Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oscar De La Hoya Decides It's Better To Stay Retired

Sometimes you just need to think things over

On the occasions that I've actually spoken with Oscar De La Hoya, he's struck me as a serious person. Pleasant? Yes. Polite? Sure. But certainly a man with business on his mind, that being the business of promoting his Golden Boy Promotions to fight writers such as myself.

That's why I was a bit disheartened to learn recently that De La Hoya, an all time great of the sport of boxing, was planning on making a ring comeback. The whole thing simply didn't seem to jibe with the man I saw trying to stay sober and working hard to navigate Golden Boy Promotions through the Haymon era of boxing.

Needless to say, I'm now happy to read that De La Hoya has decided it's better to stay behind the scenes and in front of the cameras than it is to fight again. Ask yourself this - how many over the hill boxers have come back successfully? There's George Foreman, and...

The point is you can never say never when it comes to this sort of thing, but it's hard to imagine De La Hoya finding any kind of success similar to the type he had in his prime. On top of that, it's hard to erase the image of De La Hoya getting beaten senselessly by a human lawnmower named Manny Pacquiao.

De La Hoya is wise to stay right where he is. His talents are now far more needed outside the ring than inside it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Forbes Lists Mayweather And Pacquiao As World's Highest Paid Celebrities

And they say boxing is dead.

As if being the world's highest paid athletes isn't enough, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao may now celebrate the fact that they're also the highest paid celebrities on earth, as well. Sorry Katie Perry - you came in third on Forbes' list of the highest paid celebs. Oh, and One Direction? Let's just say you guys are several directions south of the famous fighters.

Mayweather, for the record, brought in $300 million dollars from May 2014 through May 2015 for a grand total of three boxing matches, earning himself the number one position on Forbes' list. Pacquiao brought in around $160 million dollars for a total of two boxing matches, earning himself the number two slot.

Honestly, we all knew Mayweather-Pacquiao would be big, but did any of us expect it to be THAT big? Seriously, these two have now easily out earned movie stars and the most famous musicians in the world.

Just to put things in perspective - the enormously popular Taylor Swift earned a grand total of half of what Pacquiao earned in the same twelve month period. And at $60 million, Ms. Swift earned herself a whole lot of money.

People may want to hold off writing those obituaries for the sport of boxing - at least for the time being.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why Tim Bradley Is His Own Worst Enemy

Once again, Tim Bradley proved on Saturday that he is indeed his own worst enemy. After looking nothing short of masterful against the lauded Jessie Vargas, Bradley was rocked by a thunderous shot at the end of the fight and nearly went down.

It looked like Bradley was going to survive the round, just like he had against Ruslan Provodnikov a few years earlier - but referee Pat Russell stopped the fight a few seconds too early, denying fans a legitimate answer to a burning question. This is no knock on Russell, by the way. I've never had problems with the ref and we all make mistakes. Regardless, Bradley ended up earning himself a unanimous decision victory.

He also proved - once again - that he's his own worst enemy. Believe it or not, Bradley is one of the most skilled fighters in the sport. Indeed, his mastery on Saturday was reminiscent of Floyd Mayweather. As Bradley himself admitted, however, he didn't listen to his corner at the end of the bout - and that's why he got nailed.

It seems as if it's now time to simply accept the fact that Bradley will never live up to his potential. Why? Because he just isn't disciplined enough to stick to a game plan. Over and over again, the guy abandons his strengths and relies on his inclinations. And the result is often disastrous. Don't believe it? Check out round twelve of last night's fight again - or any number of rounds in Bradley's fight against Ruslan Provodnikov.

Tim Bradley is, without doubt, one of my favorite fighters. I admire him both as a person and as an athlete. He may well make it to the Hall of Fame, and if he gets there, no one should complain. At the rate he's going, however, Bradley will forever leave fans wondering about what could have been.

And for the record, I'd rather see a more dominant, less fan friendly Bradley than the a Bradley who gets his head rattled unnecessarily throughout the course of his career. But that's just me.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why Brandon Rios Can Beat Kell Brook

Rios isn't some guy plucked off the street

So now that it looks like Brandon Rios may indeed get a title shot against the talented Kell Brook, it's safe to say people will consider it an entertaining, but none-too-serious matchup. Oh, fans will want to see the bout for its guaranteed entertainment value - but it's doubtful analysts will give Rios too much of a chance.

That's a mistake. While it's true Brook is a very impressive boxer, Rios has a style that could be all wrong for him. Brook, after all, has strength and fires off impressive shots. Rios, on the other hand, keeps coming. Always. What's more, he can fight on the inside, and can curve his shots effectively, That could prove problematic for the often straight shooting Brook. The Englishman's habit of standing upright could prove to be an issue for the IBF titleholder, as well.

Lastly, Rios looked completely rejuvenated when he walked right through arch rival Mike Alvarado earlier this year. Sure, Alvarado was well on the downslide, but that didn't take away the fact that Rios, under the tutelage of Robert Garcia, was sharp, mobile, mean and effective. Indeed it may be the change of outlook, the growth that comes from a tough stretch (which Rios most certainly had recently), that makes Rios appear to be a true threat to Brook in my mind.

On the other hand, I wouldn't write Brook off on this one. Not by a long shot. As I've brought up before, I was one of the few people stateside who had been sounding the alarm bells regarding the guy for a while before he took the welterweight strap from Shawn Porter last year. Brook is the real thing - a talented, determined pro with real style and focus. In short, he's well deserving of all the praise he's been getting on both sides of the Atlantic lately.

So, am I coming right out and saying Rios could beat Brook should the two meet in the near future? No. I'm simply saying I wouldn't be surprised if he did. Not for a minute. And that makes this potential matchup very interesting.

This is one I'm really hoping we'll get to see.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Errol Spence And The Great Boxing Hype Machine

Let's get something out of the way right here and now. Errol Spence is a talented dude. A really talented dude. Watching his match against Emmanuel Vargas with the sound off gives you some indication of just how skilled and nuanced a fighter the man truly is.

He's slick, powerful and fluid. He can hit hard and can get out of the way easily. Truly the man is a force to be reckoned with. If I'm not mistaken, Freddie Roach himself declared Spence to be a boxer on the rise. The fact that the sometimes prickly Roach doesn't train the Texan should tell you all you need to know here.

Yet I've become a bit wary of The Great Boxing Hype Machine lately, especially after seeing Adrien Broner drop another fight to another major opponent last Saturday. Remember when Broner was placed at the top of people's pound for pound lists? Me too. Again, I've become a bit wary of the Hype Machine, which now tells me Spence is the greatest thing since sliced bread and that talented rising stars like Keith Thurman had better beware.

Floyd Mayweather is a big supporter of Spence, after all. And since Floyd's been building up Spence lately, members of boxing's media have been very eager to cheerlead for the man. It's almost as if Floyd has decreed that Spence is the future of boxing and therefore it is so.

Yet while it's true Spence may indeed be the future, I can't shake memories of the Hype Machine's ballyhoo of Broner not so long ago. Or of a whole lot of other fighters before him. Spence may be terrific, but I'm still going to hold off before joining the canonization parade. I'm not a cynic, just a realist who knows that the Hype Machine is capable of getting carried away at times. Besides, Spence doesn't need me cheering him on. He's doing just fine as it is so far.

He also seems to be nicer than Broner.

That's got to count for something.  

It's Still Floyd Mayweather's World

Yup, the "Fight of the Century" just ended and people are already talking obsessively about Floyd Mayweather's next opponent. This makes sense, of course, since Mayweather is supposed to fight in September (although it's doubtful Showtime - who Floyd has a contract with - would care if Mayweather decided to fight later). One has to wonder, though, what will happen when Mayweather finally is out of the picture. It's going to happen, after all, whether Floyd retires or overstays his welcome.

Indeed, Mayweather is absolutely, positively a one man show when it comes to the sport of boxing right now. No one - no one at all - can reach across the margins and grab hold of casual fans like Floyd can. What's more, it doesn't look like anyone will be able to so in the near future, either. And that's not good for boxing.

Think about it - by the end of the Hagler-Leonard-Hearns era, Mike Tyson was already established as a household name and international star. Same goes for Oscar De La Hoya at the end of the Tyson era. Who's out there to take the reins from Mayweather, though? Canelo Alvarez? GGG? Maybe - but those dudes have a long way to go before they're ready to become names that non-boxing fans are familiar with.

At least some of this might have to do with Mayweather himself, truth be told. He's a marketing genius, after all. Seriously.  The fact that he has no major endorsement contracts and has a serious criminal record to his name only adds to the unlikeliness of his triumph. Consider this - Floyd's the highest paid athlete in the world  and a household name - despite all the odds that would indicate otherwise. That's the very definition of success.

And part of Mayweather's success may stem from the fact that he lets it be known over and over and over again that he's the biggest show in town. Tyson was deferential to the greats of the past. Floyd says he's better than them. Such hubris can have an effect and that effect might well be people believing no one else is worthy of the spotlight. Manny Pacquiao was the exception, but Mayweather bested him...and now there's no one else.

And, again, that's something of a problem.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why Tim Bradley Is Unappreciated

People are strange. You don't have to have to be a Jim Morrison fan to realize that. If you want to see just how odd people can be, take a look at boxing fans. We endlessly discuss, philosophize and guess at the future of someone like Adrien Broner, a fighter of questionable skill and character, yet yawn and roll our eyes every time Tim Bradley is mentioned.

Why is that? Would anyone for a single minute think Broner could best Bradley in the ring at this point? Would anyone for a single SECOND prefer to have their kids emulate the likes of Broner over the likes of Bradley, a hard working and devoted parent? What exactly is it about us that we'd rather give more of our time to Broner than to Bradley? This is a sincere question, by the way, not an act of finger pointing.

I'm sure it all has something to do with human nature. There's an allure to the darkness, after all. It's why movies like "Goodfellas" are so timeless. It's why Billy the Kid nearly got a pardon well over a century after murdering a New Mexico lawman. It's why bad boys "get all the love."

In the end, however, it's the bad boys that generally crash hard. Or in the case of Broner, keep crashing hard (is he ever going to win another major fight at the rate he's going?). Guys like Bradley, on the other hand, keep striving, keep challenging themselves, and keep succeeding.

So, is there any chance at all that Bradley will be get the adulation of fans without becoming a complete jerk in the process? Indeed there is, but I don't think Bradley should take it. For the way to work his way into the hearts of contemporary fans is for Bradley to become a warrior rather than the craftsman he should be.

Bradley tried the warrior bit with Provodnikov, remember?  Sure, people started admiring the guy, but he risked doing serious damage to himself. Think those admiring fans would care if Bradley had ended up being seriously hurt? Bradley is at his best when he fights like he did against Marquez. The fans may not like it, but it gives him success.

And success, in the end, is what will secure Bradley's legacy - with or without the love of the public.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Shawn Porter - Not Adrien Broner - Deserves Everyone's Attention

Once again, Adrien Broner stole the spotlight on Saturday evening. All eyes were on him - on his flash, his arrogance, his breathtaking self confidence. The following day, Sunday, the boxing press couldn't stop talking, and writing about the man. What did Saturday's ring performance mean for  Broner? Where would the popular fighter go from here? Make no mistake about it, Adrien Broner owned the weekend.

Sure, he also happened to have gotten soundly beaten at the hands of Shawn Porter in front of a live internationally televised audience, but no matter. This was Broner, after all, the guy who after the fight claimed he'd take Porter's girl out to dinner, as if that same Porter hadn't just repeatedly punched him in the face and made him look scared mere minutes earlier.

Broner, in case you haven't guessed it, is cool. And when you're as cool as Broner, it doesn't matter if you win or lose, you will still be the center of attention - so much so that you can continue to mockingly dismiss your bettors, even after they've made you look like an ass in front of millions. Why? Because you know that people will want more.

The question now, of course, is how many people will want more of Broner after Saturday. Let's face it - boxing writers and fans can be a rather mean spirited bunch. There's a tendency among their ranks to think one person demeaning another person is pretty funny stuff. They may think Broner's a joke, but they're amused by him. So boxing's public will probably continue to watch and show interest in the individual known as "The Problem."

It's questionable, however, whether or not most sports fans will get the joke. The NFL, for instance, may not be a bastion of morality, but it's hard to imagine a player with Broner's behavior and attitude getting the pass from football's media and fan base the way Broner does with boxing's.

That's not good news for the people who want to bring "the sweet science" back to the general public. The good news, of course, is that Porter was the real winner on Saturday - nice, humble, tough as nails Porter. Boxing's public may, by and large, tolerate Broner - or even like him in many cases - but the future popularity of the sport may actually rest with fighters like Porter - the nice guy who can beat up the bully.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Adrien Broner Is Not A Nice Guy - But That's His Problem

Don't be surprised if Adrien Broner wins tonight. I know you hope he loses, but things have been arranged in the weight department so that Broner is apt to emerge victorious. You also shouldn't be surprised if Broner, after getting a decision win, takes the opportunity to publicly humiliate Shawn Porter and his family. Adrien Broner, after all, is not a nice guy.

That's not to say he's a bad person. I think there's a fine line between being what Porter's dad rightfully calls an "a--hole" and someone with who, say, displays genuine satisfaction or indifference upon ruining lives.

Still, you're not judgmental for realizing Broner isn't nice. You're just someone who doesn't close his or her eyes to the truth. Nice people don't act like Broner does publicly. It's just not an act when you engage in the same behavior over and over again.

It's also pointless to let such behavior get under your skin. Porter himself will tell you that. So will Marcos Maidana, who coolly let Broner behave like a complete jerk before giving the Cincinnati native a beatdown in a Texas ring late in 2013.

Broner didn't learn his lesson then and he probably won't learn it if Porter manages to pull off a victory on Saturday night. Again, though, it's pointless for fans to let the guy get under their skin.
For I'm guessing that Broner's ability to annoy is potentially now his biggest financial asset.

Maidana showed the world just how overrated the guy was and Broner hasn't really impressed since that time. Throw in the weight nonsense leading up to this fight with Porter and it's easy to see how Broner might be becoming a member of boxing's protected class.

A lot of money can be made from people wanting to see Broner lose, after all. Unlike Mayweather, however, there's a pretty good chance Broner CAN lose (again), so precautions might have to be taken if the goal is to cash in on the man's vitriol rather than on his boxing ability.

I suspect, however, that fans will only take so much before tuning out "The A.B. Show." Floyd can be brash but he can back it up. If Broner can't, well, that's his problem. No pun intended.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Why Boxing Is A Sport First, Entertainment And A Business Second

Know why people have a bug up their you know whats about boxing? Because it forgets that it's a sport. How many times do we have to hear that "boxing is a business" or that a fighter doesn't deserve big fights because he doesn't "entertain the fans?"

Can you imagine a pitcher in the major leagues being told he has to give up more hits because batters, not pitchers, bring in the fans? Or how about a pitcher being told he could only thrown straight down the middle against certain batters? Everyone would roll their eyes and shake their heads.

Just like everyone rolls their eyes and shakes their heads at boxing.

People are up in arms over Adrien Broner getting preferential treatment over Shawn Porter, but that's only the most obvious case of sportsmanship coming in second to market demands recently. Promoters have to start asking themselves what's best for business - catering to market tested fighters, like Broner, Cotto and Garcia - or creating a healthy sport where the general public knows there's a level playing field for athletes to try to succeed on.

Someone like Erislandy Lara, for instance, may not be a fan favorite. Indeed, ratings might slump if he were to be a dominant fighter in the public eye. Lara wouldn't be around forever, though. What's more, it's obvious the guy is beatable as it is. All fighters are.

I argue that the long term economic health and popularity of the sport would be better served by letting people like Lara organically rise as high as they can. No ducking. No catchweights. No excuses of  "he's boring." If athletic prowess were to be the single determining factor in boxing, the sport would regain respect.

And respect would lead to higher viewership and revenue. Believe it. Not every fighter can be a Mike Tyson or a Sugar Ray Leonard. But everyone knows that. Adrien Broner, for instance, may bring in eyeballs and coin, but he'd bring in a lot more of both if people felt he could back up his mouth with skill.

And right now they don't know that. And that's why Broner is must see for boxing fans this weekend, but not sport's fans in general.

Things simply don't have to be this way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why The PBC Is Good - And Bad - For Boxing

It's good to have boxing back on network television

First, off, let's not get out of control. Premiere Boxing Champions is not a disaster. Nor is it something to cynically roll our collective eyes at. In fact, the ratings for PBC have been quite sound. What's more, the entire affair has shaken up the boxing world a bit. That's quite a feat in this extremely eventful 2015. On the other hand there are indeed things about PBC which are to be feared or at least looked at warily. Let's start off, though, with the good stuff.

Let's face it, the fact that boxing is back on mainstream American television is a big, big thing. By mainstream, by the way, I mean major network broadcasts. NBC, CBS, ESPN (as opposed to ESPN2), these are enormous, high end channels, and boxing is now appearing on these channels - sometimes in primetime. That's about as big a story you can get this side of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

What's more, PBC has been showing some good fights, No, they haven't all be great, but people need to give it a rest. PBC is aired on what seems like a thousand different channels. Not everything warrants a party at the house. The big fights, however, have been pretty big. Matchups like Thurman-Guerrero, Garcia-Peterson and Porter-Broner are far better than a lot of the stuff HBO and Showtime has aired over the past several years. So let's appreciate what we have here.

Still, there's something ominous about PBC. That's just hard to deny, It seems to be a kind of modern day PacMan, a multi-network program that eats up time slot after time slot across the television spectrum. Behind the scenes guru Al Haymon seems to perhaps be making not so much a monopoly here, as he is the only notable show in town. In other words, boxers who aren't with Haymon and/or PBC might actually be considered second rate if things keep going like they are.

When you consider the fact that Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko, Miguel Cotto, Terrence Crawford and others aren't a part of Haymon's lineup you can argue that such an outlook would be faulty at best, harmful to the sport, at worst. Haymon fighters, for instance, sometimes have reputations of being protected. Leo Santa Cruz, Adonis Stevenson, Danny Garcia, and now Carl Frampton may well stand accused these days of  taking the easy way out, career wise.

Do boxing fans really want most or all top fights to be tune ups for major fighters? This boxing fan doesn't. And that's another reason why PBC is as worthy of a curled brow as it is thunderous applause.

Is there more to like than not about Premiere Boxing Champions? Of course. PBC's seeming lack of interest in things like title belts and weight limits, however, should send out a few warning signals to people. Here, such things seem to say, is a new way of doing things, a way unconcerned with the old order. That, boxing fans, is a bold philosophy..but it's an unsettling one, as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Five Reasons Shawn Porter Might Beat Adrien Broner

Okay, yesterday we discussed the five reasons why Adrien Broner might best Shawn Porter on Saturday. Now it's time to turn the tables. As most everyone who follows the sport closely knows, this fight is a tough one to call - both fighters seemingly being equally matched. We'll just have to see how it all plays out this weekend.

Until then, though, you can sit back, take a look at this list, and feel free to let me know what you think.

  1. Broner may have a real problem with aggressive opponents: All you have to do is say the name Marcos Maidana and images of an overwhelmed Adrien Broner start dancing in people's heads. Admit it, Broner didn't know what to do with the Argentine wrecking machine that night close to a year and a half ago. And if he faces the Porter who blasted Paulie Malignaggi, Broner may not know what to do with him, either. 
  2. Porter is a dedicated craftsman: Let's face it, Broner has more on his mind than just boxing. He sees himself as a hip-hop bad boy as well as a top fighter. Such a mindset has bit the man on the you-know-what before. Who's to say it won't happen again, especially against a guy with such dedication to his craft as Porter?
  3.  They made this fight at a catchweight for a reason: The fact that this fight is at a catchweight says a lot. It's not to benefit Porter, that's for sure. It most certainly benefits Broner, however. Why is that? What is it about Porter that has brought about this development? And what will happen if the weight loss doesn't harm Porter's performance? 
  4. Porter is of sound mind: Sure, Broner tamped his obnoxious act down a bit, but the man still has the ability to get in opponent's heads. Porter, however, doesn't seem to get fazed by much of anything. He just keeps smiling. Attitude and frame of mind are a big part of the fight game, and Porter seems to excel on both counts. 
  5. Broner hasn't looked that great in a while: Never mind the loss to Maidana, Broner's last two bouts weren't exactly highlight reel material, either. For a man who was once considered a top pound for pound fighter, Broner's looked anything but sensational for a long time now.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Five Reasons Why Adrien Broner Might Beat Shawn Porter

We've got ourselves a good one this coming weekend, gang. Adrien Broner is going to be facing Shawn Porter live on NBCs PBC card this Saturday evening in Vegas. This is the sort of fight the fans were hoping for when the PBC was first announced last winter. Indeed, there's a lot to like about this one, especially the fact that it's hard to decide beforehand who will actually win.

This article is going to focus on the five reasons I think Broner might pull this off. Don't get mad, Porter fans. My next piece will be on the five reasons I think Shawn Porter might pull this off. For now, though, the focus is on Adrien. Enjoy.

  1. The Weight : Porter is a true welterweight. Yet for this fight he has to go down to 144. That bodes well for "The Problem." Fighters can get drained - really drained - when they have to lose more weight for a bout than they probably should. And when they get drained, they're apt to become less effective.
  2. Broner Can Get In Your Head :  Although this version of Broner is a bit watered down for basic cable, it's good to keep in mind that the guy has the ability to really rub people the wrong way. Don't think that can effect an opponent? Check out the career of Ali. The man's mouth was one of his greatest weapons.
  3. Porter Hasn't Looked Good In A While : Let's face it, Porter hasn't been all that impressive since he destroyed Paulie Malignaggi a while back. Has he stepped down a peg in the ability department? Did Kell Brook take something out of him? Most importantly, is Porter asking himself these same questions? 
  4. Broner May Be More Marketable: I have a bad feeling that the powers that be see Broner as being a more marketable fighter than Porter and that it's coming into play here. The catchweight, for instance, benefits Broner, not Porter. Also, the fact that the fight is in Vegas, instead of Ohio, where both men are from, might be indicative of something. The king of Vegas, after all, is Broner's buddy, Floyd Mayweather. I'm not saying anyone will be bought out. I'm simply wondering aloud if the popular kid will get preferential treatment over the quiet kid. 
  5. Broner Is Said To Be Taking This One Seriously: Okay, it's no secret that Broner hasn't been the most dedicated practitioner of the sport of boxing. The videos, the party tour, the lack of determination. They've proven to been a problem for "The Problem's" reputation. This time, however, word is coming out that Broner is training like a monster. That's something worth noting - because, say what you will, Broner's a talented dude. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

After Losing His Title On The Scales, Nicholas Walters Wins A Snooze Fest

The World's Greatest Cat Called It A Night After The Sixth

So yeah, people we disappointed in Nicholas Walters on Friday. After all, he gave up his super featherweight title, not by knockout or decision, but by not making weight. For a man a lot of people recently had a lot of faith in, Walters had a lot of making up to do.

Walter's opponent, Miguel Marriaga, was - like Walters - an undefeated puncher with a high knockout ratio. It looked like that, no matter what else had happened leading up to it, the match would be a sound, exciting one.

How wrong those of us were who claimed this was going to be an entertaining affair were. Man, what a dud. Walters dominated from soup to nuts. He was bigger, stronger and sharper. He also played it safe. That was understandable, I guess, but it made for a sluggish affair.

The fact that Walters came into the ring weighing about as much as a fight-ready Floyd Mayweather didn't hurt his performance, either. Something just rubbed me the wrong way about the whole thing - and I like Walters. Even now I do.

But the man has to come across as more of a pro from here on in.

Felix Verdejo Doesn't Disappoint

Will the man on the street soon know who Verdejo is?

Felix Verdejo was highly hyped leading up to Saturday's fight against Ivan Najera and with good reason. For the Puerto Rican junior lightweight looked good, really, really good leading up to the fight. Heck, the guy could drop guys going backward, a la Sugar Ray Robinson. If that wasn't something to get excited about, what was?

Round one was about feeling his opponent out for Verdejo. To his credit, however, Najera was aggressive. And he stayed aggressive at the start of the second. Verdejo, however, responded in kind, going on the attack himself. Things were getting exciting.

By the third, Verdejo's reach was clearly becoming a factor. It was simply hard for Najera, to get through that job.  A great right in the last few seconds of the round looked like it might be a portent of things to come.

Najera was able to land on his man in the third. Needless to say, the up and comer.  was out for blood afterwards. For Verdejo started nailing Najera with hard, clean shots. By the end of the round, though it was clear Najera could take some serious blows - and could still be aggressive.

Still, the round was Verdejo's. As was the fourth.

A left in the fifth put Najera down. He got up and was met with a Verdejo onslaught. Yet he survived, something most probably didn't expect. One noticeable flaw of the impressive Verdejo became clear - he gets wild at times.

Ironically enough, he seemed to take the sixth off. Oh, he most likely did enough to win it, but he wasn't particularly aggressive. Najera came on strong in the last minute of the seventh, but he just didn't have the arsenal to make a real impact. Indeed, he was down again at the end of the round.

By the end of the eighth, Najera was taking such a beating that it seemed like the fight had gone on just as long as it needed to. Najera kept brawling, however, and so the fight continued. No matter. Two rounds later Verdejo had wrapped things up. Verdejo had previously let his corner know that he had hurt his hand, so a knockout was out of the question.

As for Najera, he proved to be a true warrior. He even managed to rock Verdejo at the end of the bout. Najera may, however, want to find himself a new team. His chaotic corner did him no favors on Saturday.

Four Great Boxers Who Knew When It Was Time To Stop Fighting

One of the saddest aspects of boxing is that way, way too many fighters drag their careers on far longer than they should. Whether they're driven by need or ambition, these individuals end up littering the landscape with tales of warning which all too few heed. There are exceptions, however. The following four men knew when it was time to pack it in - and for that, they deserve notice.

Michael Spinks: Perhaps the greatest light heavyweight in boxing history, Spinks went on to keep Larry Holmes from tying Rocky Maricano's record by winning the heavyweight title in 1985. After winning over Holmes again - albeit controversially - Spinks earned a notable victory over hard hitting Gerry Cooney in '87.

Then came Mike Tyson.

The two met in '88 to decide for good and all who the TRUE heavyweight champion was. In less than a single round, it was clear that man was Iron Mike. After his crushing defeat at the gloves of Tyson, Spinks walked away from the sport - and with good reason. What was there left to prove?

Marvelous Marvin Hagler: Hagler was THE MAN at middleweight - a true warrior with a true skill set who came up the hard way. His rule in the 80's was legendary. Hagler won what may well have been the greatest fight ever by knocking out Tommy Hearns in the third round in '85. He then went on to KO John Mugabi in an absolute war the following year.

Sensing the time was right to strike, Ray Leonard challenged the aging Hagler in '87. Although soundly favored, Hagler nonetheless lost one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. Realizing tough guys can't catch a break when facing pop culture icons, Hagler retired rather than engaging in a rematch with Leonard, his reputation, money and health in tack.

Wise move.

Rocky Marciano: Probably the most famous undefeated pug in history, Marciano is unique for retiring while on top. A champ who met and bested all comers, including the amazing Joe Walcott and a way over the hill Joe Louis, Marciano wisely packed it in after winning a brawl with the great Archie Moore (it's my personal all time favorite fight after Hagler-Hearns).

He may have died too young in a plane crash, but Maricano died a legend, not just in the world of boxing, but in the entire world of sports. Talk about leaving a legacy.

George Foreman: I know what you're thinking - Big George doesn't belong here. Ah, but he does! After getting beaten by Jimmy Young in '77, Foreman found God and stopped fighting. When he came back, ten full years later in '87, many laughed. Foreman was a different man than before, though: happy, God fearing, likable...and in possession of a jab that could set up his still potent power punches.

You know the rest of the story. Against all reason, Foreman managed to regain the heavyweight title by besting Michael Moorer in '94 - a full twenty years after he lost it to Muhammad Ali in Zaire. Foreman stopped boxing in '97, a legit legend and wildly successful corporate spokesman.

Ask yourself this - would this story have had such a happy ending if Foreman had decided to keep right on fighting after the loss to Jimmy Young all those years ago?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cotto-Alvarez: A Superfight Exclusively For Boxing Fans

Cotto can still bring in the pay per view buys

We all remember May 2nd, and the weeks, and months, and years leading up to it. Let's face it, fight fans, that bout really wasn't all about us. It was about people who generally aren't into boxing. It was about lots of money and lots of publicity for a sport that is supposedly dying (never mind the fact that it packs European stadiums and gets more viewers in China than the Super Bowl does in the United States).

That's why most boxing writers weren't allowed ringside for Mayweather-Pacquiao. It was also why Bob Arum pretty much came right out and said just before that weekend that most boxing writers were  irrelevant. He was right, too. They were irrelevant. WE were irrelevant.

Again, Mayweather-Pacquiao wasn't about those of us who truly relish the sport. The powers that be made that loud and clear. They also made it loud and clear that we could pretty much go fuck ourselves if we didn't like it.

Before you get too put off reading this, however, you need to keep in mind that Mayweather-Pacquiao truly was a once in a generation experience. It ain't gonna happen like that again, folks. People are on to the sleight of hand that was pulled on them...which means those of us who actually care about the sport are suddenly important again.

That's why the Cotto-Alvarez bout that's all but certain to go down later this years is such a crowd pleaser. Those fickle powers that be can't afford to turn off boxing's ardent fans any more if they hope to keep cashing in via pay per view. No one in suburban America, generally speaking, knows or cares who Canelo or Cotto are, unless - you guessed it - they happen to be die hard fight fans.

It's simple math folks, and the equation is now in our favor. Mexican, Puerter Rican, African American and white fan bases have to be catered to. The general public at large is pissed off because it felt it was robbed on May 2nd. It will be a while before it returns en masse to a single boxing event on pay per view (though we all know it will eventually return - it always does, after all).

Until that time, however, we can rest assured that the fights which will be presented for a fee will be legitimate pay per view events - at least that will be the case if those behind the fights aren't totally clueless. So sit back and enjoy Cotto-Alvarez when it eventually comes around.

Just don't let the bastards charge you three figures for it.

Weekend Predictions - The Nicholas Walters, Slim Fast Edition!

New York will play host to Walters-Marriaga

Well, it's Friday. That means it's time for Weekend Predictions. As always, we cannot predict every fight in the exceedingly wide world of this sport. We can, however, predict some of the big ones. Enjoy.

Artur Beterbiev (8-0) v Alexander Johnson (16-2): I've got to go with Beterbiev on this PBC bout that's being broadcast Friday on Spike TV. He may have only fought eight times, but all of his fights have been won by way of knockout. What's more, he's bested big names like Gabriel Campillo and Travoris Cloud. Johnson, on the other hand, only has seven KOs to his name, which tells me he won't be strong enough to hold the up and comer off.

Erislandy Lara (20-2-2) v Delvin Rodriguez (28-7-4): This main event of the Spike card is for the WBA junior middleweight title. I expect Lara to best my fellow Connecticut native in a fight which might be more interesting than many may think (remember, I'm the guy who said the same about Khan-Algieri). This is likely Rodriguez' last chance at glory and he's going to make the most of it. Still, I don't see him being able to best Lara's skill set. Lara can continue to be ignored, but for how long?

 Nicholas Walters (25-0) v Miguel Marriaga (20-0): I was as surprised as everyone else to learn Walters had his WBA super featherweight belt taken away because he couldn't make weight for this one, which will be aired Saturday on HBO. Still, I think the "Axe Man" will walk away with the win. Marriaga has a whole lot of KOs on his resume, but so does Walters. Plus, Walters has faced better competition.

Felix Verdejo (17-0) v Ivan Najera (16-0): On the same HBO card as Walters-Marriaga, rising star Felix Verdejo will be putting his ring flair to the test against Najera in a lightweight bout. In a world of hype, Verdejo appears to be the real thing. Who do I think is going to win this one? Let me put it this way - Verdejo can drop opponents while going backwards. How many fighters do you know who could have the  same said of them?

Deontay Wilder (33-0) v Eric Molina (23-2)
Showtime is airing a card of its own on Saturday, the main event being Deontay Wilder showcasing his skill and power against a fighter no one's heard of. At least that's how it looks on the surface of things. While anything can happen in boxing, it might be telling that WBC heavyweight champ Wilder is facing a guy who was knocked out by Chris Arreola instead of facing Arreola himself. Barring any surprises, Wilder will win this one, no problem.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Question Of The Week - Why Do Haymon Fighters Tend To Disappoint Fans?

What do Leo Santa Cruz, Danny Garcia and Adonis Stevenson have in common - aside from the fact that each one is an "Al Haymon fighter?" If you answered each one has disappointed fans lately, you'd be exactly right. The question, of course, is why? Does it all have to do with their mysterious adviser, Haymon?

It's hard to say with any certainty. Floyd Mayweather is a Haymon fighter, after all, and he finally silenced the (reasonable) critics by agreeing to face Manny Pacquiao. Keith Thurman, too, is a Haymon fighter, but he comes across as someone who's chomping at the bit to face major competition.

On the other hand, De La Cruz has been maddening in his avoidance of the talented Guillermo Rigondeaux, Stevenson has been maddening in his avoidance of Sergey Kovalev and Danny Garcia has been maddening in his overall lineup of less than stellar opposition. So what gives? You can say you do things "for the fans" until you're blue in the face, but if you're not actually pleasing those fans, you're going to get called out for it.

Not so long ago I was informed (by who escapes me) that Haymon does what his fighters want him to do. In other words, if a Haymon fighter wants to risk it all in a dangerous fight, Haymon will work to make that fight happen. On the other hand, if a fighter wants to play it safe and take the easy way out, Haymon will work to make that happen, too.

If that's the truth, then Haymon has nothing to do with these fighters disappointing the fans, other than simply granting his boxers their wishes. If it's not true, however, then perhaps ("perhaps" being the operative word here) Haymon does indeed have something to do with with the less than stellar recent resumes of these men. Either way, when all is said and done, it's Santa Cruz, Garcia and Stevenson who have to answer to the boxing public.

Or not.

It's up to them, really. In at least one sense, they can do with their reputations what they please.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Five Guys Who Stand A Chance Of Beating Gennady Golovkin

Yes - he's a monster. No one is denying that fact. Indeed, Gennady Golovkin may be the most ferocious hitter to step onto the middleweight stage since John "The Beast" Mugabi. Unlike Mugabi, however, Golovkin is being hailed as a master craftsman as well as a master hitter. Truth be told, Golovkin is currently being mentioned alongside names like Marvelous Marvin Hagler's...and perhaps for good reason.

No man, however, is invincible - and Golovkin is no exception. The following men can all arguably face Golovkin in the future (though most aren't even considered middleweights at the moment). This isn't to say that any or all of these guys WILL best Golovkin in the future, mind you, only that their chances against GGG are better than most.

Saul Canelo Alvarez: Get thoughts of his loss to Mayweather two years back completely out of your head. Alvarez is a skilled, hard hitting, top competitor. Yeah, James Kirkland was custom made for for the guy, but Alvarez hit with such accuracy that you couldn't help but wonder how he'd do against the punch-susceptible Golovkin.

Carl Froch: The legendary English super middleweight is on the verge of retirement. There's been word that he's willing to face Golovkin, but I find that somewhat doubtful. If the two ever were to face off, however, it would be interesting. For Froch is not only naturally bigger than Golovkin, he's an awkward pro who knows how to turn out the lights. Just ask George Groves.

Erislandy Lara: Sure, people don't like Lara's style, but that style is top notch, regardless. The man knows how to slick his way to a victory, that's for sure. Although Golovkin appears to be impervious to smooth styles, it would be quite a feat for him to catch the slippery Lara. Would he be able to, though?

Andre Ward: You just knew this name was coming. The second best fighter in the world, behind Floyd Mayweather and no one else, presents an Olympian challenge to anyone, even the seemingly great Golovkin. Want to see how Ward handles top level opposition? Check out how easily he handled Carl Froch.

Miguel Cotto: Sorry, but I just don't see the Puerto Rican legend being easy work for Golovkin. The man is just too masterful with his combination of ring movement, punching and defense. Even without a catch weight, I think Cotto is formidable...and Cotto's made it clear he won't fight at middleweight without a catchweight.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Four Old Time Fighters Who Would Do Well Today

Here's the truth - most of those old time great fighters wouldn't hold up well in today's ring world. That's no knock on those guys, by the way. The sport has simply evolved, after all. It's built up on the foundation laid out by those all time legends. In other words, if it weren't for Jim Corbett and John L Sullivan, there'd probably be no Floyd Mayweather and Deontay Wilder today.

With that in mind, though, the vast majority of pugs from the pre-Ali era simply wouldn't cut it in the modern era. There are exceptions to every rule, however. The following is a list of well known fighters of yore who I personally believe would function well today. They might not become champions, but it's possible to see each of these men as top contenders in the here and now. And that's saying something.

Jack Johnson: Here was a guy, friends, who was ahead of his time in more ways than one. For starters, he was a defensive genius who could hit hard. Watch some of the old footage if you don't believe me. Think Mayweather knows how to tie people up? Check out Johnson. At his best, Johnson was a guy who could simply frustrate and wear his foe down before polishing him off. Sound modern enough for you?

Gene Tunney: Another defensive genius. The former heavyweight champ is mainly known as the guy who Jack Dempsey nearly won back the title from. There was a lot more to Tunney than that, however. Here was a fighter who obsessively honed his craft. Sure, he'd let you go nuts trying to catch him, but Tunney could also hit. Don't believe it? The dude had over forty knockouts before facing Dempsey the first time.

Joe Louis: YouTube is an amazing gift for boxing fans. Want to see what all the hype over Louis is about? Get online and watch a few of his fights. Not only could this almost frightening puncher take out tough guys like Max Baer, he could take out ring masters like Max Schmelling and frustrating slicksters like Billy Conn, as well. The man was the real thing - and he'd be a threat in any era.

Ray Robinson: I know, I know, he overlapped into Ali's career, but no matter. We all know Robinson was an "old time" fighter and we all know he'd be terrific today. Out of all the others on this list, Robinson would have the best chance of holding a belt in the here and now (a major belt). Here was a man, after all, who would look as sharp in the fifteenth round as he would in the first (if that's an exaggeration, it's only a slight one) and who won forty straight fights before his first loss (to Jake LaMotta, who was between ten and twenty pounds heavier). Not a fighter to take lightly in any era.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Week Ahead - Staring Nicholas Walters

There's going to be some bright fights in the big city this weekend

The week ahead should prove to be an interesting one. We've got one major bout on our hands, one highly under-rated bout and one showcase featuring a rising star, among others. Of course we're not going to cover all the fights coming up this week - boxing's a vast and international sport, after all. We are, however, going to be taking a glimpse at the major ones.

First up is the next PBC card, which will be aired on Spike TV this Friday night live from the UIC Pavillion in Chicago. Artur Bieterbev will be facing Alexander Johnson in a light heavyweight scrap. With an 8-0 record, Bieterbev is someone Adonis Stevenson may want to keep an eye on. The fact that the man has won each of his fights by destructive knockout and is now clearly being fast tracked for success means Stevenson may want to be wary, as well.

The main event of the evening will feature the unnecessarily unpopular Erislandy Lara, a walking, talking, junior middleweight skill set. Lara's opponent will be Delvin Rodriguez, my fellow Connecticut native whose had a tough go of it in the ring lately. This is arguably a showcase fight for Lara, but I think that's fine. After all, his last opponents have had names like Smith, Alvarez, Angulo and Trout. Cut the poor guy some slack, people!! He's a talented dude.

Saturday should prove interesting as HBO and Showtime will both be broadcasting cards on their respective networks, cards which are sure to overlap. Showtime is hoping it's main event will draw some eyeballs. It focuses on knockout king (and partial heavyweight title holder) Deontay Wilder as he takes his championship belt home to the Bartow Arena in Alabama to face to Eric Molina, a fighter who, let's face it, no one is giving much of a chance to.

Needless to say, the event is a slap on the shoulder showcase bout if ever there was one. Also on the card that night in Birmingham will be undefeated featherweight Jose Pedraza, who will be squaring off against Russia's Andre Kilmov for IBF World super featherweight title. Truth be told, this isn't a bad card, it's just up against some serious competition.

And that competition features Nicholas Walters, the hard hitting 25-0 World super featherweight champ of the WBA (I know, I know, the organizations and titles can be confusing). Walters is something to behold, a power punching action fighter who carries a large wooden axe into the ring.

Yet Walters opponent this Saturday at Madison Square Garden is no mere tuneup. For Colombia's Miguel Marriaga boasts a record of 20-0...with 18 knockouts to his credit. With a huge potential fight with Vasyl Lomachenko on the horizon for the winner, fireworks can be expected on HBO this weekend.

But the card doesn't end there. Rising Puerto Rican star Felix Verdejo will also be on had to fight Ivan Najera in a super lightweight throwdown. It's being implied that Verdejo is being groomed to be one of Top Rank promotions big stars, so the man is definitely worth a look.  

Miguel Cotto Is Better Than You Think

He's not a real middleweight.
His opponents are second-rate or over the hill.
The other big names out there are going to destroy the guy.

Heard all this before? Thought so. Seems like the consensus among fight fans is that Miguel Cotto simply isn't all that these days. Guess what? The consensus is wrong. Cotto is good. Real good. Great, actually.

Look, I don't like the fact that the man makes opponents meet him at a catch weight - especially when those opponents are clearly more comfortable at higher weights. But it doesn't really matter. Cotto is simply better than most of them no matter what weight they fight at.

Seriously, was Daniel Geale ever going to beat Miguel Cotto last Saturday in Brooklyn? Not the way Cotto's been looking since he teamed with Freddie Roach, we wouldn't have. It may seem strange to have a guy as stoic as Cotto gushing over Roach like he does, but facts are facts - Roach has given Cotto a second career.

And sorry, but I don't exactly see that career ending or fading away any time soon. No doubt about it, Canelo and Golovkin are formidable, FRIGHTENING adversaries. But Cotto is a proven commodity, folks. What's more, I think he looks better than he has in forever right now. Perhaps he looks as good as he ever has, period.

What's so impressive about Cotto is the fact that he's a COMPLETE fighter. Both his offense and his largely unheralded defense are amazing. Before hopping on the bandwagon, imagine Canelo and GGG in the ring with the Miguel Cotto of last Saturday night. Then ask yourself what their chances really are.

While it's true that Canelo and GGG present real challenges for Cotto, it's worth noting that he presents a real challenge for both of them, as well. It simply doesn't make sense to believe otherwise.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up - The Miguel Cotto Edition

And so another boxing weekend has come and gone. Truth be told, there were no big surprises - but there almost was.

Aaron Martinez knocked down -  and some even suspect outright beat - heavy favorite Robert Guerrero in what was supposed to be a tuneup bout. Whether Guerrero just slacked on this one, is seriously in decline, or just so happened to face a pit bull coming into his won is anyone's guess.

What is certain, however, is that the PBC broadcast, which aired on NBC, got itself some impressive ratings. Take that - those of you who gleefully claimed (yet again) that boxing was dead after the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. The fact that Vic Darchinyan went out in style against Jesus Cuellar in their featherweight title bout afterwards didn't hurt matters, either.

Still, NBCs card was merely the preamble to the weekends's big matchup, the lineal middleweight championship showdown between titlist Miguel Cotto and Daniel Geale on HBO. Truth be told, there was a lot of talk leading up to this one.

First, the talk was about Geale being able to give Cotto a run. Then the talk turned to Geale being drained of energy in his battle to make weight. Geale may truly have been affected by the weight he had to lose to meet Cotto on Saturday, but the truth is that Cotto is simply a far better fighter than Geale is.

In short, the Puerto Rican legend mopped the floor with his Aussie opponent on Sunday. Sure enough, Geale ended up quitting after being dropped in the fourth (though "quitting" is a rather harsh way of saying the guy simply admitted he was licked).

After the fight, Cotto praised trainer Freddie Roach profusely. He then expressed a willingness to face Canelo Alvarez and a "why not?" attitude towards facing Gennady Golovkin. The fact that he didn't jump up and down at the mere mention of GGGs name has made some angry, of course. Not that Cotto cares. He's just not that interested in being pals with everyone, after all.

On to next week.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Cotto Destroys Geale

Once again, Cotto occupies center stage

So much for Daniel Geale rising to the occassion. Make no mistake about it, the Aussie warrior is tough. He's not without talent, either.

Nor is he without brains.

For he he packed it in after being knocked down twice by a ferocious Miguel Cotto on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Who, really, can blame Geale for doing the sane thing?

Cotto owned this bout from the opening bell. I said earlier this week that Cotto was simply the more talented fighter. The Puerto Rican proved it on Saturday in spades.

Indeed, Cotto's beating of poor Geale was comparable to the one Gennady Golovkin delivered to the unfortunate contender last year. Lot's of people write Cotto off, and that's a mistake. Yeah, he's a diva, but he's good. Scratch that. He's great.

One of the most interesting things about Cotto is that he has an excellent defense. As Geale himself will surely attest, the man is VERY hard to hit. Like Manny Pacquiao, Cotto delivers classic Freddie Roach movement.

As well as classic Freddie Roach aggressiveness.

Body shots, left hooks, Cotto chopped Geale down like piece of timber on Saturday. Naysayers will find things to criticize, but the man looked terrific at the Barclays this weekend.

Like him or not, the guy's a legitimate ring legend.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Weekend Predictions

Once again, it's a Cotto weekend

Okay folks, we've got a decent fight weekend here. Great? Probably not - though you never know - but decent. Let's take a look at some of the major bouts lined up over the next several days, shall we? I'm going to offer my pics here based on the info available to me. Of course, I could be wrong. Feel free to disagree and/or comment.

Robert Guerrero v Aaron Martinez: This one's going to be the main event on Saturday afternoon's PBC card, which will be aired live from California's StubHub center on NBC. Guerrero has fought some of the best names out there like Mayweather and Thurman. Although he's come up short on those occasions, I think he's obviously just going to be too much for Martinez, who last got stopped by Josesito Lopez. Martinez, a likable guy who employs a stance which reminds me of Jack Dempsey, just doesn't appear to be skilled enough to trump Thurman's speed and skill on the inside. This ten round welterweight scrap is being called a tuneup for Guerrero by a lot of people and it's easy to see why.

Jesus Cuellar v Vic Darchinyan: A solid undercard fight, this one features the old warrior versus the up-and-comer. Let's face it, it's hard not to like Darchinyan. He's lost plenty, sure, but he's always ready to get it on again. Game and awkward, he's an admirable featherweight. Still, I don't see him besting the exciting Cuellar for the WBA strap this weekend. Cuellar is simply too strong, and perhaps too active in the ring.

Miguel Cotto v Daniel Geale: This week's big one will be aired live on HBO. A lot of people thought Geale would give Cotto a run in their matchup this Saturday from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Then word came down that Geale was having trouble dropping enough pounds to meet Cotto's unfair catchweight demand. No matter, I say. Cotto is simply the better fighter. He's stronger, has better movement, is more consistent in the ring and can hit. Geale's good, but Cotto is one of the greats. Unless he's missing a step as he grows older, this night will belong to Cotto.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Question Of The Week: What If Geale Beats Cotto?

Thus begins a new series here at Sean's Page - the  the Question Of The Week series - wherein each week, a relevant question pertaining to the sport of boxing will be dealt with. This week's question deals with one Daniel Geale, the increasingly thin Aussie who is set to face the increasingly unpopular middleweight champion, Miguel Cotto this Saturday night in Brooklyn.

The question:

What if Geale beats Cotto?

It's something I haven't seen a whole lot of people bringing up. Oh, I've heard and read of people saying Geale has a chance - at least I did until the catchweight matter came to the forefront - but I haven't noticed too many individuals pondering what will happen if Geale pulls off the upset.

First off, let's admit right here and now that many will be thrilled if Cotto bites the dust this weekend. There's just no two ways about it. Cotto has done something that would have seemed quite strange seven or eight years ago, he's made himself into a villain. Fair or not, fans and analysts are now viewing the guy as an arrogant grump who bends the rules to his favor.  So there's that.

There's also the fact that a superfight with Canelo Alvarez either wouldn't happen at all or would suddenly become a lot less super. Let's face it, the bloom will be off the rose as far as Miguel Cotto's second act is concerned if he's bested by a guy Gennady Golovkin made mincemeat out of not so long ago. Cotto, after all, would have to win his title back impressively in order to re-generate excitement for a Canelo match.

Speaking of Golovkin, it's safe to say his chances of meeting Canelo for a fight sooner rather than later might be greatly enhanced should Cotto fall to Geale. Arguments over whether Golokin would have to bend over backwards to meet Cotto's demands would be irrelevant, since the only thing Cotto would be demanding is a rematch with his Australian foe.

Lastly, a Cotto loss would make this a really rough first half of 2015 for Cotto trainer Freddie Roach. The Pacquiao loss, the Provodnikov loss, back problems and then a Cotto loss would make for really rough going.

Boxing is nothing, however, if not a sea of extremely choppy waters.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mayweather May "Move Toward" Either Khan Or Brook As Next Opponent This Month

Sure, Amir Khan has been saying Floyd Mayweather may choose to fight him soon, but now there are whispers from other sources that Floyd may indeed "move toward" his next opponent before this month is out. Here’s the thing, though – the opponent Floyd ultimately chooses may not be Khan. 

"Before that," the reliable LA Times reporter Lance Pugmire tweeted on Wednesday, "I'm told @FloydMayweather may move toward his next opponent, with @AmirKingKhan and @SpecialKBrook in front, w/in 2 weeks."

You read that right. Word on the street is that Mayweather may choose Brook over Khan to be his next opponent. Of course, no one really knows what's on Floyd's mind, so this could all be nonsense. Still, it would be the irony of ironies if Khan ignored Brook for Mayweather, only for Mayweather to end up fighting Brook.

Again, though, this is Mayweather we're talking about here. Anyone whose followed the songs and dances which have led to Floyd choosing his last few opponents know that premature alarms are par for the course. Still, news is worth reporting  when it comes from a trusted source like Pugmire. 

One thing is for certain, no matter who Floyd picks as his next opponent, there won't be nearly the brouhaha there was last winter when Mayweather announced he was fighting Manny Pacquiao. That was truly a once in a lifetime experience...thank heavens.  

Freddie Roach Talks About Manny Pacquiao's Return

It seems like "the fight everyone is furious over" just ended, but there's already talk of Manny Pacquiao's ring return, and - let's face it - we're interested. Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach claimed on camera that he thinks PacMan will be back in the ring in "nine months."  That's pretty big news since most of us may have assumed it would take longer for the Filipino legend to return.

Paulie Malignaggi's name is being thrown around as a potential opponent. Frankly, I'm not thrilled with this one. Simply because Manny was bested by Floyd doesn't mean he wouldn't be all over Malignaggi. Besides, there are those who feel Paulie's been very hostile towards team Pacqiuao in the media. That may be a maneuver on Paulie's part to get the fight, but Roach makes it clear it's rubbed him the wrong way.

Also, Roach claims he wants his man back  facing top competition. Paulie is good, no doubt, but he's simply not proven himself to be at Pacqiao's level. Frankly, I wish the guy would broadcast rather than fight after another match or two. He really is one of the best analysts out there.

As for Manny, it will be interesting to see who he faces next. The choice, frankly is his. Khan, Thurman, Garcia, Bradley, Algieri, Brook - who among those names, even those aligned with Al Haymon - wouldn't salivate at the thought of facing Pacquiao (though the fans might not be too crazy about Algieri and Bradley being opponents again)? Indeed, it seems that only Floyd and Juan Manuel Marquez would balk at fighting PacMan at this point.

Let's face it, the world is still his.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Is Team Brook Serious About Facing Rios?

This may be worth pondering.

I know I'm in the minority here, but I think Brandon Rios could give Kell Brook some real problems. Watching both men's latest fights, I'm convinced that Rios' ability to grind on the inside might prove problematic for the man named "Special K." Plus, if Brook decides to hit while holding the back of Rios' head, like he did numerous times against Frankie Gavin last Saturday, I've little doubt he'll pay for it.

Make no mistake about it, Brook is a terrific fighter. In fact, I had been singing his praises for a while before he finally came to the states to face Shawn Porter last year. What's more, I'm not going to outright state I think Rios can take Brook. All I'm saying is that a Brook-Rios fight would be competitive. You can never be 100% on these things when it comes to boxing, but that's how I see it.

Thing is, I'm not sure these two are going to meet in the ring anytime soon. Team Brook has been talking a lot about it since the destruction of Frankie Gavin this past Saturday, but we've been down this road before. Brook called out Rios after the Jo Jo Dan fight, after all, but nothing came of it.

If you listen to team Rios, their man jumped at the opportunity to face the IBF welterweight champion, but the challenge ultimately proved to be a hollow one. Is that what's happening this time around, as well? Honestly, I don't see Rios or trainer Robert Garcia chasing after a carrot too many times. If Eddie Hearn wants this fight, he might want to be as proactive as possible.

And, if the man is to be believed, he's being just that. For, according to the British promoter, he's already made an offer to Top Rank Promotions, which handles Rios' affairs in such matters. Hearn reportedly says that offer has been refused, but that's nothing to get alarmed about, In fact, it's just a way to get the ball rolling.

In truth, I hope it keeps rolling. Unlike some, I'd like to see this one. Could it possibly end up being a no-win situation for Brook? Sure. Still, as the British Special Forces say, "who dares, wins."

Fighter Of The Week - Anthony Joshua

I can't begin to tell you how close the race for Fighter Of The Week was this time around.

Chris Algieri made a believer out of me the other night, and perhaps a whole lot of other people. I like to think I had more faith in the guy than most walking in to Friday's bout with Amir Khan, but even I was totally blown away by Algieri's transition at the hands of Sergey Kovalev trainer John David Jackson.

Indeed, Algieri was well on his way to occupying the position of Fighter Of The Week, even though he had lost to Khan on Friday. Yet, in the end, Anthony Joshua simply could not be denied. Have you seen the British heavyweight fight yet? If not, I strongly suggest you get to YouTube right away. I could be wrong, but the gentleman looks to me like the real deal.

Joshua's destruction of Kevin Johnson on the undercard of the Kell Brook-Frankie Gavin fight this weekend served as a warning siren to those big names in the heavyweight division. At least it should have, if men like Klitschko, Wilder and Fury have ears to listen with.

For Joshua on Saturday was what a heavyweight should be - in great shape and in possession of a killer skill set. Johnson wanted to keep out of his path, so Joshua zeroed in - not wildly, but fast and deliberate, like a drone. Needless to say the bout didn't get past the second round, with Joshua earning the win by TKO.

There are those, of course, who will question the man's resume and ability to fight at a top level. And they have a right to question. A perfect record of 13-0 with 13 KOs is a nice thing to have. Yet it doesn't mean much if you can't take your career to the next level - which, of course, poses a problem for fight writers like me.

What do you do with a guy who looks awesome, but has yet to prove himself? You go with your gut and hope you don't end up looking foolish, that's what you do. And my guy tells me Joshua may well be the future of the heavyweight division. Frankly, he's given me no reason to believe otherwise, especially after this weekend's performance.

Why is Anthony Joshua Fighter Of The Week? Because, in a busy weekend, he simply impressed more than anyone. Judging by the level of competition he had, that's saying something.