Canelo Alvarez entered dressing room No. 7 at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, September 16, at 5:02 PM. The partition that normally separates Rooms 7 and 8 had been moved aside, creating a space roughly 60 feet long and 20 feet wide. Five black leather armchairs, a black leather sofa and 14 cushioned folding chairs were spread around the floor.
The walls were gray with fuchsia trim. The carpet was maroon and black. Four huge Golden Boy backdrops were strategically hung from poles around the room so that one of them would be visible from every camera angle. Two large Mexican flags and a large flat-screen television monitor were on separate walls. A Tecate backdrop stood in a corner.
The ceilings were high with recessed lighting. The room was big enough for a pick-up basketball game.
Alvarez was wearing a cobalt-blue tracksuit with gold lettering and white trim that matched the trunks and robe he would wear later in the night. The words on the back of his jacket read “Never Feared Anyone.” The other members of his 16-man team, which included his father and four of his brothers, were similarly dressed.
When a fighter reaches star status, his dressing room reflects his own personal rhythm. Ricky Hatton’s dressing room was a madhouse from the moment he walked in the door. There was booming music. Hatton never stopped dancing, throwing punches and bouncing around except when his hands were being taped. Bernard Hopkins, by contrast, would engage in quiet conversation until the end stages of preparation when he morphed into Executioner mode.
Alvarez likes a low-key, quiet atmosphere in the hours before a fight. Reggae music played softly in the background for the next few hours and the conversation was limited.
Canelo sat on the sofa. A dozen members of his team took chairs around the room. Chepo Reynoso unpacked the corner equipment and put it next to Canelo’s trunks, groin protector, shoes and robe on one of four long tables that stretched along the wall adjacent to the door.
Chepo is the patriarch of Team Alvarez. He’s the one who began the process of molding Canelo into a fighter when the 13-year-old boy walked into a gym in Guadalajara 14 years ago and a journey to manhood began.
Later, the people around Canelo realized that, someday, he might be great.
Chepo still oversees Alvarez’s training. His son, Eddy, does the hands-on work. Four years ago, after Canelo lost to Floyd Mayweather, a lot of people told him it was time to move away from the Reynosos. They could just as easily have told him to change his parents.
“This is beyond boxing,” Canelo says of the Reynosos. “I met them when I was 13 years old. They are my family.”
Chepo has the face of a man who has seen the hard side of life. It’s a face that says, even if life breaks your heart, it doesn’t have to break you. And it’s a kind face.
“I’m a happy man,” Chepo said during fight week. “I’ve been married to my love for 43 years.”
Before leaving the hotel on fight night, Chepo gathered everyone on Team Alvarez together for a short prayer: “God, please, let no one be badly hurt. If we win, we win. It is in your hands.”
MGM Grand president Richard Sturm came into Canelo’s dressing room with several sponsor representatives. Canelo rose from the sofa, shook hands with each of them and sat down again. Then he took out his smartphone, checked for messages and began texting.
Times and pre-fight rituals have changed. It’s hard to imagine Rocky Marciano texting in his dressing room before a fight.
When Canelo had finished texting, he leaned back on the sofa, arms folded across his chest. There were more well-wishers and sponsor representatives, each of whom wanted a handshake and smartphone photo. Chepo looked on with an air of resignation. Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz orchestrated the procession well. The visitors were soon gone.
Eddy Reynoso took a seat to Canelo’s left. For the most part, they sat silently, engaging in only sporadic conversation. Other members of the entourage sat or stood quietly in a large semi-circle with Canelo as the focal point.
Alvarez turned his attention to the TV monitor on the wall. The first televised undercard fight of the evening was underway. Occasionally, he rested his forearms on his thighs or raised his left hand to stroke his chin.
HBO production coordinator Tami Cotel entered with Max Kellerman for a brief pre-fight interview. After they left, Canelo lay down on the floor, put two rolled-up towels beneath his head, folded his hands across his chest and closed his eyes.
The room was quiet except for the soft music in the background. Canelo opened his eyes from time to time, looked briefly at the TV monitor and closed his eyes again. His face seemed to radiate the vulnerability of a boy. It’s a young face for someone who’s 27 years old and has engaged in more than 50 professional fights over the course of 12 years.
In two hours, the eyes of the world would be upon him as he engaged in brutal combat.
Golden Boy president Eric Gomez came in, circled the room and shook hands with everyone. He was followed by Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who entered with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and referee Kenny Bayless.
Bayless gave the fighter his pre-fight instructions. When he was done, Chepo requested that the referee warn Golovkin about hitting behind the head and to be vigilant about the infraction during the fight.
“Please, from the first time you see it, address it,” Chepo said.
Bayless promised that he would.
Canelo put on his trunks, stood up, stretched while pacing around the room, yawned and went back to watching the TV monitor.
It was hard to imagine that, in a little more than an hour, this quiet, almost passive young man would transform into an instrument of destruction.
Victor Espinoza, who won horseracing’s Triple Crown onboard American Pharoah two years ago, came in and wished Alvarez well.
At 6:45, Canelo dropped to the floor and did 20 push-ups followed by a series of stomach crunches, his first exercise of the evening. Then he asked that his hands be taped.
An inspector was dispatched to Golovkin’s dressing room to summon the customary witness. A minute later, he returned and reported, “Abel Sanchez says he was told the taping would be at 7 o’clock. He won’t be here until 7.”
NSAC chief inspector Francisco Soto, who was assigned to Canelo’s dressing room, wasn’t pleased.
“Tell him we start in two minutes whether he’s here or not,” Soto said.
Eddy began taping Canelo’s left hand.
A thin layer of gauze. Tape. More gauze.
“You can’t do that,” Sanchez protested. “It’s stacking.”
“It’s done by everybody and his mother,” Soto said.
“I won’t allow it,” Sanchez persisted. “I’ll file a protest.”
The taping continued with a second layer of tape.
“You can’t do that,” Sanchez said again.
“Abel,” Soto warned, “you have to stop or send someone else over here.”
At 7:12, the taping was done. Sanchez left. He was not a happy camper.
“There are a lot of things that aren’t specifically forbidden by the rules,” Abel said after the fight. “But you aren’t allowed to do them because they’re wrong. Stacking is illegal. Just because some people get away with it doesn’t make it right.”
Canelo’s family and the members of his entourage who wouldn’t be in his corner left the room. Canelo hugged each of them as they departed. Then he put on his protective cup and trunks. Eddy Reynoso applied Vaseline to his face, arms and legs.
Canelo began shadow-boxing to rhythmic clapping from the members of his team who were left.
The mood was changing. There was an undercurrent of nervous energy. Part of the price a fighter pays for competing is that he can be beaten up.
Canelo paced back and forth.
Abel Sanchez returned at 7:40. Chepo gloved Canelo up, left hand first.
When that task was done, Eddy held up a round black leather cushion with both hands and moved it from position to position as Canelo punched. That was followed by Eddy swinging two yellow styrofoam tubes in Canelo’s direction as the fighter parried or evaded them by bobbing and weaving.
There was a minute of traditional padwork.
“We can teach him,” Eddy has said. “But in the ring, he has to make his own decisions.”
HBO production coordinator Tami Cotel returned and announced, “Six minutes until your opponent walks.”
Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins entered and wished Alvarez well.
Canelo had been in his dressing room for three hours. There had been relatively little exertion. But he was ready.
It had been agreed that Golovkin would be introduced last but walk to the ring first. The partisan crowd of 22,358 let out a near-deafening roar as Canelo made his way down the aisle. They were there for what they hoped would be the dawn of a new era in boxing.
Michael Buffer introduced the fighters. Excitement inside the arena was at a fever pitch.
The fighters fought cautiously in the opening rounds, each one showing respect for the other’s power. Golovkin advanced behind an aggressive jab. Canelo had the faster hands and seemed to land the cleaner punches. But Gennady kept stalking his man, landing more often than his counterpart.
Rounds 4 through 9 belonged largely to Golovkin, who took control of the fight. He increased his output of power punches while Alvarez circled away and fought off the ropes, shaking his head when Gennady landed and also when Gennady missed. What Canelo didn’t do was land enough effective punches of his own and make Golovkin pay for his misses.
Canelo is a counterpuncher. But as a general rule, he’s quick to exchange when an opponent wants to. Here, more often than not, he didn’t.
“Gennady will go out and do what he does best,” Abel Sanchez had said before the fight. “And Canelo will have to adapt to it.”
Now, whatever Alvarez did, Golovkin moved forward. Even when Canelo landed solidly, Gennady walked through the blows.
There were outbursts of furious action that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Neither fighter, particularly Golovkin, went to the body as often as might have been expected. Afterward, Sanchez would explain, “Canelo’s movement and quicker hands made going to the body difficult. He counters well. A couple of times, I asked Gennady to go to the body a bit more, but he didn’t feel the opportunities were there.”
Still, Golovkin was fighting confidently. And Alvarez seemed to be fading in the face of his adversary’s power.
The action was intense from beginning to end. There was no margin for error. A fight isn’t like Microsoft Word. A fighter can’t simply click “command-Z” to undo a mistake.
Then, remarkably, Canelo turned the tide.
A fighter doesn’t win fights by taking big punches. But if he can take big punches, it can keep him in the fight.
Alvarez took Golovkin’s punches better than anyone else had before. Gennady is accustomed to seeing opponents crumble as he grinds them down. Canelo didn’t crumble. He came back strong.
In round 10, Alvarez launched his most effective sustained assault of the fight. Now it was Golovkin’s turn to take punches and fight back hard. But he was no longer in control.
Heart, courage, stamina, skill. Each man showed it all. They were warriors in the finest tradition of boxing and fought hard until the end. It was a superb fight.
Some of the rounds were difficult to score. The consensus at ringside was that Golovkin had done enough in the middle rounds to win. Then Michael Buffer announced the scoring of the judges.
Boxing fans have a sense of justice. Adelaide Byrd’s tally was the first that Buffer read: 118-110 for Alvarez. That was greeted with disbelief from the crowd, as though Buffer had incorrectly read the score.
Dave Moretti was next: 115-113 for Golovkin.
And finally, Don Trella: 114-114, a draw.
Several days after the fight, Abel Sanchez told this writer, “I scored it seven rounds to five for Gennady. I can’t argue with a draw.”
But Adelaide Byrd’s 118-110 scorecard cast a pall over the proceedings. If she had scored the bout 115-113 for Alvarez, the result would still have been a draw but the decision would have smelled better.
Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos
Hall of Fame sportswriter Red Smith was fond of saying, “If you want to know who won a fight, just ask a 9-year-old kid who watched it.”
A 9-year-old kid would have known that Byrd’s scorecard was a travesty. Promoters and fighters have objected to her erratic judging in the past, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission continues to assign her to important fights.
In this instance, NSAC executive director Bob Bennett acknowledged that Byrd’s scorecard was “a little wide.” That’s like saying that, after Hurricane Harvey, Houston got “a little wet.” Thereafter, Bennett backtracked and acknowledged, “In any business, sometimes you have a bad day. It happens. I’m not going to put her right back in. She’ll still be in the business but she needs to catch her breath. Unfortunately, she didn’t do well.”
Millions of dollars and fighters’ careers hang on a judge’s judgment. Things happen in boxing that aren’t expected to happen. And things happen that aren’t supposed to happen. There’s a difference.
After the fight, Canelo sat in a black leather chair in a corner of his dressing room with a disconsolate look on his face. He thought he’d won and was bitterly disappointed.
Eddy and Chepo Reynoso sat on either side of him. Several toddlers who had no idea what had happened an hour earlier were asleep in their mothers’ arms or scurrying around the room.
The judges think he punches like a monster,” Alvarez said. “So when his punches landed, he got more credit for them that I got for mine. My punches were just as hard as his – harder.”
Still, the lumps and bruises on Canelo’s face bore witness to the fact that he’d been in the ring with his equal as a fighter.
Eric Gomez entered the room. “Nobody lost here tonight,” he reminded the assemblage.
Each fighter kept the titles he’d had when the evening began. A rematch on Cinco De Mayo 2018 would be nice.
In recent years, it has been lamented that a fighting spirit is no longer prerequisite to being a star in boxing. Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez each evidenced a fighting spirit. Their battle was a celebration of boxing.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His next book – “There Will Always Be Boxing” – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.
Jarrell Miller, a man with the look and charisma to be a heavyweight star, is finally going to be seen by the masses.
“Big Baby” has competed several times on “ShoBox: The New Generation,” but never on the network’s championship boxing offering. Now, he’s jumping across the aisle to HBO, and will fight in the co-feature to Daniel Jacobs-Luis Arias on November 11, sources told RingTV.com.
Miller, a Brooklynite, will face Mariusz Wach close to home at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York, per sources. Miller did not immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.
The braggadocious big man stopped Gerald Washington in July, his toughest competition to date. The victory earned Miller (19-0-1, 17 knockouts) entry into THE RING’s heavyweight rankings at No. 10, and now, the former kickboxing champion will have the opportunity show his stuff on a marquee platform.
Miller, at 6-foot-4, weighed a staggering 298.5 pounds for the Washington bout, but impressed with his nimble movement and pressure style. The 29-year-old stalked Washington and eventually finished him in Round 8. And his workrate was incredible for a heavyweight of that size, although Miller admits his best fighting weight is somewhere perhaps 25 pounds south.
Wach, a former title challenger who lasted the distance with Wladimir Klitschko in 2012, possesses great size at 6-foot-7 1/2 and about 260 pounds, but he’s a stationary target. Wach (33-2, 17 KOs) has had just one meaningful bout since the Klitschko setback, a 12th-round stoppage defeat on cuts to Alexander Povetkin in 2015.
The 37-year-old Pole was slated to face Dillian Whyte in May, but the Brit withdrew with a foot injury.
This fight isn’t about Wach though.
It’s a showcase for Miller, and a chance for HBO — in the wake of Klitschko’s retirement and Anthony Joshua’s partnership with Showtime — to wiggle its way back into the heavyweight picture.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger
Jezreel Corrales is ready to own the big stage by himself.
The Panamanian was an unknown commodity to the American public one year ago, but following an upset knockout win over Takashi Uchiyama and then a second defeat over the Japanese stalwart, it was clear he was a player at 130 pounds.
Corrales (22-1, 8 knockouts) parlayed those wins into a deal with Golden Boy Promotions and his HBO debut came in July with a technical decision over Robinson Castellanos.
Now, Corrales will make the third defense of his WBA lightweight title with his own main event appearance on the network when he takes on Alberto Machado at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, on October 21, it was announced Monday.
“I am very excited to fight for a second time on HBO, but this time in the headlining bout of a great event,” said Corrales, 26. “I know that Alberto Machado is a strong fighter, but I too am strong and intelligent. I know that my style of fighting will give him a lot of problems. I’m confident that I will defend my title for the third time successfully.”
Machado (18-0, 15 KOs) has never competed for a world title. He’s never even faced a top-10 opponent. The Golden Boy-promoted prospect will jump up to the championship level against a tricky southpaw who can punch after a career fighting carefully picked opponents.
The Puerto Rican can make up for the disparity in experience with his tremendous size (5-foot-10, four inches more than Corrales) and his great power. He’s never fought outside his home country, but his last bout, a 10-round decision over Carlos Morales, was televised by ESPN.
“I am very happy and ready to face the great champion Jezreel Corrales,” said Machado, 27. “I know that it won’t be an easy fight, but I am more motivated then ever to take this title to my family and to Puerto Rico, who really needs it during this time of grief.
“This fight is for my son, my family, and for Puerto Rico. I know that a victory would bring happiness to Puerto Rico after the destruction caused by hurricane Maria. HBO is the television channel that each boxer wants to be on in order to keep moving on to better things, as was done by great Puerto Rican boxers such as Miguel Cotto, Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad, and Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho.”
Junior middleweight contender Demetrius Andrade will fight in the HBO co-feature, RingTV.com previously reported, though his bout wasn’t included in Monday’s announcement.
Jorge Linares: For three rounds, the RING lightweight champion looked as if he should be considered for the pound-for-pound Top 10. For the remaining nine, he looked vulnerable.
Linares was fortunate to emerge with a split-decision victory over Luke Campbell in defense of his RING and WBA titles Saturday at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The Venezuelan was brilliant in the early rounds, baffling Campbell with his all-around ability and putting the British fighter down with a straight right in Round 2.
It looked as if a rout was on. And then it wasn’t.
Campbell found a groove, fighting tall behind his long jab and landing enough power shots to keep Linares honest. I wouldn’t say that Linares was neutralized but he certainly was less effective in the middle rounds, which allowed Campbell to climb back into the fight. Linares had to rally in the final rounds to win and, to his credit, he did.
“I was surprised that Linares stopped throwing combinations,” said Oscar De La Hoya, the Linares’ American promoter. “Every time he threw three punches, he always landed the third punch. Then he started throwing one punch at a time.”
In the end, it was a solid performance from Linares. The problem is that many expect a lot more than “solid” from Linares, who I call “the beautiful boxer” because of his combination of skill, speed and athleticism.
I would give Linares (43-3, 27 knockouts) a chance to beat anyone around his weight class but I wouldn’t favor him over some. That includes fellow lightweight titleholder Mikey Garcia, a prospective opponent. I’ve thought for some time that Linares’ style – constant movement – would give Garcia some trouble but eventually the American would cut off the ring and stop him.
Nothing I saw on this past Saturday changed my mind.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Luke Campbell: This is a case of winning in spite of losing.
Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs) was a respected fighter going into Saturday night. He won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, which made him a notable figure in the U.K. He had only one loss as a professional, to Frenchman Yvan Mendy when Campbell wasn’t at his best. But he had never faced an opponent anywhere near Linares’ ability.
The matchup gave us a good opportunity to gauge how good Campbell really is. The reviews were good.
He overcame what he acknowledged was a miserable start to the fight, evidence that he can overcome adversity. He made adjustments around the fourth round, evidence that he is an intelligent fighter. He matched skills with an outstanding opponent for most of the fight, evidence that he is a gifted boxer.
And he did all that with a heavy heart: Campbell lost his father to cancer a few weeks before the fight, which makes his performance all the more remarkable.
Campbell might’ve won the fight had he fought with more urgency the last few rounds, when Linares picked up his pace just enough to pull out the decision. Judge Max DeLuca, who scored the fight 114-113 for Linares, gave the winner the 11th and 12th rounds. Had Campbell won just one of those rounds on DeLuca’s card, he would’ve won the fight.
An opportunity was lost. Had Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs) won, given the magnitude of his accomplishment and his Olympic pedigree, he probably would’ve been the second biggest boxing star in the United Kingdom after Anthony Joshua.
The fact that didn’t happen must be painful for him and his handlers, who obviously traveled to Los Angeles to win.
Campbell made a strong statement in defeat, though: He proved that he belonged in the ring with one of the most talented fighters in the world. And he made it clear that the best is yet to come.
118-110 for Parker: Here we go again.
A week after judge Adalaide Byrd gave Gennady Golovkin only two rounds in his close fight with Canelo Alvarez, judges John Madfis (U.S.) Terry O’Connor (U.K.) gave Hughie Fury only two rounds in his close title fight with Joseph Parker on Saturday in Manchester, England.
The fight was a lot closer to the 114-114 card of Rocky Young (U.S.) than it was to the cards of his colleagues. Either fighter could’ve won.
I can speculate as to why Madfis and O’Connor scored the fight as they did; Parker pushed the action from beginning to end, which many judges seem to believe is imperative to win a fight. A largely frustrated Parker didn’t land many punches, though.
That can be attributed in good part to Fury, whose defensive skills are impressive for such a big man (6 feet 6 inches). Plus, he did a nice job countering here and there when Parker rushed inside.
Fury has to accept some of the blame for the setback. A fighter who fights in a defensive manner must be busier than he was to control a fight. He simply didn’t throw enough punches to argue that he was the victim of an unfair overall decision.
I thought he won the fight 115-113 but the same score for Parker would’ve been acceptable.
But 118-110 from two judges? Crazy. He and his handlers had the right to be livid after the decision was announced. And so do others who care about the sport.
Byrd’s absurd score tainted an entertaining fight between Canelo and GGG, which damaged the sport. The scores of Madfis and O’Connor left some of us with a similar feeling. The powers that be need to figure this out. It’s out of control.
Featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) and Genesis Servania (29-1, 12 KOs) engaged in a wild, fast-paced scrap Friday in Tucson, as each fighter tried to end matters with every punch they threw and each went down. Valdez emerged with the victory but the fans also were winners. Question: How many wars like that can Valdez endure before they start to take a toll? That was a brutal fight. …
Gilberto Ramirez (36-0, 24 KOs) defeated Jesse Hart (22-1, 18 KOs) by a unanimous, but close decision on the Valdez-Servania card. Ramirez is a solid fighter but nothing special. Hart probably is no better than that. I’ll say this about the loser, though: I thought he was in over his head and finished in the second round, when he went down hard and was hurt. He not only survived that but battled back to make it close fight. No one can question his determination. …
Yunier Dorticos and Dmitry Kudryashov entered their cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series fight Saturday in San Antonio with a combined record of 42-1, with 41 knockouts. A stoppage seemed inevitable. And it was Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs) who scored it, putting Kudryashov (21-2, 21 KOs) away with a big right hand in the second round. I still favor Oleksandr Usyk to win the WBSS tournament but Dorticos is a threat because of his power. …
Former four-division titleholder Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24 KOs) bounced back from his unanimous-decision loss to Jessie Magdaleno last November by outpointing Ruben Hernandez (22-3-1, 9 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight fight on the Dorticos-Kudryashov card. I don’t know what Donaire has left at 34 but his name carries some weight. He’ll probably get at least one more shot at a world title.
First of all, can I just congratulate Luke Campbell and Jorge Linares (who is one of my favourite fighters) on a great, respectful build up (that’s what real men do) and a fascinating, technical match up.
My question is: do you think Coolhand did enough to win? Victor Loughlin had him winning by two and so did I! The knockdown was a bad one but other than that I thought it was a fantastic performance.
Did you see the Fury/Parker match up and what is your match report? Respect. – Mark
I did not see the Joseph Parker-Tyson Fury fight, Mark. From what I’ve been told and from the highlights I’ve seen on YouTube, it looks like Parker was given way too much credit for his forward-moving (but largely ineffective) aggression by two of the official judges (who had it 118-110 for the defending WBO heavyweight beltholder; the third judge had it even at 114-114, as you probably know).
I knew Fury was going to be a handful for Parker. Like his cousin, he moves very well for a such a big man. He’s got a lot of ring savvy for a 23 year old, and an educated jab, good timing and reflexes, accurate counter-punching ability and having no problem using his size by holding on the inside is all part of that difficult package.
THE RING magazine editor Michael Rosenthal watched the fight live and thought Fury won seven rounds to five. Rosenthal was impressed with Fury’s athleticism.
My guess is what held Fury back in the eyes of the official judges is that he wasn’t able to rock or hurt Parker, who appeared rather sloppy in the highlights I saw (although, in the New Zealander’s defense, I believe it’s going to be very hard for any heavyweight to look good against Hughie).
However, I think Fury and the other title challengers who came up short via decision this past weekend – Campbell, Jesse Hart and Genesis Servania – all have bright futures in their respective divisions. I think they all showed the boxing world what makes them special and they all gained valuable championship experience that will advance their development.
Regarding Campbell, I thought he gave Linares fits and boxed very well in spots, but I don’t think he did enough to earn THE RING and WBA lightweight titles on Saturday. More than a few members of the ringside press scored every round from the fourth to the 10th (or 11th) for the Olympic gold medalist from England, but I thought there were close/competitive rounds that he did just enough to lose to Linares – including Rounds 5, 7 and 8. Had he won those rounds on my card and two of the final three rounds, he could have just nicked it. But even giving Cambpell the benefit of the doubt in the close rounds, I still think Linares deserved to retain his belts (if only via a draw verdict) because he decisively took the 12th and he knocked an extra point off the challenger’s tally with the second-round knockdown.
But Campbell was brilliant in spots and his height, size (he looked like a welterweight from ringside) and very solid fundamentals made an elite-level veteran boxer look ordinary. I just think he needed to heed his corner and let his hands go more. But even without taking risks, I think Campbell will be a “cool-handful” (see what I did there?) for any of the top lightweights, including the other major titleholders.
What’s up doug? Hope your well,
What a weekend of boxing!! Friday night fights are what boxing is all about; unbeaten fighters going to war to try make a name for themselves!! Oscar Valdez is fun to watch; he has power, skill, heart and is vulnerable. Where does he go from here? How would he do against Carl Frampton? Gilberto Ramirez vs Jesse Hart was a war with both giving and taking. I felt the knockdown and Zurdo’s body punching edged it. I would’ve liked to see hart go to the body more but great fight nonetheless…where do both go?
I think Linares won by a couple rounds on Saturday and I think Luke Campbell needed that experience and it will help him going forward. I’ve been following him since he beat my countryman John Joe Nevin in the Olympics and he’s nearly the full package – he’s tall, rangy, fast, has power in both hands (especially to the body), but there’s two things I think Jorge Rubio needs to iron out and he’ll be very hard to beat
1) his jab: although it was better Saturday he flicks it too much and can be timed… he needs to sit down on it more.
2) his upper body is very stiff… he needs to loosen up and relax a bit more, which he done after the knockdown.
Both are amateur traits he developed over years, have you seen a top amateur that just couldn’t shake old habits, Dougie? Where do both go from here? Not sure I’d back Linares against Garcia.
Yunier Dorticos could be the dark horse of this tournament. He has real, scary power. Keep up the good work. – David, Dublin
Dorticos is for real. I figured he would take Kudryashov into deep water and drown the Russian slugger, but he forced a shootout in the second round and was able to remain safe behind his fast, rangy jab and straight right. From the onset of the cruiserweight match, the Cuban was quicker, sharper and more mobile. I thought Kudryashov looked painfully slow and plodding by comparison. And The Russian Hammer played right into The KO Doctor’s laser-straight right hand by languishing right in front of the Cuban. Once that bomb detonated against his temple, you just knew Kudry would be unable to unscramble his brains in time to beat the count.
I’m really looking forward to watching the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament play out.
Oscar Valdez is fun to watch; he has power, skill, heart and is vulnerable.Indeed, the WBO featherweight beltholder is must-see TV.It will be interesting to see if Top Rank can build him into an attraction in Tucson or Southern California.
Where does he go from here?Bob Arum told ringside reporters that he wants to try to match Valdez with Carl Frampton sometime next year. I’m not sure he’s ready for The Jackal but I have to figure he’s done a lot of growing with his last two fights.
How would he do against Carl Frampton?If they fight within their next two bouts, I would favor the Belfast native by decision in a good scrap.
Gilberto Ramirez vs Jesse Hart was a war with both giving and taking.It might have been the fight of the weekend.
I felt the knockdown and Zurdo’s body punching edged it.I thought Ramirez clearly won. I didn’t think it was up for grabs at all, although Hart put forth a courageous and admirable performance in surviving the early rounds, clawing his way back into the bout during the middle rounds and not wilting under the defending WBO 168-pound titleholder’s body attack.
I would’ve liked to see hart go to the body more but great fight nonetheless…where do both go?Ramirez could be in the running for a showdown with Gennady Golovkin if Team GGG can’t reach a deal with Team Canelo and Golden Boy to stage an immediate rematch with the redheaded Mexican star. Ramirez-Golovkin would be quite the ticket seller in Texas or Southern California.
If not, he’s probably got a voluntary defense against another Top Rank stablemate (maybe Trevor McCumby, who ranked in the WBO’s top five). A defense against former middleweight contender and Russian amateur star Matvey Korobov (remember him? He’s also in the WBO’s top five) would be an interesting and dangerous matchup.
I think Linares won by a couple rounds on Saturday and I think Luke Campbell needed that experience and it will help him going forward. I agree 100%.
I’ve been following him since he beat my countryman John Joe Nevin in the Olympics and he’s nearly the full package – he’s tall, rangy, fast, has power in both hands (especially to the body)…Campbell is also very big and sturdy and he’s got rock-solid fundamentals (which isn’t surprising given his amateur background).
… but there’s two things I think Jorge Rubio needs to iron out and he’ll be very hard to beat:
1) his jab: although it was better Saturday he flicks it too much and can be timed… he needs to sit down on it more.Agree 100%.
2) his upper body is very stiff… he needs to loosen up and relax a bit more, which he done after the knockdown.Agree 100%
Both are amateur traits he developed over years, have you seen a top amateur that just couldn’t shake old habits, Dougie?Of course! Show me an amateur standout that wasn’t able to cut it on the world-class professional scene and I’ll show you a boxer that couldn’t evolve from his amateur style/form/habits. Audley Harrison, the 2000 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, comes to mind. To me, “A-Force” always looked like an amateur boxer in the pro ranks.
Where do both go from here?I think Campbell heads back to the U.K. for a big domestic battle with the winner of the Oct. 7 Anthony Crolla-Ricky Burns fight and then looks to move up the IBF rankings (where he’s the No. 4 contender for Robert Easter Jr.’s belt). Eddie Hearn will keep him busy and make the right moves to get him back into a title fight before the end of 2018. Linares says he wants to unify titles, which could mean another trip back to Merry Ole England for a showdown with WBO beltholder Terry Flanagan and, of course, he will continue to beat the drums for a hardcore fan dream match vs. Mikey Garcia.
Not sure I’d back Linares against Garcia.I wouldn’t expect Linares to have the same kind of trouble he experienced against Campbell against the much shorter, orthodox-boxing Garcia – in fact, I think the Venezuelan would look very good against the pound-for-pound rated Southern Californian – but I think Mikey would eventually clip his fellow three-division beltholder before the 12th round.
FIGHT NIGHT IN TUCSON
This is my report from Tucson :).
In the middle of the Vald?z fight, the guy sitting next to me said: “they are not serving cupcakes tonight”. That’s a fitting way to describe the main event, and the Zurdo-Hart contest.
Vald?z-Servania was a pretty entertaining show. I didn’t know Servania. Now, and I want to know him more. He is a small beast who was wrongly viewed as a sacrificial lamb for the Nogales-native/Tucson-adopted son.
I had the fight 117-110 for The Mexican. He was more effective and busier. However, he did drop his hands a bit and got clipped too many times. He needs to correct that flaw or he’ll endure a long night against LSC or Frampton.
His left hook was absolutely his money punch. My guess is that he was sure he’d get a KO in front of his adoring fans. He was a little surprised that the Filipino had a different idea and tried a little bit too hard to put his rival out. But you know what? As Aerosmith says, that’s F.I.N.E. fine. Actually, that’s great. And that’s why he’s headlining cards and putting butts in the seats.
Speaking about his rival, only a monster could recover from the knockdown he suffered and storm back right into the fight’s soul. Respect to Servania. Genesis almost became Oscar’s Apocalypse. I’d like to see this guy again.
Zurdo Ramirez and Jessie Hart also performed very well. Sometimes I get a little desperate, for I think the Mexican is a little bit too patient. He had the better chin, and wasted that opportunity. He could have used that advantage by trading a little bit more. He was more dangerous and more durable. I have no doubt that he was the better fighter, I just think he could have inflicted more damage to Hart. Hart, however, was no cupcake, either. He gave a spirited effort against the crowd favorite and could have done a little bit more had he not been knocked down. I also had the fight 117-110, but the official scores were a lot closer than mine. The Philly native should walk with his head high.
What do you think about the future of Conlan and Conceicao? I liked the Brazilian’s skill set. I hope he develops well. – Carlos, from Hermosillo, M?xico
I think Robson gets a little wild and wide with his offense but he’s a good athlete and obviously he knows his way around the ring, the junior lightweight is a three-time Brazilian Olympian (and 2016 gold medal winner). I don’t know how far he can go, he’s already 28 years old and only five bouts into his pro career. He doesn’t appear to have Lomachenko- or Rigo-level ability, so I don’t see him winning a world title in his next few bouts. But, he’s already a star in Brazil and I’m sure Top Rank can at least develop him into an entertaining TV fighter in the U.S.
Conlan’s also an amateur standout and star in his country (Ireland), but he’s three years younger than Conceicao, which gives him a little more time to develop into a well-rounded pro. Conlan is in a very competitive division (junior featherweight) but he’s got a good young trainer (Manny Robles), a strong training environment (Southern California) and Top Rank is the most accomplished and experienced American promoter in developing talent while building the boxer’s fan base, so “Mick” is in good hands. We’ll see what happens in the next year or two.
Ramirez (left) and Hart go at it during their dramatic super middleweight title bout. Photo / @TRboxing
You thought Ramirez “could have inflicted more damage to Hart”? Jesus, man, and I thought I was a blood-thirsty ghoul. Ramirez inflicted plenty of damage Hart. He initiated most of the action in my view and soundly outworked the tough and talented Philly fighter. I generally do not enjoy watching Zurdo ply his technical craft but he Hart made him an entertaining fighter this past Friday. I was impressed with both super middleweights.
In the middle of the Vald?z fight, the guy sitting next to me said: “they are not serving cupcakes tonight”. That’s a fitting way to describe the main event, and the Zurdo-Hart contest.Yup, they were not playing patty cake in that Tucson ring on Friday, and they weren’t trying to be defensive wizards, either, that was some hardcore prize FIGHTING we saw with those two WBO title bouts and I think they combined to make the most entertaining TV card of the weekend.
Vald?z-Servania was a pretty entertaining show.It certainly had its moments of drama.
I didn’t know Servania. Now, and I want to know him more. He is a small beast who was wrongly viewed as a sacrificial lamb for the Nogales-native/Tucson-adopted son.I don’t know why some fans and media (and ESPN) were looking at Servania as some kind of “gimme” for Valdez. The hometown fighter deserved to be a solid favorite, but I told anyone who would listen (as did some of my peers, such as Steve Kim, Mike Baca and Ryan Songalia) that Servania was going to bring the ruckus and that this matchup would be an “action fight” and could feature “knockdowns” and its share of “crazy back-and-forth slugfest stuff.” I think we’ll see Servania again. He still young (26), he’s still ranked (and will likely remain in the WBO’s top 10), he’s got a good record (29-1) and people in the U.S. now know he makes for good fights/TV.
I had the fight 117-110 for The Mexican. He was more effective and busier.I agree, but I can’t give you an opinion on your scorecard. I didn’t bother scoring it. Sometimes I just want to watch a good fight and enjoy it.
However, he did drop his hands a bit and got clipped too many times.Indeed. And, as usual, I think he loaded up a bit too much on each shot and sometimes forgot to punch in combination.
He needs to correct that flaw or he’ll endure a long night against LSC or Frampton.I agree. And I’d favor those veterans to outpoint him, but I think his heart and conditioning would enable him to compete with both.
PISSED AT ESPN
I am currently trying to watch Zurdo Ramirez vs Jesse Hart on ESPN and this channel doesn’t start airing the fight until the fifth round and about an hour after advertised. Then in the middle of the late start they switch back to some damn football game!!!!
I’m a huge fan of boxing and this is quite frustrating to say the least. I’m assuming that your keyboard reaches far more people than mine ever could. So, is it possible that you could raise all kinds of a stink over this issue? If it helps, I’m on the west coast and the fights are advertised as beginning at 7:30 PM PST.
Respectfully. – Pissed in California
There’s not much I can do about the boxing hopscotch on the various ESPN channels. Unless Manny Pacquiao is fighting, the network is not going to cut from the preceding programming if it runs long in order to start the boxing on scheduled time. That’s just the way it is for now. And I’m sure the good folks at Top Rank have raised a stink over the issue.
For now, whenever you can’t find a boxing program scheduled to be on ESPN, switch to ESPN2 or ESPNews or even ESPN Deportes before you give up on watching the show. If a program runs long on ESPN they’ll try moving it to their other channels, and if there’s no room for boxing on the other ESPN TV platforms, you should try watching ESPN3 (the network’s online streaming service) or utilizing the ESPN App.
I’m sorry I sound like a damn ESPN commercial, but the boxing that’s been showcased on the “Worldwide Leader of Sports” this year has, for the most part, been pretty good and I’d hate for a real fan (even a pissed one) to miss out.
WHY IS U.S. TV PASSING ON THE WBSS?
First time, long time.
Not a fan of “streaming” fights.
I’m a bit disappointed that not a single US TV outlet picked up the opening rounds of the World Boxing Super Series.
Should I be surprised that not even a BeiN Sports would take a shot on broadcasting this round, not even the cruiserweights-only?
Too many Eastern Euros?
Are the broadcasting economics that bad, or are there other factors?
Any chance the later rounds would get picked up by Showtime or another cable outlet? Thanks! – Brock
I think there’s a solid chance that one of the major U.S. cable networks (probably Showtime) picks up the semifinals or finals of the cruiserweight and super middleweight tournaments.
As to why the quarterfinal bouts haven’t been showcased on American TV, I think it’s a combination of factors. The cruiserweights, for whatever reason, have never resonated with U.S. network executives. I have no idea why. Maybe there just haven’t been enough American standouts in the division. I think the Eastern European flavor probably keeps it off the Spanish-language networks, but I doubt it’s a huge factor in Showtime, HBO and ESPN passing on the opening rounds bouts of the WBSS. I just think that the big three have limited dates and strong relationships (or set contracts) with certain promoters. Showtime has its hands full with Al Haymon’s vast stable of talent (and some Eddie Hearn fighters, mainly Anthony Joshua). HBO main providers appear to be Golden Boy Promotions, K2 Promotions and Main Events now that Top Rank has left for ESPN. HBO also wants to be in the Eddie Hearn business, starting with Daniel Jacobs (and they no doubt want to snag A.J. from Showtime). ESPN has multi-fight/multi-year deals with GBP and Top Rank.
So, there isn’t much room for the ambitious WBSS venture organized by Comosa AG, Ringstar Sports and Sauerland Entertainment.
Personally, I think the U.S. networks are dropping the ball because I think all the quarterfinal bouts will be entertaining. But the networks are trying to save money and I’m sure that in the view of the executives the only cruiserweight worth his salt will be the unified titleholder and the only super middleweight fights that merit their airtime are the ones that match up the better-known titleholders/contenders (such as George Groves, Chris Eubank Jr. and Callum Smith), so they feel they can wait.
Thanks for finally writing in to the mailbag. Don’t be a stranger from now on.
IBHOF INDUCTEES 2022
With Andre Ward’s recent retirement news I noticed that there’s been a lot of retirements from top fighters announced this year.
Chocolatito (if he doesn’t continue)
Do you think all of them can get in IF they actually retire? Is there a limit for inductees per year?
Thanks & great reads as always. – Jamaal, Louisiana
There is a limit to the number of “Modern Boxer” inductees to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Jamaal. Only three can be elected each year from the list of 30 modern fighters.
Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley announced their retirements this year but their final bouts occurred in previous years (2014 for JMM; 2016 for Timmy), so they will be on the ballot and eligible for induction before the other boxers you mentioned.
Of the remaining group, I think the shoo-ins are Mayweather and Pacquiao. That third spot is up for grabs between Cotto, Klitschko and Ward; and a strong case can be made for either one, it all depends on what the voters value more – accomplishments, consistency, records, popularity, impact on the sport, etc.
Roman Gonzalez has not announced his retirement. Shane Mosley, who you did not list, announced his retirement in August, and it should go without saying that he’s also considered a first-ballot hall of famer.
CRAWFORD DESERVES TO BE NO. 1 P4P
Been a mailbag reader for about a year now and thank you because you’re one of the people who got me attached to the sport and I appreciate your work.
Gotta rant about Bud Crawford. Could you explain why he isn’t the #1 P4P fighter in your publication? I know it’s probably because of the weak competition in his divisions but on my eye test, he’s a special talent and the closest thing we’ve seen to Sugar Ray Robinson. He has the very rare ability to throw power punches in spectacular combinations, who doesn’t get tired when he sees a moment of weakness from an opponent and pounces like a panther (Loma and Kovalev are the only two who can do that in my opinion but not like he does). It’s not his fault that there’s no good competition for him around his weight class and I can’t penalize him for that. He’s at the point where he’s embarrassing everyone he faces and you don’t see that level very often. My only fear with him as far as a loss is that it takes about 4 rounds for him to find his rhythm and take over, but I think it’s him just reading out the opponent and finding their faults so he can pounce on it afterwards. He needs to face Mikey Garcia or Errol Spence to find a real challenge. Thoughts?
And what a fight between Golovkin and Canelo! Managed to talk a few non-boxing fans into buying the PPV and watching with me and they loved it.
Emile Griffith vs. Gennady Golovkin
Pernell Whitaker vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Lennox Lewis vs. Anthony Joshua
Thanks! – Cole, Ohio
I’ll go with GGG by split decision, Whitaker by majority or split decision (at welterweight; unanimous at 135 and 140 pounds), and Lewis by mid-round KO.
Regarding Crawford’s case for being the sport’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer, I think many fans and members of the media agree with you. He was No. 3 in THE RING’s pound-for-pound rankings (behind Ward and Golovkin) prior to Ward’s retirement, so I have to figure he’s in the running along with GGG to take over the top spot.
I think if you go by the ole “eye test,” Bud or Vasyl Lomachenko (whose currently No. 4) are the pound-for-pound best. If you appreciate a fighter’s dominance/consistency over time and his overall body of work, you may lean toward Golovkin.
You mentioned the relatively “weak competition” Crawford faced during his rise through the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions, and I think that’s the only factor keeping him from No. 1. It’s hard to say for certain that he’s the king of the elite boxers when the four best opponents on his resume are Viktor Postol, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Julius Indongo and either Ricky Burns or Ray Beltran.
Hopefully, a move to welterweight will provide Crawford with elite-level competition.
Sports have international appeal. Fans want to see the best athletes in the world compete against one another regardless of where they come from.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have thrilled tennis fans around the globe. Rory McIlroy has a huge following in golf. NBA stars Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis, Manu Gianobili and Pau Gasol are favorites in the American arenas where they ply their trade.
The most anticipated boxing match fought in the United States in 2017 was contested between fighters from Kazakhstan and Mexico.
Gennady Golovkin was born in Kazakhstan in 1982. After compiling a reported 345-5 amateur record and winning a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, he turned pro and won his first 37 professional bouts, scoring 33 knockouts in the process and claiming the WBC, WBA, and IBF 160-pound titles. He moved to California three years ago.
Golovkin’s opponents are unpleasantly surprised by his power when he hits them. The one important component that his resume lacks is a victory over an elite boxer in his prime.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez began boxing professionally in 2005 at age 15 and compiled a record of 49-1-1 (34 knockouts) en route to becoming one of boxing’s biggest stars.
The “Canelo” moniker is a marketing tool.
“A lot of family members and friends, they call me ‘Saul,’” Alvarez said during an August 8 media conference call. “Sometimes they call me ‘guero’. Sometimes they’ll slip and they’ll say ‘Canelo.’ It doesn’t matter to me. I accept it. That’s become natural for me. But mainly, close friends and family refer to me as ‘Saul.’”
Golden Boy President Eric Gomez and Director of Publicity Ramiro Gonzalez went to Guadalajara to meet with Alvarez before signing him to a promotional contract seven years ago.
“The first thing that struck me was how quiet and reserved and mature he was for his age,” Gomez recalls. “Then we started working with him. And Canelo has never disappointed us. He’s very responsible. He always takes care of business. In a drinking culture, he doesn’t drink. He’s a true professional.”
“He’s very respectful,” Gonzalez adds. “A little guarded with the media and in public. He is a private person and is quiet with people he doesn’t know. He’s stubborn, persistent, a hard worker and a perfectionist.”
Alvarez has been in the spotlight since he was an adolescent. The weight of great expectations has been on his shoulders for a long time. Now 27, he has defeated some of boxing’s biggest names, most notably Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto. But they were naturally smaller men and past their prime when he beat them. Victories over Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout also stand out on his resume.
Canelo takes questions from the media in English but answers in Spanish. He has a two-year lease on a house in San Diego, where he lives for much of the year, and spends the rest of his time in his hometown of Guadalajara. He was a star before his boxing skills warranted it but kept working to get better.
He’s much more than a fighter with red hair.
“My job, and I’m very fortunate, is to box,” Alvarez said last year. “I train hard and I give the best of me. I’m not trying to tap into my market. It’s just something very fortunate that I’ve been able to have in my career. I don’t like to talk trash just to sell fights. I train hard and do my talking in the ring. I want people to respect me and to follow my fights, not because of what I say but what I do.”
The one significant blemish on Canelo’s record is a September 14, 2013, loss by decision to Floyd Mayweather. At age 23, he wasn’t ready for Mayweather. And the bout was fought at a 152-pound catchweight that wasn’t right for him.
But Alvarez didn’t just lose to Mayweather. He lost quietly. He looked confused (because he was) and didn’t fight with the intensity that was expected of him.
“I was very young,” Canelo says of that outing. “I don’t take it as a defeat. I take it as an experience.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
On November 21, 2015, Alvarez decisioned Miguel Cotto at a 155-pound catchweight to claim the RING and WBC middleweight titles. He defended the championship successfully against Amir Khan and Liam Smith at a similar weight limit before fighting a non-title bout against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at a contract limit of 164.5 pounds.
Meanwhile, Golovkin was collecting belts while fighting at 160 pounds, and it was getting harder to justify Canelo’s claim to the middleweight crown.
An athlete should be praised for wanting to give his optimum performance every time out. No fighter should be forced to fight above or below his own best weight class. No one criticized Usain Bolt for not choosing to further prove his dominance on the track by running 400 meters at the Olympics.
But Canelo was holding on to the WBC middlweight title while refusing to fight Golovkin (the mandatory WBC challenger) at 160 pounds. Eventually, the WBC forced the issue and Canelo vacated his throne.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
“Canelo wanted to fight Golovkin at 160 pounds a long time ago,” Eric Gomez said, one day before the bout finally took place. “But Oscar, Chepo, and Eddy [promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo’s trainers, Chepo and Eddy Reynoso] felt it was too soon. It was the same thing before Canelo fought Mayweather. Back then, Canelo wanted the fight. Oscar, Chepo, and Eddy didn’t. They felt it was too soon and at the wrong weight, but they bowed to Canelo’s wishes. This time, Canelo listened when they told him a year ago that it was too soon for Golovkin, that he should wait until he grew to where his best weight was 160. They told him, ‘Look what happened in the Mayweather fight. Now listen to us.’”
This spring, Team Alvarez decided their man was ready. Canelo-Golovkin would be contested on September 16 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds. The purse split heavily favored Alvarez. Golovkin would be obligated to fight an immediate rematch on pre-arranged terms if he won. Gennady would also be required to enter the ring first because, in De La Hoya’s words, “Canelo is the lineal champion and the star of the show.”
The bout was announced on May 6, moments after Canelo scored a whitewash decision over Chavez Jr. Golovkin walked to the ring for the first of many pre-fight promotional encounters, and Alvarez told him, “I’ve never feared anyone. When I was born, fear was gone. I never got my share of fear.”
“Good luck,” Golovkin said.
“Luck is for mediocre people,” Canelo countered.
Later, Alvarez would complain, “After this fight, they’ll say there’s another guy I’m avoiding.”
Tickets were priced from $300 to $5,000 and soon sold out.
“We’re ready for this fight,” Alvarez proclaimed during an August 8 media conference call. “We asked for it. This is what we wanted. Anything can happen in boxing at any time, more so when both fighters have punching power. We both have the power to win by knockout. Whatever it takes to win the fight, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give all of me.”
“He respects me, and I respect him,” Golovkin acknowledged. “This is boxing. Every day is difficult and dangerous.”
“It’s going to be a chess match at the beginning,” Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, posited. “Then, once you get past that point where they see what each other is doing, they’re going to go at each other. I think both guys are going to hurt each other and may go down. It’s going to be difficult for us, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
“That’s a fight I’ll actually buy tickets for and go to myself,” UFC President Dana White said.
Technically, Golovkin’s WBC, WBA, and IBF belts were on the line, as were Alvarez’s RING and “lineal” titles. But Canelo remained angry that the WBC had pressured him to fight Golovkin before he was ready to do so.
When asked about the world sanctioning bodies during the New York leg of the kickoff press tour, Eric Gomez diplomatically told the media, “We absolutely intend on fighting for the WBA and IBF. We haven’t decided on the WBC.”
Canelo quickly disagreed, saying, “No, I’m not fighting for the WBC.”
In response, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman later decreed, “It is a matter for the boxer. Golovkin will defend his title. We will sanction the fight and the winner will be the champion of the WBC. If anyone wants to resign or not accept the title, that decision is beyond our organization. The rules are clear. A boxer can vacate. And if that’s the case, then the title will remain vacant.”
There was a resounding buzz in the media center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during fight week.
A sport can’t thrive if it relies exclusively on big events to satisfy its fans. A handful of big fights won’t remedy boxing’s problems.
Still, Canelo-Golovkin was special. Hardened scribes who’ve seen it all were genuinely looking forward to the fight. Expectations ran high. This was more than a big event. It was a big fight, important in terms of boxing history and likely to be both competitive and entertaining.
Every champion wants to be part of a fight for the ages. Elite athletes thrive on the biggest stage possible. Within that milieu, both fighters exuded quiet confidence like the calm in the eye of a hurricane.
Golovkin had never been involved in a fight of this magnitude before, but this was what he wanted. Big fight, big stage, big money, big historical importance.
“Gennady has been a little frustrated the last couple years that he hasn’t had that marquee name step up and want to fight him,” Abel Sanchez noted. “But he’s happy that it’s finally here. He has a sparkle in his eye.”
“I am excited, waiting for fight,” Golovkin said just prior to the final pre-fight press conference. “It’s like you’re going to meet with your new girlfriend. Is huge history fight.”
Canelo responded in kind, saying, “I know it’s going to be a tough fight, and that’s what I’m ready for. I want to make it clear that I’m better than him. I’m writing my history now.”
Photo by Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions
It promised to be a career-defining fight for each man and the biggest challenge that either had ever faced. Both men are big punchers. Each has a granite chin. Golovkin likes to force his opponent to the ropes. Canelo likes to counter off them. Each fighter knew that more than a few liver shots would be aimed in his direction.
No stone was left unturned in searching for clues as to the outcome. Six years ago, Alvarez and Golovkin sparred with each other at Gennady’s training camp in Big Bear, California. Asked about that session, Golovkin responded, “I knew him, big prospect from Golden Boy. I just remember a couple of rounds. I help him and he help me, just boxing, not true fight, sparring, not like very hard sparring. I remember he’s a little bit young. His speed is good. His power for 154 is OK, not for 160. Different power, different time. That’s a long time ago. This is different story right now, different weight, different age. Right now, last couple of fights, he has power. He has more experience. He’s bigger, stronger. He’s better.”
“I was able to pick up some things,” Canelo said. “But you can’t really compare a sparring session to a fight. And we’re different fighters now.”
Alvarez had better-schooled opponents on his ring ledger than Golovkin did, although, as earlier noted, many of them were smaller men past their prime. Also, his hands are faster than Golovkin’s. The assumption was that Canelo would counterpunch against Gennady and pick his spots.
Alvarez’s partisans also pointed to Golovkin’s most recent outing when he struggled against Danny Jacobs as a source of hope. The counterargument to that was, even in their prime, all great fighters have struggled against certain opponents. And Canelo’s style is very different from Jacobs’.
Golovkin is now 35. Alvarez is 27. “Gennady’s age will catch up to him some day,” Abel Sanchez conceded. “But it won’t be in this fight.”
Still, one wondered whether, against Alvarez, Golovkin might tire enough to make him vulnerable.
“GGG is not a boxer,” Bernard Hopkins, an equity participant in Golden Boy, stated. “He has some boxing skills, but he’s essentially a stalker. He’s going to be who he’s been until it doesn’t work for him. So he’ll go after Canelo. Canelo can frustrate GGG. What I see happening is Canelo outboxing him over 12 rounds. Once Golovkin shoots his load and realizes he has to go to Plan A, B, C, and D, we’ll see if he knows his ABCs.”
“We respect Golovkin’s power,” Eddy Reynoso said. “We know what his power is, and we have to be wary of that. But I truly believe Canelo is a more complete fighter, a more intelligent fighter.”
Canelo is certainly a stronger, more complete fighter now than he was when he fought Mayweather. But Golovkin presented a completely different set of challenges.
Golovkin comes forward, attacking, attacking. He prefers non-stop engagement to more measured forms of combat. He’ll trade punches all night if his opponent is willing. In theory, that leaves him vulnerable to counterpunches. But his opponents to date have found it difficult to put that theory into practice.
“I don’t think we’ll have to lure Canelo into a firefight,” Abel Sanchez hypothesized. “I think that’s in his nature as a fighter. But Canelo doesn’t have Gennady’s power. You can teach punching technique. You can’t teach power. Gennady has power. Gennady will hit Canelo harder than Canelo has ever been hit.”
“Canelo says he dreams about a knockout victory every night,” a reporter told Golovkin just before the final pre-fight press conference.
“Yes,” Gennady responded. “But he is dreaming.”
Then Golovkin added what everyone knew: “Is not an easy fight for him. Is not an easy fight for me.”
Which fighter would dictate the pace of the fight and impose his fight plan on the other? There was no way to know. Golovkin had opened as a 3-2 betting favorite. By fight day, the odds had dropped to 7-5.
“My heart is with Canelo one hundred percent,” Eric Gomez said. “And I think he’ll win. But these are two great fighters, and this is boxing. Canelo can lose, and he can lose badly. Or he can win and look great.”
“If you put a gun to my head,” Larry Merchant offered, “I’d pick Golovkin. But if you put a gun to some other part of my body, I’d pick Canelo. That’s how close it is.”
“I am supporting Gennady because he is my friend,” Sergey Kovalev noted. “But any prediction is no good.”
For Golovkin, winning would be validation. For Canelo, winning would make him a legend.
Part Two of this report will be posted on RingTV.com tomorrow.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at email@example.com. His next book – “There Will Always Be Boxing” – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.
Not even a last-minute change of opponent would deter Nico Hernandez’s attempt at a victory Saturday night.
Hernandez defeated late-sub Kendrick Latchman via six-round unanimous decision at the Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas.
Hernandez (3-0, 2 knockouts) was scheduled to face Basyzbek Baratov but the fighter from Kyrgyzstan abruptly backed out of the fight Friday evening when Hernandez weighed 113 pounds, one pound above the contracted weight. Baratov (2-1-2) tipped the scale at 112 pounds.
The Kansas Athletic Commission automatically allows fighters to be one pound over for all non-title fights but Baratov refused to go forward with the bout.
Enter Latchman, who competes in boxing and mixed martial arts, who took the fight on Friday night. Hernandez was allowed to re-hydrate four pounds and Latchman (1-5-1, 1 KO) weighed in at 125 pounds.
Latchman went after Hernandez in the opening frame, even momentarily stunning the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. Hernandez made the right adjustments and was able to outbox Latchman for the duration of the fight.
Scores were 59-55 twice and 60-54 in favor of Hernandez, who resides in nearby Wichita.
“They (his corner and fans) were nervous,” said the 21-year-old Hernandez after the fight. “I wasn’t. My coach (father Lewis Hernandez) told me to feint and go in but I lunged a little too much. I’m staying in my division (flyweight) before moving up in weight.”
Featherweight Tramaine Williams (13-0 1, 5 KOs) dropped Derrick Murray (13-3-1, 5 KOs) in round three, en route to a 10-round unanimous decision.
Murray came to fight but the southpaw Williams, who was coming off an impressive first round knockout victory over former bantamweight title challenger William Gonzalez less than two months ago, was able to outbox Murray throughout most of the fight.
Scores were 98-91 twice and 97-92 in favor of Williams.
Welterweight Armando Alvarez (17-0, 11 KOs) remained unbeaten, winning a 10-round unanimous decision over veteran Gabor Gorbics (23-8, 14 KOs). Scores were 100-90, 98-92 and 96-93 in favor of Alvarez.
Hard-hitting heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (18-0, 14 KOs) stopped veteran Byron Polley (30-22-1, 13 KOs) at 2:28 of the opening round.
The entire card will air on CBS Sports Network at a later date.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.
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INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Daniel Jacobs, the best middleweight not named Canelo or GGG, is jumping ship to HBO with his eyes on those two men.
The Brooklynite, who beat osteosarcoma, a deadly form of bone cancer, signed a multi-fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s British-based Matchroom Sport, it was announced Saturday. Jacobs will be the centerpiece of Hearn’s new Matchroom Boxing USA operation, and also is now aligned with HBO for multiple fights.
His first fight under the new deal will take place November 11 against Luis Arias at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York, sources told RingTV.com.
“I’m with the family, I’m back with HBO,” said Jacobs, 32, who began his career on the network and also fought GGG on HBO’s pay-per-view arm, but competed mostly on Premier Boxing Champions shows. “It’s a great opportunity for me and my fans. This will be a great platform. It’s a new start for me.”
It’s also a new start for Hearn, who is now entering the American market as a leading man.
Matchroom Sport already is the No. 1 promotional company in boxing-crazed England, and with Anthony Joshua its No. 1 star, shows no signs of slowing down.
“It’s an honor to welcome Danny Jacobs to the Matchroom Boxing team and to join forces with HBO boxing to showcase his fights,” said Hearn. “I believe Danny has proved himself as the top middleweight in world boxing and has one of the most inspirational stories you will ever see in the sport, which must be told.
“We plan on keeping Danny nice and busy kicking off in November, then back in the spring with the obvious target of the Canelo vs. GGG winner. This signing marks the first of many in the U.S. market as we look forward to building on our success in the U.K., raising fighters’ activity levels and profiles and providing fans with atmosphere and drama from this great sport.”
THE RING’s No. 2 middleweight figures to handle the undefeated Arias, and after that, big fights await at 160 pounds. But against just whom remains to be seen while Canelo and GGG tend to their own unfinished business.
Negotiations for the rematch began Friday ahead of a probable May bout, so Jacobs will need to find other dance partners in the meantime. Could it be Demetrius Andrade, who will return to HBO on October 24 and has plans to move up to middleweight? Or even a meeting with crushing puncher David Lemieux? That remains to be seen.
With Top Rank exclusively working with ESPN now, HBO had more room in the budget to work with a fighter the caliber of Jacobs, undoubtedly one of the top 20 pound-for-pound boxers in the world. And now that Jacobs figures to be more active, that’s a boon to boxing.
“This is the right move at the right time for Danny to go to HBO,” his manager, Keith Connolly, told RingTV.com. “All the big fights in his weight class are over there and over the last couple of months Danny, myself and Al Haymon all came to the conclusion that this was the move to make.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Luke Campbell said afterward that he thought he beat Jorge Linares. And he has an argument.
Several rounds of the fight could’ve gone either way. And if Campbell had won just one more round on a particular card, he would’ve won the fight and both the RING and WBA lightweight belts in his first attempt to win a world title before 4,125 at the Forum.
That’s how close he came to realizing every fighter’s dream. Linares won a split decision: 114-113, 115-112 for him, 115-113 for Campbell.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist from England certainly has nothing to be ashamed of, though. He proved in a disappointing defeat – against one of the most skillful boxers in the world – that he is made of championship cloth.
That’s not how it looked in the first few rounds, when Linares seemed to be a class above Campbell. The Venezuelan was quick, smooth and – in regard to one punch – powerful.
A wicked straight right, the third punch of a combination, put Campbell on the canvas in the second round. It appeared at that moment that he might be in for a long night. Instead, Campbell seemed to adjust, started landing both his long jab and power punches and quickly climbed back into the fight.
Campbell, not Linares, seem to be in control in the middle rounds – fighting particularly well between No. 4 to No. 10 – as Linares’ output declined.
The fight seemed to be up in the air going into the final two rounds and, as it turned out, it was. Linares, fighting with more urgency in the championship rounds, won the 11th on two cards and the 12th on all three to win the fight.
Had Linares (43-3, 27 knockouts) lost the 12th on Max DeLuca’s 114-113 card, Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs) would’ve had his hand raised.
“No one can ever doubt my hard work,” Campbell said. “Yeah, I got off to a rocky start. He caught me in the eye. A nice shot that put me on the mat. But I had to fight, I had to get focused. I didn’t think he was landing any shots whatsoever in the second half.”
Linares and his American promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, gave Campbell credit.
“When I first started off, I felt very fast,” Linares said. “The only thing he had over me was that he was a very technical fighter, he was very tall and had long arms. I had to adjust to his style throughout the fight.”
Said De La Hoya: “Campbell will be a champion one day.”
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Luke Campbell was dropped hard in Round 2 and appeared overmatched.
The straight right hand that poured him on the canvas also cut him under the right eye, and Linares was in control.
The Venezuelan was landing his blinding combinations at will, but then suddenly, the fight flipped.
The punches from Linares? Dispensed piecemeal, for the most part, from Round 4 on. Campbell’s excellent southpaw jab — developed during his decorated amateur career that culminated with an Olympic gold medal in 2012 — nullified Linares’ own jab and left hook, and deterred him from letting loose with his shots.
Most of the tough-to-score rounds Saturday at The Forum featured little action, with Linares’ punches thrown from out of range, and Campbell tentative to counter after the knockdown. It all resulted in a split-decision victory for Linares, after he pulled out the 12th on two cards (the third was even), via tallies of 114-113, 115-112 and a 115-113 score for the Brit. THE RING scored it 115-114 for Campbell.
Photo by Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions
“I think in the fifth round he started to box a little bit because he didn’t want to get hurt,” said Linares, who retained his RING lightweight championship. The victory was Linares’ fourth over a Brit in his last five bouts (including two wins over Anthony Crolla). “In the 12th round I knew I had to let the dogs out, and that’s what I did. We want Mikey Garcia next.”
For Linares, this was his moment: After 10 years of fighting on the championship level, an HBO main event and a reintroduction to the American market.
Linares (43-3, 27 knockouts), for three rounds, displayed the kind of athleticism and flashy punching that made him such an intriguing talent since his breakthrough performance over Oscar Larios in 2007 on HBO.
Photo by Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions
The 32-year-old’s upper-body movement and shots delivered from confounding angles befuddled Campbell, but the knockdown seemed to wake him up.
Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs) was a renewed fighter in Round 4. He made some tactical adjustments, namely the southpaw jab coupled with boxing from a greater distance, and proved a difficult target for Linares.
The Yorkshire native, who brought about 120 friends and family from home among the 4,125 in attendance, cheered him on with a familiar song — “There’s only one Luke Campbell!” — as he began to pile up rounds.
The southpaw jab to the body was well-timed and seemed to upset Linares’ rhythm. The right hooks over the top of Linares’ jab were effective, too.
Campbell, 29, likely gave away some rounds with his cautious style, but he grabbed 5, 6, 7 and 10 on all three scorecards. The judges were in agreement in favor of Linares for the first three rounds. That made for a fight that was on the table late, and it was Linares that pulled away.
“No one can ever doubt my hard work,” said Campbell, who was challenging for his first world title. His lone defeat came to Frenchman Yvan Mendy in 2015, another bout where he tasted the canvas. “Yeah, I got off to a rocky start, he caught me in the eye — a nice shot that put me on the mat.
“But I had to fight, I had to get focused. I didn’t think he was landing any shots whatsoever in the second half.”
Surely, Campbell will be back. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said he’ll be a champion one day. He definitely showed the mettle, and the necessary in-ring adjustments. He was even the ring general, if not the aggressor, and landed the telling blows. His time will come.
But Linares’ time is now.
He’s now scored 12 consecutive victories since suffering back-to-back stoppage defeats, and has turned his career around. He’s back in the U.S. market, and a much-anticipated clash with Mikey Garcia appears to be on the horizon.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger
Undercard photos by Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions: