By: Ken Hissner
The welterweight division is packed with talented boxers and mentioned as the toughest division in boxing. The WBA Super World and WBC champion is Keith “One Time” Thurman, 28-0 (22), of Clearwater, FL, who defeated Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 28-2-1 (17), of Las Vegas, NV, in June of 2016. Thurman is scheduled to defend his title May 19th at the Barclay Center, in Brooklyn, NY, with an opponent to be named. Thurman hasn’t fought since March of 2017. Porter won the WBC Silver title in November 2017. He also lost to Kell Brook, of the UK. He entered the ring over the weekend barking at Garcia who had just defeated Brandon Rios. He had to be escorted out of the ring.
Devon Alexander “The Great”, 27-4-1 (14), of St. Louis lost his IBF title to Porter in December of 2013. He drew with the former WBC champion Victor Ortiz, 32-6-3 (25), of Ventura, CA, this past weekend and was robbed. Porter lost it to Kell Brook, of the UK, in August of 2014. Brook lost it to Errol Spence, Jr. in May of 2017 and hasn’t fought since and dropped out of the ratings. Spence still holds the title and is 23-0 (20), of DeSoto, TX, and in his once defense he stopped Lamont Peterson, 35-4-1, in January of 2018 who is no longer in the ratings. Spence is scheduled to defend his title on June 16th in Dallas, TX, with an opponent to be announced.
Lucas “La Maquina,” Matthysse, 39-4 (36), of Argentina won the WBA World title stopping Tewa Kiram, 38-1, of Thailand, in January of 2018, and Kiram is no longer in the ratings. Matthysse lost to Danny “Swift” Garica in 2013 at Super Lightweight.
Garcia, 34-1 (17), of Philadelphia, PA, lost his WBC title to Thurman in March of 2017. He just had his first fight since then stopping the former WBA Lightweight champion Brandon Rios, 34-4-1, this past weekend. Garcia was asked afterwards if he wanted a rematch with Thurman and he said “that’s up to him.” Garcia is No. 2 in the WBC and No. 1 in the WBA.
The WBO champion is Australia’s Jeff “The Hornet” Horn, 18-0-1 (12), who won the title on a gift decision over former world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 59-7-2 (38), of the Philippines in July of 2017. Horn must fight his No. 1 contender Terence “Bud” Crawford, 32-0 (23), of Omaha, NEB, who held the four organization title at Super Lightweight and is having his first welterweight fight. That is scheduled for April 14th in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao is ranked No. 3 by the WBC and No. 2 by both the WBA and WBO. He is scheduled to fight Mike Alvarado, 38-4 (26), of Thornton, CO, April 14th in Las Vegas. The IBF’s No. 1 and No. 2 slots are vacant. Cuban Yordenis Ugas, 21-3 (10), of Miami, FL, who is No. 14 and stopped No. 11 “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-3, of Philadelphia, PA, over the weekend with the winner promised the No. 2 spot.
The No. 3 spot in the IBF is held by Carlos “Chema” Ocampo, 22-0 (13), of Baja CA, Mexico, who has never fought outside of Mexico. He has not defeated anyone of record but still has that high rating. Either Ugas or Ocampo may get that title shot at Spence.
Jesse “The Pride of Las Vegas” Vargas, 28-2 (10), of Las Vegas, NV, is No. 3 in the WBA and No. 4 in both the WBC and IBF. He lost to Pacquiao in November of 2016. Vargas outgrew his WBA Super Lightweight title after his November 2014 defense and has gone 2-2 since.
The UK’s British champion Bradley Skeete, 27-1 (12), is the WBO No. 3 and IBF No. 5 contender. He hasn’t fought since July of 2017. Another unbeaten contender is Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, 32-0 (13), living in Big Bear, CA, ranked No. 9 in the IBF and No. 8 in the WBC.
So, to summarize the situation in the welterweight division both WBC and WBA champion Thurman and IBF champion Spence, Jr. have defenses scheduled without opponents at this time. Horn will be meeting Crawford who is heavily favored to take that title. Thurman may be fighting his No. 1 contender Porter. Spence could fight Ugas, Ocampo or Vargas. The division is wide open for some great fights!
By: Sean Crose
No, Vasyl Lomachenko is not, as some are saying “already the greatest ever.” At least the scant evidence available doesn’t indicate as much. If Lomachenko is, in fact, the best in history, it will be some time before any of us find out, anyway. For Lomachenko is still basically somewhat new at his job as a professional prizefighter. Oh, he’s made his mark, both in the amateurs and in the pro set, but a great boxer generally needs great challenges in order to be recognized as a legend, much less be recognized as the best who ever lived.
To date, Loma, as he’s called, has had one major pro challenge in the guise of rugged Orlando Salido. And Loma lost that one. While it’s true Salido played dirty before and during the match, a loss is still a loss. Besides, had Loma been more established as a pro fighter – it was only his second pro bout – he might have emerged the victor, regardless. After all, experienced fighters are more apt to know how to deal with the likes of Salido after a certain point in their development. The case of Salido, then, was nothing if not a case of biting off more than one could figuratively chew. An understandable mistake regarding the hype surrounding Loma, sure, but a mistake, nonetheless.
Even if that’s all in the past, though, Loma still has a ways to go before knocking, say, Ray Robinson, off his perch as the widely regarded all time best (or even Roy Jones Junior, for that matter). What Loma is at this point in his career, almost four years after his first pro fight, is a very established professional. And a very good one. He’s not, however, a guaranteed Hall of Famer, at least not as a professional ring tactician. Far from it. What Loma is – what he truly is – is an insanely promising fighter. Perhaps the most promising in history. Keep in mind, though, that many insanely promising fighters have fallen short of expectations. Adrien Broner is, in fact, only the most recent example of this.
To be fair, though, Loma is no Broner. This guys works hard. Incredibly hard. It even appears he views his craft like a mathematician views an equation. His training deals with both the physical as well as the cerebral aspects of the sport. That’s something worth noting. He’s also shown himself to be amazing in the ring. Just amazing. His angles. His footwork. His aggressiveness and finishing power. There’s a reason the 8-1 super featherweight titlist is so well regarded – because he deserves to be. Just don’t call him the greatest to ever lace up a pair of gloves. Not yet.
At least let him get by the 25-2 Miguel Marriaga this weekend in Las Angeles first.
The Best Match In Boxing Is Going Down This Saturday…Does Anyone Care?
By: Sean Crose
While the sports world focuses on more frivolous matters this week, the best matchup in all of combat sports is going down this Saturday. No, it doesn’t involve a loudmouthed Irishman or a flashy hedonist with a perfect record. Believe it or not, it doesn’t even involve a red headed Mexican and a Kazakh knockout machine. No, the best match in all of combat sports involves a Russian immigrant and a churchgoing Californian who are set to collide in the city of Las Vegas. Few outside of the world of boxing even know it’s happening. Perhaps few inside the world of boxing even care.
And that, friends, is really too bad. For Saturday night’s Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev fight for light heavyweight supremacy promises boxing at it’s best. Exquisite skill. Frightening power. Two men with a lot to prove. Ward-Kovalev II has it all. The first fight between both men last fall wasn’t a classic, but it was damn good, with Ward pulling off a close, yet controversial decision win. Each man now aims to settle things once and for all. Oh, and they don’t like each other. Or at least Kovalev despises Ward. In fact, he despises Ward so bad, he’s made it clear he wants to hurt the man.
Considering the fact that Kovalev has already ended one life, that’s legitimately frightening stuff. Not that the Russian is actually looking to kill Ward, he’s just looking to dispense a world class ass kicking. Ward, on the other hand, is clearly looking to take his opponent to school. And by the way, the guy’s really good at taking opponents to school. One suspects Ward’s also looking to let Kovalev know he’s no pushover. In other words, there’s a lot to look forward to here. The question, however, is whether or not anyone’s actually looking forward to it.
This writer is, and no doubt others are, as well. Probably not too many others, though, and that’s a shame. Neither Ward nor Kovalev has an enormous fan base. People aren’t going to fly across the Atlantic by the jet full for this fight. Nor is an army of people donning hats declaring its preferred fighter the best ever going to be spotted around Vegas this weekend. Nope. This fight is for the purists. As George Foreman once said, boxing is like jazz, the better it is, the less people like it.
Here’s hoping for some seriously good jazz this weekend.
Who Was the Best P4P “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker or Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr?
By: Ken Hissner
This writer has met “Sugar” Ray Leonard several times, Aaron “The Hawk” once and Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker once. I never met Floyd “Money” Mayweather. All are IBHOF inductees except Mayweather who has to wait five years after retiring before induction. He hasn’t fought since 2015.
As far as an amateur Leonard would be in a class of his own compared to the other three though Whitaker also won an Olympic Gold Medal but against lesser opposition.Leonard was from Palmer Park, MD.
Let’s take a look at Leonard first with an amateur record of 145-5 (75) winning the 1976 Olympic Gold Medal before turning professional on possibly the greatest Olympic team in the history of the Games. He won the 1975 Pan American Games the previous year defeating Cubans for both Gold Medals. He was inducted into the Olympic HOF in 1985 and the IBHOF in 1997 fighting from 1977 thru 1997 with a 36-3-1 (25) record.
In talking with Manny Steward who helped this writer judge 1976 vs 1984 Olympic teams we both agreed Leonard was a better amateur than a professional. Steward told me due to hand injuries as a professional. His manager was Mike Trainer and his trainers were Dave Jacobs, Janks Morton, Adrian Davis, Angelo Dundee and Pepe Correa.
Leonard won the WBC & WBA welterweight titles, WBA Junior middleweight, WBC’s middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight titles. Highlights winning world titles by stopping Wildfredo Benitez, winning two of three from Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, stopping and drawing with Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns, stopping AyubKalule, defeating “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and stopping Donny Lalondetwice.
Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, 39-1 (36), was from Cincinnati, OH. He was 204-16 in the amateurs winning AAU and Golden Gloves titles while being a Silver Medalist in the 1975 Pan Am Games and a 1976 Olympic alternate losing to future Gold Medalist and Van Barker winner Howard Davis. In talking to Davis over the phone I told him I thought he lost against Pryor in the Olympic Trials. He didn’t agree. Pryor won the 1976 Golden Gloves defeating Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns.
At the Pan Am Games in 1975 Olympic members Chuck “White Chocolate” Walker and Davey Armstrong agreed Leonard just got the best of Pryor in sparring in unforgettable performances by both.
Pryor was the IBF and WBA light welterweight champion. He was 35-0 and was inactive for 2½ years coming back and tasting his only career defeat to Bobby Joe Young then winning his last three fights. He fought from 1976 thru 1990. His most notable wins were over Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes, Dujuan Johnson and over Alexis Arguello twice.His manager was Buddy LaRosa and trained by Panama Lewis.
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker as a professional was 40-4-1 (17), and as anamateur 201-14.In 1982 he was the Silver Medalist in the World Amateur championships reversing the loss by defeating the same Cuban for the Pan Am Games 1983 Gold Medal. The Russians and Cubans didn’t compete in the 1984 Olympics where Whitaker won the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal in the lightweight division.
Whitaker held the WBA, WBC and IBF titles as a lightweight and a light welterweight. His first attempt for the WBC lightweight title was his first career loss to Jose Luis Ramirez but defeated Ramirez the following year for his first world title. He defeated Azuma Nelson, Jorge Paez, BuddyMcGirt twice and drew with Julio Cesar Chavez. He lost to Oscar “Golden Boy” De la Hoya and Felix “Tito” Trinidad. He fought from 1984 thru 2001.
Whitaker was managed by Shelly Finkel while trained by George Benton and Lou Duva as a professional. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2007. He would become a trainer after retiring.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr.,was 49-0 (26), as a professional winning the WBC super featherweight, lightweight and light welterweight titles. He won the IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO titles as a welterweight and the WBA & WBC light middleweight titles.
He was managed by Floyd Mayweather, Sr., James Prince and Al Haymon. He was trained by Roger Mayweather, and Mayweather, Sr. He was promoted by Top Rank, Goossen Tutor Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions.
Mayweather was 84-8 as an amateur winning the 1996 Golden Gloves and the Bronze Medal in the 1996 Olympic Games. As a professional he fought from 1996 thru 2015.
In this writers opinion “Sugar” Ray Leonard was the better P4P boxer than the other three. What do you think?
Never Mind The Post-Fight Hype, Joshua-Klitschko Was A Big Deal. Here’s Why.
By: Sean Crose
Some people are driven insane by the kind of hyperbole that surrounds any major event. For instance, I get put off by fellow Star Wars nuts who simply praise all things Star Wars to the Yavin 4 moon, regardless of quality (Rogue One wasn’t all that great, people!). With that in mind, I can understand why some are already getting annoyed by the breathless accolades Saturday’s Joshua-Klitschko extravaganza has been receiving. Still, there’s something equally off-putting to me about those deflating types who are always apt to shrug at something others genuinely love and admire. I know such people, and I sometimes wonder if their chronic dismissiveneness is, in fact, some kind of strange psychological power play. Sure enough, a few of these naysayers appear to be weighing in on Joshua-Klitschko, as well.
Let’s take a step back and try to view things objectively, then. On the surface, Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko in front of almost six figures worth of people in a back and forth heavyweight title fight. That’s it. Or is it? Was there really more to the bout than what was on the surface? Are those breathless masses right in this case? Upon consideration, I think they actually are. All the praise may get a bit much to swallow at times, but hey, this was one of those events that earned the loud chorus of cheers it’s receiving. If people are going to go bonkers for something, at least this time it’s for something worthwhile.
For starters, Joshua-Klitschko was held in front of ninety thousand people. That’s ninety thousand. Sure, that in and of itself might not be that impressive in the larger scheme of things (Didn’t Dempsey fight in front of bigger crowds on several occasions?), but Saturday’s live audience at London’s Wembley Stadium was absolutely electric. Watching the bout live on Showtime, it was literally hard to hear ring announcer Michael Buffer speak into a microphone over the uproarious crowd. That says something, and what it says is this fight brought with it more energy than most of us have seen in years. The crowd at Wembley was pumped up to epic proportions. Never mind boxing, I’ve never, to my knowledge, felt that kind of vibe through the television for a sporting event of any kind.
And that’s saying something.
Yet Joshua-Klitschko was also an electric fight. Seriously. This one played out like a super sized version of the first Leonard-Hearns throwdown, with one man dominating, then another, for round after round, until Joshua found the strength within himself to finish his masterful opponent off for good. That sort of thing, simply put, is good boxing. No, it’s great boxing. People will be talking about this bout – not the hype – the bout itself, for years to come. And with good reason. It may not have been as shocking as Tyson-Douglas, but it was enormously entertaining, perhaps the best heavyweight title fight in the past 25 years.
And that’s saying something, too.
What made the bout even more intriguing, however, was the knowledge that there were still questions to be answered afterwards. When Mayweather beat Pacquiao, the story was essentially over. Yet this particular story can go in a million different directions – and it’s not self-contained like the Floyd-Manny throwdown was. Will there be a rematch? Will Joshua get his match with a cleaned up Tyson Fury? Will the thunderously hard hitting Deontay Wilder end up stealing the heavyweight crown when the dust finally settles? And what of Joseph Parker? And what of Luis Ortiz? And what of…
Make no mistake about it, we live in an age where the volume is always turned up to full blast. On this particular occasion, however, the music is simply good enough to warrant it.
Already A Legend, Roman Gonzalez Still Wants To Challenge Himself
By: Sean Crose
“I have already accomplished a lot,” undefeated multi-division champion Roman Gonzalez said on a recent conference call. Without doubt, the Nicaraguan slugger known as Chocolatito has earned some well deserved accolades. Last November the man won a world title in his fourth weight class by grinding out a grueling win against Carlos Cuadras for the WBC world super flyweight title. His legacy assured, Gonzalez is turning his attention towards other matters. “Now,” he claimed on the call, “my goal is to hold onto my fourth world title in order to gain higher purses and more money.” Fighting at 115 pounds isn’t exactly easy for Gonzalez, however.
“Never did I think it was going to be easy campaigning in this division at 115,” Gonzalez said. “It takes time to get used to and I think that’s what is happening at the moment but I think I will be fine.” His battle against Cuadras certainly was no walk in the park. Defending champ Cuadras wasn’t in it to lose. Indeed, the undefeated Mexican made it clear that he saw Gonzalez was his ticket to the big time. And even though Cuadras lost the fight, he gained an enormous amount of respect from the fight world.
And now people, including, it seems, Gonzalez, are looking forward to a rematch. “As I look at a fight coming up against Carlos Cuadras again,” Gonzalez claimed, “I realize I have to train harder. Every opponent presents different challenges. I do believe that the second fight, the rematch, will be better.” First, however, Gonzalez has business to attend to in Madison Square Garden this Saturday. For, Gonzalez will be featured in the co main event of the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs card. His opponent? The hard hitting former champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the man who Cuadras won the super flyweight title from.
In other words, it’s not necessarily easy going for Chocolatito this weekend. Sor Rungvisai may not have faced a murderer’s row throughout his career, but he goes to the body like it’s no one’s business. What’s more, Sun Rungvisai, like Cuadras, undoubtedly sees a great future ahead of him should he beat the Nicaraguan legend. Then there’s the matter that Gonzalez’ last fight was an absolutely brutal affair. Such things can have an impact. Add all this to the fact that the man has already reached Olympian heights and it’s worth wondering if an upset might be in the air.
Still, this is Gonzalez fighting here, the fighter widely regarded as the best pound for pound boxer on earth. Whether that’s really true or not, Gonzalez is a force to be reckoned with. What’s more, he knows what it’s like to be on a big stage. “On any other show,” promoter Tom Loeffler said of Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai, “it would clearly be the main event.”
The Night the Two Greatest P4P Boxers Faced Each Other!
By: Ken Hissner
There have been many opinions on “who was the greatest P4P boxer in the history of boxing?” Going way back it was Sam “The Boston Tar Baby” Langford, 180-29-30 (128), Stanley “The Michigan Assassin” Ketchel, 51-4-4 (48), Jack “The Galveston Giant” Johnson, 56-11-8 (35), Harry “Pittsburgh Windmill” Greb, 107-8-3 (48), and Willie “Will o” the Wisp” Pep, 229-11-1 (65). In modern times we had “Sugar” Ray Leonard, 36-3-1 (25), Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, 40-4-1 (17), Julio Cesar Chavez, 107-6-2 (86), and Floyd “Money” Mayweather, 49-0 (26).
There always seemed to be two others on everyone’s P4P list. They met at Madison Square Garden in New York on August 27, 1943 before over 15,000 fans.
In one corner being introduced was a young 22 year-old boxer out of New York City named “Sugar” Ray Robinson, posting a 44-1 record and coming in at 5’11” and 145 lbs. He was 4 fights from losing to Jake LaMotta who he previously beat and after the loss beat again prior to this fight and would win 4 out of 5 overall against LaMotta. He hadn’t won a title yet but would go onto win the welterweight (76th fight) and middleweight titles. He was well ahead in an effort to win the light heavyweight title after 13 rounds but couldn’t continue due to heat exhaustion.
In the other corner was the former NBA, NYSAC featherweight champion who won that title in 1937, won the welterweight title in 1938 and then dropped back to 135 winning the world lightweight title in 1939 while fighting to a disputed draw in 1940 for the middleweight title. In the other corner was the 33 year-old boxer out of L.A. named Henry “Homicide Hank” Armstrong, posting a 134-17-7 record and coming in at 5’5 ½ and 140 lbs. He had a 23-3 record after losing his title in back to back losses to Fritzie Zivic whom he defeated after that and prior to the fight with Robinson.
This was no grudge match. Robinson idolized Armstrong in his youth. It was scheduled for 10 rounds.
The best punches by both boxers were Armstrong rocking Robinson with a left hook to the chin in the fifth round and Robinson staggering Armstrong with a fight right bolo uppercut. Robinson opened up an old gash on Armstrong’s lip in the second round that never proved to be a problem throughout. Armstrong ran out of gas after the fifth round.
In attempting to find who the officials were and how the scoring went this writer came up with zero. Even www.youtube.com didn’t have the fight. Boxing Historian Henry Hascup sent me two newspaper articles about the fight. The only comment I saw was Robinson won every round. Robinson ended up with a 173-19-6 record with 108 knockouts. Armstrong ended up with a 151-21-9 record with 101 knockouts.
Armstrong said after the fight “I’m sorry to go out with such a bad fight and he wouldn’t stand up and mix it. I have to retire now due to scar tissue inside the pupil of my left eye. I can’t take any more chances for I get blurred vision.” The fans were not happy with Robinson moving from side to side and dancing away from Armstrong while landing jabs and occasional rights.
Two other fights that I can think of is when future heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano stopped Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis and said he cried afterwards since he idolized Louis. Larry Holmes “claims” he felt bad after beating Muhammad Ali for the latter’s only stoppage during his career. But when you remember after the then 44-0 world champion slaughtered Marvis Frazier within 3 minutes of the fight. Afterwards he was heard saying “that’s for the whooping’s your daddy gave me in the gym.” So it makes one wonder about his sincerity.
Another report had the losing Armstrong saying “I couldn’t have licked this kid on the best day I ever saw.” Robinson would admit when he hurt Armstrong he would go into a clinch with him keeping him steady. It was well known that both boxers went broke and kept fighting to either pay the IRS or have a place to lay their heads down.