30 a.m. Artur Beterbiev (18-0) vs Anthony Yarde (23-2).

Sat. DAZN  5 p.m. Alexis Rocha (21-1) vs George Ashie (33-5-1).

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Artur Beterbiev: “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need”

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Russian Artur Beterbiev, triple champion of the 175-pound division, is the only current world champion who, thanks to the enormous power he wields in his fists, has won all his fights inside the distance.

Beterbiev has 18 victories by way of chloroform since he debuted as a professional fighter in June 2013 when he anesthetized retired American, Christian Cruz, in the tenth round at the Bell Center in Montreal where Beterbiev currently resides.

Beterbiev, who turned thirty-eight last Saturday, will defend his WBC, IBF, and WBO titles against Brit Anthony “The Beast from the East” Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, January 28th at the OVO Arena in London.

Beterbiev obtained the WBO belt on June 18th this past year when he defeated American Joe Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round at Madison Square Garden. This was Smith’s second defense of the belt.

Earlier, in November 2017, Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt after defeating German Enrico Koelling (28-5, 9 KOs) by knockout in the twelfth round in Fresno, California.

Two years later, Beterbiev seized the WBC belt from Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in Philadelphia. Three knockdowns in the tenth round forced referee Gary Rosato to stop the lopsided bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.  Beterbiev maintains that although his intention is to win each fight, in no way does he want to harm his rival and that his greatest wish is for both of them to leave the ring healthy.

Referring to his upcoming matchup, Beterbiev told BoxingScene that “after the fight, I just hope he (Yarde) is okay.”

He acknowledged that he does not know much about the British boxer, although he has watched several of his fights: “He’s a good fighter, has good experience as a professional and he’s a boxer. He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do.”

Beterbiev said that his main motivation is to successfully defend the three belts he owns and that is why he will try to be one hundred percent ready and then it will be evident who is the better fighter.

Regarding his knockout streak, Beterbiev emphatically denied that he enjoys knocking out his opponents: “No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them. I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

Beterbiev smiles enigmatically and stares at the horizon when they ask him to what he attributes the strength of his fists to. “I know for sure, 1000 percent, that the secret to my power is somewhere in my boxing gym but I don’t know exactly where,” he adds. “I don’t know which exercise or bag gave me this secret. I don’t know where it comes from. I wasn’t always like this either, it has come from working every day. But really my dream is to be a good boxer one day.”

Aside from the upcoming fight with Yarde, Beterbiev acknowledges in each interview that his goal is to be the undisputed champion of the division, which means facing (and defeating) the undefeated Russian Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBA light heavyweight super championship belt.

“I need Bivol,” Beterbiev admits. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the hold-up is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but in this time we’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.

Beterbiev recalled that he was with Bivol on the Russian national team where they were amateurs. “I knew him then, but he is younger than me. We haven’t talked for 10 years now. He was 75kg back then, too small for me. We were never friends.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

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

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