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Canelo is Still Mostly the Canelo That We Remember, but GGG is Another Story

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Canelo is Still Mostly the Canelo That We Remember, but GGG is Another Story

A fat and seemingly overly optimistic George Foreman, upon launching a boxing comeback after 10 years away from the ring and at the preposterously advanced age of 40, uttered the words that have since become the mantra of all formerly great fighters who are resolute in their conviction that the best of themselves is not necessarily restricted to memories of what used to be.

“The age of 40 is not a death sentence,” Big George proclaimed to much skepticism from the media, and damn if he didn’t speak that pugilistic unlikelihood to truth when, at 45, he knocked out the much-younger and favored Michael Moorer in the 10th round on Nov. 5, 1994, to ascend to the heavyweight championship of the world for a second time.

But Father Time is the unseen opponent all fighters who have extended their fighting lives to their 40th birthday and beyond eventually discover is less conquerable than flesh-and-blood opponents. And so it would appear to be the case for future Hall of Famer Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin, whose unanimous-decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in their third matchup Saturday night in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena might have conveyed more about what the future holds for him than it did for the victor.

“I have a lot left. I have a great plan, a lot of appointments. Remember, I’m still champion at 160,” insisted Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) after the longtime middleweight champion from Kazakhstan, in his super middleweight debut and possibly final ring appearance in that division, failed to annex Alvarez’s WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO 168-pound titles in a fight that did not appear to be nearly as close as the scorecards indicated. Give Golovkin credit for a too-little, too-late rally in the later rounds, but the 115-113 tallies for Alvarez (from judges Steve Weisfeld and David Sutherland) and 116-112 (Dave Moretti) seemed more than a tad generous.

Punch statistics furnished by CompuBox are another numerical means of ascertaining who did what, and although Canelo only out-landed GGG by 130 to 120, he connected with 85 power punches to just 46 for Golovkin, whose reputation had been made through a succession of brutal knockouts, 23 straight in one elongated stretch, 18 of which came in world championship fights. No one would have, or should have, yelped in surprise had the tallies read by ring announcer David Diamonte been 117-111 (as I had it) or even 118-110 for Canelo, whose bid to move closer to his status as the sport’s pound-for-pound best, which he relinquished as the result of the transfer of his WBA (super) light heavyweight belt on a clear points loss to Dmitry Bivol on May 7 of this year, might have received only a moderate boost. That the Mexican superstar won so convincingly is especially noteworthy in light of the revelation that he had fought with a tear in the cartilage of his left wrist, which might require surgery.

“I can’t hold a glass,” Alvarez, still arguably in his prime at 32, said of his achy hand. “It’s really bad. But I’m a warrior.”

Trilogies have a special place in boxing history, with good reason. Ali-Frazier, Gatti-Ward, Bowe-Holyfield, Fury-Wilder, Barrera-Morales and similar three-act passion plays have been so compelling that each installment is memorialized as part of a more historically relevant whole. But Canelo-GGG III concluded not with an exclamation point, but with a simple period. It was a lesser version of the two preceding segments, the first being a disputed split draw on Sept. 16, 2017 (many ringside reporters thought Golovkin deserved to win what had been a very competitive bout) and a similarly engrossing do-over on Sept. 15, 2018, in which Alvarez came away with a majority-decision win.

The second fight was delayed after Alvarez twice tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, which he claimed was the result of ingesting contaminated Mexican beef, resulting in a six-month suspension handed down by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Golovkin disputed that ascertainment, unequivocally stating his opinion that Canelo was a cheater. That led to both men developing harsh feelings toward the other, with Alvarez going so far as to say he “hated” GGG and would make him wait, possibly forever, for the third meeting he so obviously wanted. Thus was Saturday’s archrivalry-concluding showdown left to simmer on the back burner for four years, which now would seem to have had a more deleterious effect on GGG.

But that does not detract from what Golovkin brought to the table when he was blasting his way through the middleweight division as few champions have, matching Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 successful defenses along the way. If historians want to place Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Hopkins higher based on quality of opposition, fine, but there can be no argument that the manner in which GGG starched his lengthening list of victims was highly impressive.

Longtime HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley several years ago paid Golovkin a massive compliment when he called him the “most consistently hard puncher” he had seen over an extended period, more so than even the vaunted likes of Foreman, Mike Tyson, Wladimir Klitschko, Thomas Hearns and Julian Jackson.

“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,” Lamps commented. “The fact he weighed in hundreds of times as an amateur and a profession 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.”

If he truly intends to remain active as a fighter, even if only a facsimile of his battering-ram best, it is entirely possible that Golovkin can remain a factor in his preferred comfort zone of middleweight for a couple of more years. Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Jaime Munguia, Chris Eubank Jr. and Carlos Adames are all in that division, and there is always the possibility that junior middles Jermell Charlo, Brian Castano, Sebastian Fundora and Tim Tszyu could move up. If fans of GGG close their eyes and imagine a best-case scenario for him moving forward, it might be for him to replicate what Hopkins did after the second of his back-to-back losses to Jermain Taylor (the first of which was at age 40), which was to move to another weight class (light heavyweight), win a world there twice and fight on for another 12 years. If it happened once, hey, maybe it could happen again.

The options for Alvarez are even more expansive. He has been a world champion at 154, 160, 168 and 175 pounds and is not averse to going wherever the biggest, highest-paying and most-legacy-enhancing fights are. He has professed to want another shot at Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), should he get past his Nov. 5 clash with Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs), which some would say is inadvisable the way their first meeting went, or he can remain at super middle and throw hands with the formidable David Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs), arguably an even more attractive pairing. Unlike Golovkin, however, Canelo can’t afford any more hints of slippage; he has been to the top of the P4P mountain and wants to enjoy that vista again, and for a long time.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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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Seasons Beatings from Philly where Local Fighters of Note are in Action This Weekend

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Seasons Beatings from Philly where Local Fighters of Note are in Action This Weekend

Tomorrow night (Friday, Dec. 8) begins a nice stretch of live boxing in the Philadelphia area after a relatively quiet fall schedule. These shows will wrap a bow on the 2023 fight schedule for the Delaware Valley with a slate of shows already scheduled for the early part of the upcoming new year.

This sudden boom, well overdue, is good for the Delaware Valley, for its fighters and its fight fans. So, while these shows aren’t large-scale, they are a great way for fight fans to learn about fighters they may see competing on those larger shows in the future.

Let’s look at what exactly fans are in for with the final shows of 2023.

Friday, December 8th – Wind Creek Events Center, Bethlehem, PA (Kings Promotions)

Jesse Hart (29-3) vs. Jeyson Minda (14-7-1) tops a massive 11-fight card. For years now, Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions has put on successful shows in the Philadelphia region. Not only do they hit the mark from a commercial standpoint, but his shows always have entertaining fights where the result could go either way and this show should be no different.

Jesse Hart (pictured with Jarrett Hurd) finds himself somewhat in limbo in the sport. Staying active and keeping his tools sharp is crucial for Hart to continue to keep his name out there and work his way back into the rankings.

A powerful fighter who often finds himself in engaging battles, Hart’s three defeats happened against only two fighters — Gilberto Ramirez (twice) and Joe Smith, both former world champions. Since his last setback in 2020, Hart has won three fights on the local scene while enduring some setbacks outside of the ring due to hand injuries. Released from his contract with Top Rank, Hart finds himself in the position where his name and pedigree (he’s the son of former middleweight standout Eugene “Cyclone” Hart) coupled with a string of quality victories could open the door to another crack at a marquee name in the super middleweight or light heavyweight division.

Former super welterweight king Jarrett Hurd (24-3) takes on Tyi Edmonds (14-5). In his most recent fight back in March, Hurd returned to the ring after a long absence and was shockingly stopped in the tenth round by Armando Resendiz.  Against Edmonds, Hurd looks to prove that he still has elite-level abilities as he too tries to work his way back to the top. A much-needed victory would start that process while a third defeat in a row, especially if it’s physically taxing, would all but mark the end of having his name mentioned anywhere near the division’s best.

Julian Gonzalez (11-0-1) is a talented Kings Promotions fighter who packs a punch, especially for a super featherweight. The 22-year-old Reading, PA native continues his growth against Texas journeyman Juan Antonio Lopez (17-15-1). If successful, Gonzalez will set himself up for a bright 2024 that should see him face quality fringe contenders as well as other prospects which will lead to bigger fights down the road.

Saturday, December 9th – Showboat Hotel, Atlantic City, NJ (Champions Sports and Entertainment)

Philadelphia fan favorite Joey “The Tank” Dawejko (26-10-4, 14 KOs) is staying busy in the twilight of his career. He’s 3-0 thus far in 2023 which includes two exciting victories over Colby Madison (their first fight, a bruising tiff, will most likely be the 2023 Philadelphia Fight of the Year). On Saturday he returns to the ring to defend his WBC USA heavyweight title in an 8-round battle vs. Jesse Bryan (21-7-2, 16 KOs) of Jefferson City, Missouri. This fight headlines a nine-bout show by CSE which is trying to revive boxing on the boardwalk.

In the co-main, Glassboro, NJ native Derrick Webster (29-4-1) will take on the always durable Cleotis Pendarvis (22-19-2) in an 8-round battle of super middleweights.

Liverpool, NY super lightweight Bryce Mills (13-1, 4 KO) looks to add to his 7-fight winning streak when he battles the durable Tackie Annan (15-10) in a fight scheduled for six rounds. Mills has continued to grow his fan base in the northeast by taking part in action-packed fights from the opening bell. His fans tend to travel well and Saturday looks to be no different as a large contingent of his fans are expected to turn up in Atlantic City to support their young charge. It also helps that Mills, like Dawejko, has teamed up with Hall-of-Fame promoter J. Russell Peltz to help guide his professional career.

Edward Donovan (7-0), a super welterweight prospect from Limerick, Ireland, puts his undefeated record on the line when he battles tough Jetter Burgos (6-1, 5 KO) from the Bronx, NY. Puerto Rican lightweight Joey Borrero (11-1, 9 KO), along with super middleweight prospect Cali Box (2-0) from Franklin Township, NJ, will appear in separate fights.

Date TBD– 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, PA (R&B Promotions)

Tevin Farmer (32-5-1) and Patrick Okine (21-6-2) were slated to meet in the main event last Friday, Dec. 1, on a show at the always-fun 2300 Arena. At the last minute, the show was postponed. An e-mail announcing the unfortunate postponement stated that the show would be rescheduled soon. While a new date has yet to be locked in, all signs point toward the show coming to fruition at the close of 2023 or early in 2024.

A former IBF world super featherweight champion, Tevin Farmer was set to make his third appearance of 2023 as he continues to shake off the ring rust that formed after a much-needed break and continue his push toward becoming a two-time world title-holder. It’s crazy to think, but it’s already been more than three full years since Farmer lost his title to Jojo Diaz in January of 2020.

Farmer, who had a late start in the sport, turned pro without the glitz and glamour that accompanies a highly decorated amateur, but fought his way to the top, beating the odds to achieve his life’s dream of championship glory. His break from the sport following his defeat to Diaz was needed to reenergize him from both a physical and mental standpoint.

In Okine he will find himself in the ring with a sturdy opponent that has faced some of the top contenders in and around the lightweight division. “I wanted Tevin [Farmer] to stay active and keep sharpening his tools and Okine provides that opportunity for him,” stated Alex Barbosa, the promoter/matchmaker. “Okine is always tough and comes to win, which is just what Tevin needs at this point of his career.”

With the lightweight division having had a changing of the guard at the top in terms of the championships, Farmer, 33, just may get that second chance at the top of the mountain. And if he continues to stay active while racking up solid victories, it may come sooner rather than later.

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The IBHOF Class of 2024 includes Ricky Hatton, Michael Moorer, and Ivan Calderon

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The IBHOF Class of 2024 includes Ricky Hatton, Michael Moorer, and Ivan Calderon

The International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum in Canastota, New York, has unveiled its newest class of inductees. The Class of 2024 includes Ricky “The Hitman” HattonMichael “Double M” MoorerIvan “Iron Boy” Calderon and Diego “Chico” Corrales (posthumous) in the men’s Modern category; Jane “The Fleetwood Assassin” Couch and “La Guerrera” Ana Maria Torres in the Women’s modern category; trainer Kenny Adams, manager Jackie Kallen, and publicist Fred Sternburg in the Non-Participant category; journalist Wallace Matthews and broadcaster Nick Charles (posthumous) in the Observer category; Luis Angel Firpo (posthumous) in the Old Timer category and Theresa Kibby (posthumous) in the women’s Trailblazer category.

The inductees will be formally enshrined during the annual Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. The 2024 event, a four-day jamboree, commences on Thursday, June 6.

The IBHOF is located at Exit 34 of the New York Thruway. Hours of operation are Monday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Biographies on the Class of 2024 can be found on www.ibhof.com

Fred Sternburg was previously honored with the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award by the Boxing Writers Association of America, an honor bestowed upon him in 2004. Rick Folstad interviewed Sternburg for a story that appeared on these pages in December of 2005.

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Ebanie Bridges Poised to Defend Her Title and Boost Her Brand in SanFran This Weekend

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Ebanie Bridges opposes late sub Miyo Yoshida on the undercard of Saturday’s Matchroom card in San Francisco featuring the WBC lightweight title fight between Regis Prograis and Devin Haney. It’s doubtful that Bridges vs. Yoshida will steal the show (Prograis vs Haney is a compelling match-up), but it’s a stone-cold lock that Bridges vs. Yoshida will steal the weigh-in. It goes at 1 pm Friday at the Chase Center and is open to the public.

This is all Bridges’ doing. She can fight more than a little, as Damon Runyon would have phrased it, but is best known for turning up at weigh-ins in lingerie so sexy that Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn averts his eyes to keep from blushing. Others can’t keep their eyes off the 37-year-old, well-endowed Australian and on Friday the paparazzi will crash the scene to capture images that will be all over the internet within hours.

This doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Former opponent Shannon Courtenay, who saddled Bridges (9-1, 4 KOs) with her only defeat, chastised her for selling their fight for the wrong reasons and disrespecting the sport. Her most recent opponent, Shannon O’Connell, called her a skank and other terms of derision unfit for a family newspaper.

Bridges stopped her in the eighth round in what is her most gratifying win to date. “She made it personal,” says Ebanie. “It felt good to make her eat her words.”

Bridges, who set a withering pace, was making the first defense of the IBF bantamweight title she won with a comprehensive 10-round decision over Argentina’s long-reigning Maria Cecilia Roman. Shannon O’Connell, a fellow Aussie, entered that bout on an 8-fight winning streak that included hard-earned decisions over Australian standouts Taylah Robertson and Cherneka Johnson.

So, although Bridges vs O’Connell was contested in Leeds, England, it was something of the culmination of an Australian round-robin tournament, and it would be Ebanie Bridges that emerged as the Queen Bee.

Bridges has a platform on Only Fans. Known for its “adult” content, the web site is also a place where B-list celebrities go to monetize their fan base by promising a closer look into their personal lives. For attractive female celebs, that usually means displaying more skin that can be found in generic publicity photos, but well short of hard-core. Current Only Fans performers include recording artist Cardi B, actress Denise Richards, the former spouse of Charlie Sheen, actress Drea de Matteo, best known for portraying Adriana on “The Sopranos,” former “Baywatch” sex symbol Carmen Electra, boxer Mikaela Mayer, and former Miss USA Shanna Moakler who shares a daughter with Oscar de la Hoya.

Women that profit from cheesecake, to use an old word for racy photos, aren’t known for having the brightest bulbs between their ears but Bridges, despite embracing her nickname, the Blonde Bomber, doesn’t fit the stereotype. She’s no bimbo.

Ms. Bridges has two college degrees, an undergraduate degree in math and a master’s in secondary education. In her spare time, she finds solace in playing the piano and in drawing, a skill that she inherited from her father, a painter and commercial artist.

In her drawings, she is partial to British soccer coaches and athletes, in particular boxers. Some of her photos are embedded in her smart phone. These, I can attest, are very good. There was no mistaking her drawing of Sugar Ray Robinson. It ranked right up there with Stanley Weston whose illustrations adorned the covers of 57 issues of The Ring magazine.

Bridges is her own best publicist. It’s an attribute she shares with UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

It comes as no surprise to learn that they are well-acquainted. Bridges and McGregor sat together at the first fight between Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron. She is a spokesperson for the latest product that McGregor is pushing, Forged Irish Stout, a brand of beer that debuted at the Black Forge Inn, the Dublin pub that McGregor owns.

“I love Conor,” she says, “he’s lovely,” a rather odd adjective to apply to a man who once attacked a bus with a metal barricade at a UFC media event in Brooklyn, injuring three people.

“He’s great for my brand,” says Bridges of McGregor, “and I’m great for his brand.”

Like it or not, this is the new world order. This reporter is old enough to remember when colleges and universities had football teams. Now they have football franchises, which isn’t quite the same. A franchise requires a well-oiled marketing department to enhance the value of the brand.

Bridges got her first crack at a world title (the WBA version held by Shannon Courtenay) after only five pro fights against opponents who were collectively 12-25-5. Her opponent on Saturday, Miyo Yoshida, sports a 16-4 record and is coming off a loss.

This is fodder for critics of female boxing but, make no mistake, Bridges would be a tough out for any female bantamweight in the world and she has paid her dues. She had 30 amateur fights after previously training in karate, kickboxing, and Muay Thai. (In fairness to Matchroom’s matchmaker, he salvaged Saturday’s date for her, securing Yoshida after three previous opponents fell out.)

Looking ahead to 2024, Bridges envisions fighting England’s Nina Hughes, the WBA belt-holder, and then Denmark’s Dina Thorslund who owns the other two meaningful pieces of the bantamweight title. A match with Thorslund (currently 20-0, 8 KOs) with all four belts on the line would be a blockbuster and, by then, should it transpire, the Blonde Bombshell would undoubtedly be one of the most well-known boxers in the world.

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