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1. The Contender returns in Fall 2018 with new 12-episode season on EPIX07:02[−]

The Contender, the show that jump-started the careers of future titleholders like Ishe Smith and Sergio Mora, is returning to television.

The boxing reality series will come back in the fall with a new, 12-episode season on EPIX, it was announced Monday. Sixteen fighters will battle it out for a six-figure prize, and more importantly, to grab recognition in an attempt to springboard their careers.

“Boxing belongs on premium pay television and there is no better home for The Contender than EPIX,” said series producer Mark Burnett, a guru of reality TV responsible for shows like Shark Tank and The Apprentice. “We will tell stories of the fighters, the families and their difficult journeys in the emotionally compelling Contender style so that viewers get to vicariously walk a mile in the boxers’ shoes.”

The weight class of the fighters wasn’t revealed, but the athletes will be divided into two teams to train, with a “renowned boxing coach” overseeing each squad.

The show debuted in 2005 on NBC and ran each of the next three years, with the network home moving to ESPN for Seasons 2 and 3 before it culminated on Versus (now NBCSN).

This is the first time the show will be on premium cable, which should add a new element with far less censorship.

The Contender has launched the careers of many fighters, with some Contenders taking world titles,” said Michael Wright, President of EPIX, a network that once televise boxing matches like Alexander Povetkin-Marco Huck and David Haye-Dereck Chisora. “But this new iteration of the series will also showcase the heart, spirit and dramatic personal stories of these fighters as they fight in and out of the ring to realize their dreams.

“This is not only real boxing, but real, raw human storytelling from the best unscripted television production team in the world.”

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2. Fight Facts podcast, ep. 1406:08[−]

Photo by Emily Harney

Sweet science pundits Joe Santoliquito, aka “Philly Joe,” and Michael Woods, aka “Brooklyn Mike,” dig up fresh news and dish spicy opinion on all facets of the fight game in this fast-moving boxing podcast. Yes, expect Philly-style decorum and Brooklyn-type diplomacy while they rap about the big bouts and famed fighters.

This week’s review/preview leads to a discussion of starpower: Errol Spence Jr. has now achieved it; Danny Garcia might need to forget he ever had it in order to succeed. And, seeing as how it’s “Philly” Joe, expect the Eagles to be mentioned.

Fight Facts is available on iTunes! (Note: New episodes can take some time to appear and be searchable in the iTunes store, but you’ll get them immediately if you subscribe to the feed.) Or listen to and download the file from the player above. You’ll find our entire podcast archive by clicking the PODCASTS link at the top of this page.

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3. Errol Spence Jr. keeps the pressure on Keith Thurman., 22 .[−]

It is a universally held belief that IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr., last seen in mini-Marvin Hagler mode, hammering Lamont Peterson to the point where trainer Barry Hunter and Peterson were pondering hanging up the gloves afterward, is a badass.

Most everyone who cares about such things have the 28-year-old Spence in their pound-for-pound Top 10. But fans who dont agree point to his resume. “Where are the A-grade quality wins?” They ask.

We knew hed down Peterson; they say.

Kell Brook was diminished by unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin; they say.

Thats not all Spences fault; I say.

I say elevate him a couple notches on your P4P list now because I guarantee you will later. I say Spence wants to fight all comers, including those folks you say would or maybe could beat him. Like WBA/WBC titleholder Keith ThurmanSpence wants that now. Book it for tomorrow, in the Dallas Walmart parking lot, put up a tent, charge $20 at the door and Spence would fight Thurman. Now, he says it politely; he doesnt cuss or bloviate or posture. He does it with a mild temperamentbut the 23-0 (with 20 knockouts) hitter wants the super-fights.

He made it clear before the Lamont Peterson fight, and for sure after the fight, which unfolded at Barclays Center and on Showtime.

Thurman says hes a bigger puncher than these guys but whens the last time he had a knockout? Spence asked rhetorically. The pedigree of opponent is raised and hes not getting the knockout. Leonard Bundu, Robert Guerrero, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia all made it to the final bell against One Time, in fact

He was ‘One Time’ when he was fighting lower-caliber fighters but now hes not getting the knockouts, Spence said. Then, quite agreeably, the Texan said hes fine with Thurman having one rust-shedderbut then he needs to step to the line against Spence. A tune-up fight in March/April and then we can fight at the end of the year.

At the post-fight presser, trainer Derrick James put pressure on Thurman, saying the Floridian, getting an allowance from some for being a newlywed, shouldnt be allowed to kick the can down the road. Fans pushed Kell Brook to come back from an eye injury and get in tough again and Thurman should be pushed to do the same, he said.

We and all in attendance were straining to figure when wed see Spence next and against whom. Amir Khan was mentioned and Spence grinned. Message was clear: Khan should not want a taste of these leather launchers. The classy Texan didnt weigh in; he just let his grin speak volumes.

He was asked about building his brand when he doesn’t stir the pot. Sugar Ray Leonard didnt talk trash either, he noted.

All hes gotta do is keep beating peoples asses like hes been doing. You dont have to play the fool, promoter Lou DiBella said. Its happenin!

Right now, just thinking of a homecoming, Im thinking of going home and fighting in Dallas, my next fight, so hopefully we can make that happen, Spence said, casually, face not marked with a single nick, less than an hour after he finished Peterson.

My three cents: Indeed it is happenin. The Spence train has barreled at us. Its in the train station; get on board now. And yes, lets keep that pressure on the powers that be; dont let excessive marination come into play. Lets see Spence versus Thurman as soon as possible. As Spence headed to the exit, I asked him whom hed maybe like for that Dallas homecoming. How about Shawn Porter? He didn’t grab the bait. Everybody waitin on Keith, he said, proving that not only can he be a persistent sort in the ring, he can stay focused and hammer his message home outside the ring as well.

Follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.

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4. Johnny Nelson believes Usyk will be unified cruiserweight and heavyweight champion., 22 .[−]

The semi-finals of the cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series begin on Saturday with WBO titleholder Oleksandr Usyk and WBC counterpart Mairis Briedis clashing in a much-anticipated unification bout in Riga, Latvia.

Given the momentum this unique elimination tournament has gained, there will be plenty of interested onlookers and one of them is former WBO cruiserweight titleholder Johnny Nelson. Along with Marco Huck, Nelson holds the record for most title defenses in the division (13).

Since retiring in 2007, the Sheffield man has worked as an expert analyst for Sky Sports and loves the idea of the WBSS tournament.

“I think is brilliant; it’s created some intriguing fights, especially at cruiserweight,” Nelson told RingTV.com. “The problem is that there are only a few star names in there that the general public will be able to say ‘Yeah, I know him’ and that’s why it’s probably not got the attention it deserves.”

The other cruiserweight semi-final between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos takes place on Feb. 3 in Russia. The winners are then scheduled to meet in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in May for a cache of hardware, including the Muhammad Ali trophy, the IBF, WBC and WBO titles and, most likely, the vacant RING championship.

“Usyk’s a good puncher as well as a boxer,” said Nelson. “I think he’ll beat Briedis and knock him out. It’ll probably go half way through. It’ll take time for him to pepper him, get his distance.

I think it’ll be Gassiev (and Usyk in the final). I think (Gassiev will) stop Dorticos, but it’ll be a good fight.

However, one man clearly stands out for Nelson.

“These are intriguing fights, but it’s about levels,” said the former long-reigning titleholder before explaining. “When I first saw Usyk, he’s the guy I thought, keep an eye on him, he’s top drawer, hes top dog.

“As soon as this tournament was announced and I knew Usyk was involved, I thought, it’s a done deal. That’s something you could have popped (down) to the betting shop straight off. It’s probably something I should have done.

“I think Usyk is a level above the lot. It doesn’t matter what the others do, this is such a great opportunity to show his skills and what he’s capable of doing. I think Usyk wins hands down. It’s his for the taking. This tournament is for him to lose. There’s nobody there that I think will touch him.

The former cruiserweight titleholder then made an extremely bold prediction about Usyks future beyond the 200-pound division.

“I think this guy will end up being a unified cruiserweight, as well as a unified heavyweight champion, for quite some time, said Nelson.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

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5. Dougies Monday mailbag (Errol Spence Jr., THE RING rankings)., 22 .[−]

A GOOD START TO THE NEW YEAR

Hi Doug,

I will try and keep it short and sweet. I watched the Showtime card Saturday night and I still think that Errol Spence Jr. is going to be the man once the dust settles in the welterweight division. Make no

mistake though, he is going to have to work for it. There is an incredible round robin of matchups that can be made at welter, and for me the most exciting match in boxing outside of Joshua/Wilder is Errol

Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford. I know that one is down the road but stop a minute and think about what a fight that would be… (and I would pay to see that one) at the same time some of the fights we will see in the meantime also fire up the boxing fan in me.

While I am looking to the future let me not overlook the fight that Lamont Peterson put up Saturday. He put in a good effort, though I guess he thought taking it to Spence was a better strategy than boxing. He paid the price for it, though he did reach Spence several times. What if that had been Crawford’s punches? I am just glad Lamont got out of it without any serious hurt being put on him.

Spence seems to want Keith Thurman now. Is there any chance that can actually happen? Do you think Thurman wants it? How do you see that fight playing out in the ring? It looks to be another good year for

boxing fans…if politics don’t get in the way of the best fights being made. David, Nashville

Politics (and network contracts) will definitely keep some dream matches from happening this year (and probably next) such as Spence vs. Crawford which will frustrate hardcore fans; but I think enough big fights will happen to keep the diehards in the sport and maybe even attract more casual fan interest. I believe that boxing grew a little bit last year thanks to all of the significant fights that were made around the world Joshua-Klitschko and Canelo-Golovkin in particular and the sport may have even received a boost from the Mayweather-McGregor PPV exhibition (along with ESPNs renewed interest in the Sweet Science).

The stage is set for boxing to attract more fans this year. Well see if the promoters, managers, network power-brokers and deal-makers can get it right (with the cooperation of the elite fighters, of course).

While I am looking to the future let me not overlook the fight that Lamont Peterson put up Saturday. Indeed. Lets not brush over Petersons brave challenge. He did himself proud, as did his trainer and father figure Barry Hunter by halting it after seven rounds. I thought Peterson was done after Round 5, but you have to give a gutsy veteran and former world titleholder like Peterson a chance to rally in those situations. Hunter did that and then made the difficult decision to save Peterson from himself.

He put in a good effort, though I guess he thought taking it to Spence was a better strategy than boxing. Peterson probably could have lasted a few more rounds by employing the same stick-and-move strategy that he used against Danny Garcia during the first half of their fight in 2015, but keep in mind that Spence has better footwork than Swift, and is more adept at cutting off the ring behind a constant hard jab and debilitating straight lefts to the body. I think result would have been the same had Peterson attempted to be more elusive from the get-go, it just probably would have occurred after Rounds 9 or 10.

Spence got tagged by a few right hands from Peterson. Photo / Amanda Westcott-SHOWTIME

He paid the price for it, though he did reach Spence several times. Spence is an excellent boxer-technician, but hes an offense-minded volume puncher and when a fighter has that style and mentality, hes going to take some flush shots from time to time. Im OK with that. Ill take the Spences and Golovkins over the Mayweathers and Wards every time.

What if that had been Crawford’s punches? I dont know. Hopefully, we find out one day. We know Crawford can crack at 140 pounds, but we dont know if his power will have the same authority at welterweight.

I am just glad Lamont got out of it without any serious hurt being put on him. Well, I wouldnt say that he got through that fight unscathed.

Spence seems to want Keith Thurman now. Gee, what was your first clue? LOL.

Is there any chance that can actually happen? Yeah, Spence wants it. The fans want to see it. Showtime wants to televise it. Only two things prevent it from happening: Thurman (who wants to put it off) and Al Haymon (who also probably wants to put it off).

Do you think Thurman wants it? No. I dont think any welterweight is eager to get into the ring with Spence. But that doesnt mean he wont eventually do it.

How do you see that fight playing out in the ring? As good as Spence looked against Kell Brook and Peterson, I still think Thurman can give him a difficult night. However, I slightly favor the improving-yet-to-peak Spence now.

ERROL SPENCE IS VERY GOOD, NOT GREAT

Hi Doug,

Watched the Spence-Peterson fight Saturday night. It was a very good showing by Errol Spence, one of my favorite young fighters. I never expected Lamont to be competitive in this fight. As a matter of fact, his 11-month inactivity plus him always being just a good opponent was enough for me to favor Spence big. And boy did he deliver. This is how I want younger, stronger, fresher fighters to dominate their opponents, combination punching, no fear, power, and with intention to KO.

Now coming back to reality, I didnt like the fact that he let himself get hit much more than I expected. I didnt see subtle movement on the inside (a la GGG) to make his opponent miss by inches. And lets be honest. Its not like Peterson has blinding speed. As of now I would still favor Keith Thurman and Terrance Crawford over him, but I wouldnt be surprised if his resiliency would take over and eventually beat them.

I would favor him over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. If he beats these guys the way he beat Peterson then were talking a whole different ballgame.

Overall, I can say he didnt disappoint and hes one of the most exciting boxers in the game right now. Thanks Doug! Juan Valverde, San Diego

Thats all that needs to be said, Juan. Too many fans and members of the media go overboard with accolades whenever Spence fights. We can all see that hes special. We see the poise, power, precision. We know hes one of the top three (or top two welterweights) and, arguably, one of the best boxers regardless of weight. We dont need to proclaim him the Pound-for-Pound King or a future hall of famer right now (as some have). That doesnt make sense after only two significant victories, both of which he was a strong odds favorite to win. We should just enjoy witnessing his legitimate climb to the top. Hes getting there, but he aint there yet. (And stating this fact does not make anyone a Spence hater. Anyone who claims this is a hopeless nitwit.)

This is how I want younger, stronger, fresher fighters to dominate their opponents, combination punching, no fear, power, and with intention to KO. This is what everybody wants (or SHOULD want). Thats why theres so much excitement surrounding Spence. (Its also why theres too much prognostication regarding his supposedly limitless potential from the boxing media.) As long as he continues to deliver like this, his stature in the sport will continue to rise.

Now coming back to reality, I didnt like the fact that he let himself get hit much more than I expected. It didnt bother me much. He knew (just as well as you did) that Peterson did not possess the power to threaten him.

I didnt see subtle movement on the inside (a la GGG) to make his opponent miss by inches. I saw subtle movement, but it was more offense-oriented footwork and technique. Spence is not slick or slippery in there. Never has been, probably never will be. Hes more Marvin Hagler than Sugar Ray Leonard. Im OK with that.

And lets be honest. Its not like Peterson has blinding speed. True. I dont think Spence has blinding speed, either. Thats one area that Thurman might edge him in, and one of the reasons thats an interesting matchup (although most boxing fans and media think Keith has no chance and would rather see Spence skip ahead to Crawford).

As of now I would still favor Keith Thurman and Terrance Crawford over him, but I wouldnt be surprised if his resiliency would take over and eventually beat them. Prior to the Peterson fight, I slightly favored Thurman and Crawford over Spence. Now, Im not so sure. Hes getting better. They may have plateaued.

I would favor him over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Me too, but I think Porter can at least match his physical strength when in close (which hed have to be all night in order to have any chance).

If he beats these guys the way he beat Peterson then were talking a whole different ballgame. Agreed. And I wouldnt be shocked if he did it.

WHATS NEXT FOR SPENCE, EASTER?

Hello Doug,

Spence impressed, Marcus Browne and Adam Kownacki were entertaining for as long as their fights lasted and I must say that the Robert Easter v Fortuna fight was competitive but at times a difficult fight to watch.

Spence proved to have a deep tool box of skills that he can pull from which will make him a true world champ for years to come and a tough out for any of the top tier fighters in the game. Lamont Peterson just never got going; was it the skill and power of Spence and/or the fact that Lamonts best years have come and gone? Keith Thurman has to walk away from watching that performance by Spence with the realization that Errol is The Truth. Add Spence to the list, along with the Charlos, of guaranteed stars for the future that fight in an aggressive yet calculated manner and can end the night at any moment in dramatic fashion with a one punch knockout. What do you think of Spence fighting Shawn Porter (he did very well commentating alongside Barry Tompkins and Farhood for the prelim fights) next while he waits for Thurman to make his comeback?

Robert Easter v Fortuna was a close hard-fought fight but neither fighter ever really took full control. Robert Easter was struggling to find his range and just kept smothering his punches throughout the night. I was fine with the decision and I also enjoyed Fortunas post-fight interview that ended with Easter calling him out on his BS excuse for missing weight. I like that Easter called out the other top dogs @135 Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares, but judging from his performance and his struggles with distance and his lack of consistency with his jab, I dont know if Easter is ready for the challenge but I definitely want to find out. How do you think Easter fares against Linares or Mikey? Thanks again! Andrew, Chula Vista, CA

Robert Easter Jr. launches a left hook at Javier Fortuna during their hotly contested, often ugly 12-round non-title bout. Photo / @ShowtimeBoxing

I think Easter would look better against Garcia and Linares than he did against Fortuna, an unorthodox southpaw with an awkwardly athletic style. But hes just not seasoned or complete enough to beat the veteran three-division titleholders. Believe it or not, I think he would have more success with Garcia than Linares, because of his quick hands and Mikeys planted feet. Easters got heart and pretty solid whiskers but I think Garcia would gradually break him down to a late stoppage. I think Linares speed and movement would be difficult for Easter to zero in on, but the Toledo natives height would likely bother the Vegas-based Venezuelan. Still, Easter consistently gives up his reach, so Id have to favor Linares by competitive but clear decision.

Regarding the Easter-Fortuna fight, it was too awkward and ugly for me to bother scoring every round (I think I lost interest after the seventh) or to have any interest in a rematch. Both lightweights need to move on.

Spence proved to have a deep tool box of skills that he can pull from which will make him a true world champ for years to come and a tough out for any of the top tier fighters in the game. No doubt about it. You dont have to be Ray Arcel or Jack Chappie Blackburn to realize that.

Lamont Peterson just never got going; was it the skill and power of Spence and/or the fact that Lamonts best years have come and gone? It was mostly due to Spences skill and power (and steely focus), but I think a younger, fresher version of Peterson could have put up more of a fight and lasted longer.

Keith Thurman has to walk away from watching that performance by Spence with the realization that Errol is The Truth. Maybe. Maybe not. Thurmans a very confident competitor. Hes earned his spot at (or near) the top of the welterweights. Thurmys also a sharp dude. He knows Spence is dangerous and hungry, so hes likely going to make the young lion wait for the opportunity to fight for his WBC and WBA belts until he sees frustration or flaws in the Texan.

Add Spence to the list, along with the Charlos, of guaranteed stars for the future that fight in an aggressive yet calculated manner and can end the night at any moment in dramatic fashion with a one punch knockout. I hope youre right. I know the Texas trio can KO most of their opposition in thrilling fashion, but I wish I could be certain that theyre destined for stardom. Theyre going to need better promotion than theyve received so far in order for that to happen. Its crazy to me that of the three of them, only Jermall has defended a title (his old IBF 154-pound belt) in his hometown, but that was a 4,000-seat venue (The Bomb Factory) in Dallas. The Charlos should be defending their world titles in their hometown of Houston and their fights should be at a big venue like the Toyota Center (which can hold between 17,000-19,000). Spence should be fighting in Dallas, and not at TBF (not that theres anything wrong with the venue, Im sure its great for concerts, but the IBF welterweight king should be defending his title at a major arena). Hopefully, the Charlos and Spence have a busy 2018 and fight at least once in their home state.

What do you think of Spence fighting Shawn Porter (he did very well commentating alongside Barry Tompkins and Farhood for the prelim fights) next while he waits for Thurman to make his comeback? Im OK with that matchup. Porter is a legit top-five welterweight and he deserves another shot at a title. Regarding his excellent interview, of course he shined. Hes Showtime Shawn Porter. And hes from Ohio! All Ohio fighters are good interviews. (Didnt you know that?) Even if he wasnt such a great guy, Tompkins and Farhood are hall-of-fame pros that would have made it work. Those two could make Frankie Gomez seem like hes got a personality.

SPENCE IS A BAAAAAAAAD MAN!

Whattup Doug! Happy New Year!

Wow, Spence is a baby-faced assassin! To break the spirit of a guy like Lamont Peterson takes some doing. Peterson was never going to quit, but he seemed like he wanted to pick up and go home and I (and I think Lamont) was thankful when Hunter saved him from his own bravery.

What next for Errol? How do you see the Garcia fight playing out in June (assuming thats the fight that gets made)? Does Sometime want any part of him? How does Errol fare against the top 154 guys if he moves up?

Quick one on one of Errols previous conquests – how do you see Brook v Khan if its made for the end of 2018?

Thanks for the twice-weekly check-ins, always a good way to bookend the work week! Alex, NY

Thank you, Alex. Ill keep the column going in 2018 and maybe add a weekly Twitter mailbag to the mix.

Prior to his back-to-back stoppages to Golovkin and Spence, I favored Brook to get the better of Khan (probably by late KO in a competitive fight). Now, Im kind of feeling Khan (even though the former 140-pound titleholder is coming off a brutal KO loss himself). I need to see how Khan looks in his April comeback bout to really gauge where hes at, but I think Brook absorbed a lot more punishment in his last two bouts than Khan did in absorbing that chilling one-hitter-quitter against Canelo.

What next for Errol? Danny Garcia at Barclays Center in June, according to Showtimes Stephen Espinoza. Of course, this depends on what happens with the Garcia-Rios fight next month, and if Angel Garcia is OK with putting his son in with the danger man of the division (as the Brits would say).

How do you see the Garcia fight playing out in June (assuming thats the fight that gets made)? I think Spence will grind him down to a late stoppage.

Does Sometime want any part of him? Not right now. (As much as I like Thurman, I love that nickname.)

How does Errol fare against the top 154 guys if he moves up? I think he would well because of his excellent boxing foundation and technique, but he would be able to outmuscle and overpower the top junior middleweights. He could outpoint tough guys like Jarret Hurd and Liam Smith, but it wouldnt come easy. I can envision Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo and even Sadam Ali giving Spence fits with their lateral movement and speed. Ali would have to box a very disciplined fight given his questionable whiskers but my guess is that hes gained a lot of confidence from the Miguel Cotto upset and may continue to improve.

SPENCE VS. SWIFT, EASTER VS. LOMA

Hey Doug,

Hope you enjoyed the Spence fight, as well as the other fights this weekend. The way Spence took Peterson apart made me feel pretty bad for Lamont, a fighter I really like. He was part of the first fight I ever watched, when he should have handed DSG his first L. Where do you think he goes from here? Errol doing what he did to a fighter who beat up DSG pretty bad makes me wonder how a fight between the two would go. Do you think he could knock Danny out?

Finally, of the champs at 135, I always ranked Robert Easter in a tie for third with Flanagan. However, with Loma likely moving up in the very near future, I wondered if he were to fight Easter how Easter’s vast height advantage would factor into the fight. Now, having seen Easter struggle in his last two fights with guys around the same height as Loma, I have a hard time not seeing Loma make Easter look pretty bad. What do you think? Best to you and the family. Graham, Bangkok

Thanks Graham. I would favor Lomachenko to outpoint Easter and Garcia at lightweight. (I know many fans and media disagree with my opinion on that second matchup, but hey, its just a matter of styles.) Of the lightweight standouts, I think Linares gives him the most trouble because hes a fast and offensively creative mover, much like Lomachenko, who doesnt have the power to threaten the talented Venezuelans shaky whiskers or brittle skin.

The way Spence took Peterson apart made me feel pretty bad for Lamont, a fighter I really like. Losses like that are hard to watch when the guy on the s__t-end of the stick is a classy, hard-working veteran like Peterson, but its just part of the sport.

He was part of the first fight I ever watched, when he should have handed DSG his first L. Where do you think he goes from here? I think he sticks around for another year or so, long enough to make one more significant payday, and then hell hang em up. He can still make for some competitive and entertaining matchups against the PBCs non-elite welters such as the losers of the upcoming Garcia-Rios and Ortiz-Alexander bouts, Omar Figueroa Jr., and (gulp) Andre Berto.

Errol doing what he did to a fighter who beat up DSG pretty bad makes me wonder how a fight between the two would go. Do you think he could knock Danny out? Yup. I was ringside for the Garcia-Robert Guerrero fight and I thought Swift struggled against The Ghost. If Guerrero can get in that ass for five or six rounds, what do you think Spence will do?

THE RING RATINGS

Hi Doug,

Couple of questions about the RING ratings, even if I don’t always agree with them, they are still THE ratings.

The winner of the WBSS, where would you hypothetically place them P4P? The winner at Cruiser surely has to be in there after getting through a murderer’s row in a stacked division. What about the Super Middle version?

Will Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada be for the lineal Super Fly belt as Inoue is on his way up and its 2 vs. 3

What 5 fighters at the moment do you think have the best chance of crashing the list this year?

MM:

Harry Greb vs. Joe Calzaghe

Joe Gans vs. Pacquiao

Povetkin vs. Tyson

All the best. Conrad, Sheffield

Ill go with Greb, Gans and Tyson all by knockout.

The winner of the WBSS, where would you hypothetically place them P4P? The winner at Cruiser surely has to be in there after getting through a murderer’s row in a stacked division. I think so. Some boxing writers already consider Oleksandr Usyk a lower-top-10 pound-for-pound player. If he unifies the four major titles by winning the World Boxing Super Series, I can see him being universally ranked near the top five. Whoever wins the cruiserweight Ali Trophy is going to crack the P4P Top 10. The winner will also earn THE RINGs vacant cruiserweight title.

What about the Super Middle version? I think the winner of the 168-pound tournament will be close to making the P4P Top 10, maybe right outside of it. And Im fairly certain he will be crowned THE RINGs super middleweight champ.

Will Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada be for the lineal Super Fly belt as Inoue is on his way up and its 2 vs. 3. Yes, I believe it will be, although Inoue has yet to vacate his WBO 115-pound title. I think most of THE RINGs Ratings Panel is in favor of this. (In fact, the opening bout of HBOs SuperFly 2 broadcast Donnie Nietes vs. Juan Carlos Reveco is between THE RINGs Nos. 1- and 3-rated flyweights, and thus, is eligible to be for the magazines vacant 112-pound title.)

What 5 fighters at the moment do you think have the best chance of crashing the list this year? Usyk (if he wins his next two bouts), Estrada (if he beats Sor Rungvisai), Nietes (if he beats Reveco), Leo Santa Cruz (if he dominates Abner Mares), and Anthony Joshua (if blasts Joseph Parker).

THE RINGS HEAVYWEIGHT TOP 10

Hi Dougie,

In my last note on my opinion on who should be added or taken off the top ten heavyweight rankings you asked for my thoughts.

  1. I don’t think Dominic Breazeale should be on the list. In my opinion, Fred Kassi beat him in their fight. He really has no wins over notable fighters.
  2. Dillian Whyte will probably be removed from the list when Lucas Browne knocks him out in their upcoming bout which I think he will.
  3. Adam Kownacki should be in the top ten. Unbeaten and takes on all comers.
  4. Lucas Browne should be on the list. Also, unbeaten and has fought some very good fighters.
  5. Andy Ruiz Jr. and Kubrat Pulev need to be more active to remain on the list.
  6. Bryant Jennings should probably move down to Cruiserweight. He is a great fighter but just too small to compete with todays ‘Giant’ heavyweights.
  7. Would love to see Jarrell Miller fight one of the top 3 or 4 guys.

The biggest thing to me is that all top ten fighters should fight at least 4 times per year. This would make for a lot more excitement and competition in boxing. Keep up the good work. Mike

Thanks for sharing your opinions, Mike.

I agree with your advice of greater activity among all top-10 rated boxers. Thats they way it often was in past decades when boxing was more popular in the U.S.

Breazeale after winning his slugfest with Ugonoh. Photo / Ryan Hafey-Premier Boxing Champions

I don’t think Dominic Breazeale should be on the list. In my opinion, Fred Kassi beat him in their fight. He really has no wins over notable fighters. Yeah, but you can say that about the No. 9 contender in most weight classes. I think Breazeale, whos developed into one of the sports more reliable action fighters, is worthy of a lower top-10 ranking. I thought he legitimately beat Kassi. I know the counterpunching gatekeeper gave him fits, and I understand that Dom looked rather sloppy (and missed a lot of punches to the head) in most of the rounds, but he was the aggressor throughout the fight and he landed hard shots (to Kassi’s arms and body as well as the head) in most of the rounds. Did every head shot land clean? No, but Kassi often covered up and allowed himself to get knocked back or pushed back into the ropes, which is not a good look when youre only getting off in spots. I scored it six rounds to four for Breazeale, who just plain outhustled Kassi. The rock-solid fireplug could have won the bout if he let his hands go a little more. Along with Kassi, Breazeale owns stoppages over fringe contender Eric Molina, another stocky gatekeeper in Amir Mansour and two unbeaten (17-0 at the time) prospects in Izuagbe Ugunoh and Yasmany Consuegra. Doms only loss is to the No. 1 heavyweight on the list. No shame in that.

Dillian Whyte will probably be removed from the list when Lucas Browne knocks him out in their upcoming bout which I think he will. Well, when Big Daddy does the deed, then hell get the ranking. ‘Till then, we got Whyte at No. 8. Im looking forward to that scrap.

Adam Kownacki should be in the top ten. Unbeaten and takes on all comers. The popular Pole has defeated two solid opponents in back-to-back fights, but he JUST stepped up from the eight-round level to 10 rounders. If we drop Andy Ruiz due to inactivity, he has a good shot of getting in, but that spot could go to another up and comer.

Lucas Browne should be on the list. Also, unbeaten and has fought some very good fighters. Browne was briefly rated in our top 10 after beating Ruslan Chagaev, but he tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol after that stoppage in March 2016, a result that he and his team vehemently disputed. He was stripped of the WBA belt he won by beating Chagaev and was suspended for six months. And he didnt fight for more than a year.

Andy Ruiz Jr. and Kubrat Pulev need to be more active to remain on the list. Pulev fought last April and was scheduled to challenge Anthony Joshua this past October (but had to pull out due to an injury). Ruiz, who hasnt fought since dropping a close majority nod to Joseph Parker in December 2016, had a fight scheduled early this year but that bout appears to have been scratched, which means Andy is about to be dropped from the rankings.

Bryant Jennings should probably move down to Cruiserweight. He is a great fighter but just too small to compete with today’s ‘Giant’ heavyweights. OK. You want me to pass that suggestion on to his management?

Would love to see Jarrell Miller fight one of the top 3 or 4 guys. So would Jarrell Miller.

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @dougiefischer, and on Periscope, where promoter extraordinaire Tom Loeffler often joins him and Coach Schwartz at the Santa Monica College track on Sunday mornings.

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6. Marcus Browne made quick work of Francy Ntetu, looking for bigger game in 2018., 22 .[−]

BROOKLYN, N.Y. Marcus Browne has fought a total of 5 minutes, 45 seconds over the last six months. That has a lot to do with the fact the Staten Island, New York light heavyweight has been devouring everyone thats been put in front of him during that span.

In July, Browne made easy work out of previously unbeaten Sean Monaghan, stopping him in the second round after going 3 minutes, 40 seconds. Then on Saturday at Barclays Center, on the undercard of Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson, 27-year-old southpaw repeated what he did to Monaghan by hardly exerting any energy in beating Francy Ntetu, stopping him at 2:15 of the scheduled 10-rounder.

Browne (21-0, 16 knockouts) now has his sights set on bigger names later this year.

I need a world title, man, there are four of them out there and I have no picks, Browne said. Im in that frame of mind, where Im willing to fight whomever. Let me get something straight, I wasnt really offered the (Sergey) Kovalev fight. It wasnt in a space to where I was offered Kovalev for a world title shot.

Thats not the way it was presented to me. There was nothing there to fight him for.

Browne admitted, between laughs, that, yes he did shower after beating Ntetu, even though it took two punches, a right hook and an overhand left, to finish him.

I did shower, but nothing is easy, and nothing is given, Browne said. I make it look easy, but (Ntetu) didnt want to stop. He wanted to keep going. That shows hes a guy with character. Tonight, we had to break that down and take it out of him. After this, Im not looking too far ahead.

Im not rushing anything. I want to take my time and do what I want to do.

Ntetu (17-2, 4 KOs) was certainly impressed.

I did not expect [Browne] to be that explosive, Ntetu said. He got me with his right hook and a straight left. I was in enough shape to fight for 10 rounds, but this is not my weight class. I dont want to make excuses. [Browne] is very explosive, congrats to him. Hes explosive, hes fast, and hes smart.

He made me sleep by going my speed then catching me with the right hook. This is the second southpaw Ive fought, and he got me.

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7. Hugo Centeno not intimidated by Jermall Charlo going into March 3 interim title tilt., 22 .[−]

The WBC ordered that Jermall Charlo fight Hugo Centeno, for the WBC interim 160-pound crown, and that order will be complied with.

The Charlo brothers were on hand at Barclays Center Saturday night, and chatted with media after watching Errol Spence look like a lil Hagler, as he went into destruct and destroy mode on Lamont Peterson, whose corner saved him from further punishment after seven rounds of being smacked about by the Texas welterweight.

Texas, that state is currently home to legit pugilistic badasses

Jermall (age 27; 26-0 with 20 knockouts) is the bigger Charlo, who has gone to 160, leaving little bro Jermell to wreak havoc at 154. Mall, who can be distinguished by his twin bro by the birthmark on his brow, last fought in July, taking out Jorge Heiland in Brooklyn. That was his 160 debut. Gennady Golovkin holds the WBCs main belt and will be busy, getting ready to rematch Canelo Alvarez, so the WBC wanted to stir the pot and got the vacant interim belt into circulation. Jermall is rated No. 1 behind GGG, Canelo No. 2, Danny Jacobs No. 3 and Centeno No. 4.

Both Charlos, repping their state of Texas, at Barclays Center were asked about what fights they had planned and Jermell deferred to Jermall, who said hed be gloving up in March. He didnt give specifics. But word is out that March means March 3, at Barclays Center, underneath the Deontay Wilder WBC heavyweight title defense, against Cuban strongman Luis Ortiz. In support of that, we will get Jermall meeting Hugo Centeno, a California based boxer.

Centeno said hes looking forward to coming to NY this week, to make it official. Im very excited, said the 26-1 (14 Kos) hitter to THE RING. Pics and press conference.

Showtime this week will be rolling out specifics for their first quarter and maybe a bit beyond, with a splashy and posh network TV style up front presentation, in Manhattan, proving again that they are constantly looking to evolve product presentation, and have a commitment to the sport and a desire to put it in its best light.

The Charlos have been kicking ass and not even bothering to take names. Is Centeno a bit wary of the Charlo power? Not at all, Centeno said. Very confident for this fight. Hes a man just like me. Just like I was with Immanuwel Aleem, Im getting ready harder than ever before and Ill do the talking with my fists!

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8. George Foreman: Joe Frazier was the toughest fighter of my era. He was a buzzsaw., 21 .[−]

What must have been going through Joe Fraziers mind in Kingston, Jamaica, on Jan. 22, 1973?

The left-hook destroyer from Philadelphia hadnt lost a fight since he was outpointed by Buster Mathis in the Flushing, New York, Olympic trials in May 1964. He had become the Olympic champion at the Tokyo games that same year. He had decimated an entire heavyweight division as a professional and sealed his greatness with a 15-round unanimous decision over arch-rival Muhammad Ali. Joe Frazier (29-0, 25 knockouts) was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

And now WHAM!

The man who had succeeded Frazier as Olympic champion at Mexico 1968, George Foreman, was battering Smokin Joe like a child would a rubber toy. The fight wasnt three minutes old and Frazier had been decked three times. The second round was worse and there would not be a third. Six brain-bursting knockdowns in total from the unbeaten Foreman, all equally devastating, and every one of them courtesy of different ammunition: a pulverizing right hook, a rocket right uppercut, a four-punch combination, a massive straight-right hand, a swift left hook and then, finally, a half hook-half uppercut with the right that lifted Frazier clean off his feet.

It is arguably the most brutal dethroning of a heavyweight champion in the modern era.

If I tell you I was confident of beating Joe Frazier, then Id be lying to you, said Foreman in sharp contrast to the visual evidence. I was the No. 1 contender. I had to fight him. I didnt want to do it. But, I trained as hard as Id ever trained and I had rhythm. Id been fighting a lot more than Joe Frazier. But was I confident? No, I wasnt. I didnt have confidence at that time.

People often talk about how Joe Frazier was knocked down six times in that fight, but the amazing thing is, he got up six times. Id never seen anything like it. I was thinking to myself, if they dont hurry up and stop this fight, then hes gonna get me. When (referee) Arthur Mercante waved the fight off, I was so happy it was over. Becoming heavyweight champion of the world was a dream come true.

The professional careers of Foreman and Frazier intertwined long before they shared a prize ring. Foreman turned pro on June 23, 1969, scoring a third-round stoppage of journeyman Don Waldheim at Madison Square Garden in New York. In the main event, Frazier was defending the then-respected New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) heavyweight championship against Jerry Quarry. After taking care of his own business, Foreman looked on in awe as a rampaging Frazier retired a game Quarry in the seventh round of a bout that would later be recognized as THE RING Fight of the Year.

On Feb. 16, 1970, Foreman won his 16th straight fight, outpointing Gregorio Peralta over 10 rounds, again at The Garden. Frazier, in the main event, smashed his way through Jimmy Ellis in four to receive recognition as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. The only man who could now challenge Fraziers superiority was Ali, who returned from exile in October of that year. The Fight of the Century was set for March 8, 1971, at The Garden and where else was a fast-rising heavyweight contender going to be?

I was a house fighter at Madison Square Garden, recalled Foreman, who had fought at the famous boxing mecca on seven occasions by the time Ali and Frazier met. The Garden was hoping that I would fight the winner. They made sure I was there and introduced me at ringside.

Photo by THE RING Archive

I saw that whole fight myself. That was the greatest event in the sport of boxing ever. There hasnt been an event that has come close to it yet. Every time the bell rang for another round, Joe Frazier just kept coming and I dont think Ali, or anyone else, had seen anything like that. He never stopped coming.

Smokin Joe would retire in 1981 with a record of (32-4-1, 27 KOs) and his only defeats were two to Foreman and two to Ali. In truth, though, Foreman, was the only man who could back Smokin Joe up in his tracks. Ali won the epic trilogy over Frazier, but he never once had him off his feet and sacrificed his own physical resources to get over the finish line in their third meeting in Manila.

As game as Frazier was, however, he just could not get around Foreman who, despite everything else he achieved, ranks his first heavyweight championship victory as his proudest moment as a professional.

This was a major win for me, Foreman said before reminiscing about the aftermath. It was time to celebrate, sign autographs and take all the hugs at the hotel room. Then I just wanted water. Thats what I craved more than anything were these big bottles of water. I could drink as much as I wanted. Then it was fried chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches and all the things I couldnt have when I was training.

“From there, we caught a flight back to Houston and there were celebrations and parades. All kinds of great things. Most importantly, my first child was waiting on me. Michi Foreman was born on January 6, 1973, when I was in Kingston, Jamaica. That was a swell time for me in my life.

Foreman would defend his championship against Jose Roman and Ken Norton before being spectacularly knocked out by Ali in The Rumble in the Jungle in October 1974. The former champion retired three years later following a decision defeat to Jimmy Young and focused all his attention on his family and the Christian ministry. An improbable comeback in 1987 culminated in Foreman regaining the heavyweight championship of the world in November 1994 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 10 rounds. At 45, he had become the oldest man ever to win a professional title and secured one of the greatest triumphs in sports history.

Photo by THE RING Archive

It had been 21 years since Foreman had won the undisputed championship. The new daughter who came into the world just before her father became champion of it now had a total of 11 brothers and sisters. However, no matter how many times the great Foreman reinvented himself, no matter what he accomplished in his hall of fame career Joe Frazier and The Sunshine Showdown have always remained with him.

I admired Joe Frazier as a man because you never saw two Joe Fraziers – you only saw one, said Foreman in earnest. He was the same with everybody. As a professional, Joe Frazier was the toughest fighter of my era. He was a buzzsaw and buzzed through everyone, including Ali.

But my admiration for Joe Frazier increased just after we fought. I was looking out the window in Kingston and there were crowds waving and cheering for me. There was this couple next door and a lady was standing on the balcony. I waved, then someone told me it was Joe Fraziers sister. All I could say was Ohhhhh! and she said, George, dont feel bad. Weve had lots of victories. That made me admire Joe Frazier and his family even more because thats what you call true integrity.

Tom Gray is Associate Editor for THE RING. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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9. Emanuel Navarrete scores impressive second-round knockout of Glenn Porras., 21 .[−]

If Emanuel Navarrete wanted to make a statement that he is a force to be reckoned in the junior featherweight division, he sure did it Saturday night.

Navarrete dropped former bantamweight contender Glenn Porras three times en route to a second-round knockout victory at the Domo Sindicato de Trabajadores IMSS in Mexico City.

It was the eighteenth consecutive victory for Navarrete (23-1, 20 knockouts), who resides in the Mexico City area.

Navarrete was on the attack immediately, imposing his size and strength on the Filipino fighter. Near the end of the opening session, a left hook staggered Porras and dropped him to the canvas. The visitor beat the count just before the bell sounded to end the round.

Porras (31-7, 19 KOs) attempted to hang punch for punch with Navarrete in the second, but he was dropped again by a right hand. Porras rose but another right-hand knockdown prompted referee Guadalupe Garcia to stop the fight at 1:37.

Porras remained on the canvas for several moments but eventually got up under his own steam.

Navarrete is ranked No. 3 by the WBA and No. 9 by the WBO.

Flyweight Mario Andrade overcame a second-round knockdown to win an eight-round unanimous decision over Guillermo Said Flores (6-6-1, 1 KO).

All three judges scored the bout 77-74 in favor of Andrade, who improves to (13-6-5, 3 KOs).

In a battle of Mexico City featherweights, Mauricio Lara (10-1, 5 KOs) won a six-round unanimous decision over Israel Robles (7-4-1, 3 KOs). Scores were 60-54, 60-54, and 59-55.

In junior bantamweight action, Oscar Saucedo (9-2, 2 KOs) won a six-round split decision over Erick Cruz (3-5).

Francisco A. Salazar can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.

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10. Spence states case for being best welterweight with Peterson TKO, wants Thurman showdown to prove it., 21 .[−]

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – There came a moment late in the fourth round of Errol Spence Jr.s IBF welterweight title defense against Lamont Peterson when it became obvious how this one would end.

With about 15 seconds to go in what had been a competitive round, Peterson, a 15-1 underdog with his back against the ropes, fired a right that caught Spence between punches and flush on the face. He could not have hoped to hit his man any better.

But instead of seeing his man fall to the canvas, or, in fact, show even a flicker of reaction on his expressionless face, Petersons shot was met with massive retaliation from Spence, who answered with a right-left of his own.

Certainly Peterson, who grew up homeless on the streets of Washington, D.C., has been in tougher spots than that, but in the moment, where he was, was not a good place to be. At that point, it became obvious that for Peterson, being in the ring with Errol Spence on this night was a classic case of wrong place, wrong time.

Peterson hit the canvas in Round 5. Photo / @ShowtimeBoxing

That was the beginning of the end, and unfortunately for Peterson, it was a long, painful ride home. Going about his business like a surgeon rather than a butcher, the immensely talented, and unnaturally poised Spence dropped Peterson in the fifth and battered him in the sixth and seventh until finally, mercifully, Petersons trainer, Barry Hunter, asked for the bout to be stopped as the bell sounded for round eight.

I always respect Barrys decision, Peterson said. If he asks me to fight a million people, I will. If he asks me to stop. I will stop. I will never question his decision. I know he has my best interests at heart.

It was really hard, but if you know Lamont, you know he was not going to give up, said Hunter, who has been like a surrogate father to Peterson and his brother Anthony since they took up boxing as teenagers. So I had to stop it. At the end of the day this is my son right here. And theres nothing more valuable than his well-being. If it comes to him or winning, I pick him. I care about him.

It goes into the books officially as a TKO one second into the eighth round, but that hardly does justice to what Spence did to Peterson Saturday night at the Barclays Center.

“I didn’t know I would dominate like that, Spence said. I expected to get the knockout, but this was a great performance. We were facing a great fighter like Lamont Peterson and we did well in there.

Making the first defense of the title he won with an 11th round TKO over Kell Brook last May, Spence was both methodical and relentless in his abuse of Peterson. Working behind a piston-like right jab, Spence kept Peterson at a comfortable distance from the opening bell, occasionally dropping in his left hand to the body. A couple of those lefts strayed low and drew a warning from referee Harvey Dock, but no matter where they landed, they were doing damage.

And Peterson, four days shy of his 34th birthday and in his first fight in 11 months, seemed to have trouble getting untracked for the first two rounds. He finally joined the party in round three, scoring with several left hooks to the body and at least one good one to the head, but they had no discernible effect on Spence, who moved ever forward.

The fourth round was the turning point, when it became obvious that even with his best shot, Peterson could not dent Spence. But even after the fifth-round knockdown, from a left that landed high on Petersons head, Spence remained disciplined, which allowed a wobbly Peterson to somehow survive what felt like an endless final two minutes of the round.

Spence (23-0, 20 knockouts) stuck to his game plan in the sixth, pumping his jab, which raised a mouse over Petersons left eye. Meanwhile, Spences lefts to the head had reduced Petersons right eye to a slit.
“I could tell Lamont was wobbling before I got him down. It was just a great feeling to put on a strong performance.

Thurman has never seemed enthusiastic about the prospect for facing Spence.

If nothing else, Spences performance justified his inclusion among the worlds best pound-for-pound performers, and buttressed his claim of being the worlds best welterweight. The ultimate showdown at 147 pounds, a fight between Spence and Keith Thurman, will have to wait until 2019, and assuming Thurman was watching, perhaps longer than that.

Everybody knows Ive been waiting on ‘Sometimes’ Thurman, Spence said. Since I was 15-0 Ive been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses.

Absent a Thurman fight, however, the logical next move for Spence would seem to be a fight with Danny Garcia, who suffered his only career loss to Thurman at Barclays last March.

Stephen Espinoza, the general manager of Showtime Sports, told RingTV.com that the U.S. cable network is reserving a June date for Spence with an eye toward Garcia as the opponent, provided the two-division champ defeats Brandon Rios on Feb. 17. Barclays Center is scheduled to host the JUne return of Spence, who remains focused on a unification bout with Thurman.

“I want Keith Thurman, Spence said. It’s an easy fight to make and I want it.”

But as Lamont Peterson so painfully learned, theres nothing easy about a fight with Errol Spence.

***

In the semi-final bout, the announced crowd of 12,107 which appeared considerably smaller — lustily booed the split decision awarded IBF lightweight champ Robert Easter Jr. over Javier Fortuna. It was an an interesting, somewhat sloppy bout between two willing but awkward fights. Easter (21-0, 14KOs) failed to use his significant height and reach edges to his advantage, and had trouble coping with Fortunas southpaw style and unpredictable attack. Easter won on two cards (115-112 and 114-113). The third card had Fortuna a 114-113 winner.

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