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George Foreman Winning a Title at 45 Influenced Others


By: Ken Hissner

On November 5th in 1994 at the MGM Grand, Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Big” George Foreman regained the IBF and WBA Heavyweight title knocking out Michael Moorer in the 10th round. He was behind on point from the judges with scores of 88-83 twice and 86-85. Shortly after the fight Foreman was stripped of the WBA title for refusing to fight Tony Tucker.

One of the fighters Foreman influenced most was now 44 year old Shannon “Cannon” Briggs, 29-1, who was the last opponent in Foreman’s 81 fight career. It was thought Foreman was lucky to get by Germany’s Axel Schulz, 21-1-1, in April of 1995 and most felt he deserved the decision over Briggs losing 117-113, 116-112 and 114-114.

Briggs last fought on November 4th 2016 improving his record to 60-6-1 (53). He has been 9-0 since turning 40. He chased Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko then champion for years. He won the WBO title on November 4th 2006 stopping Siarhei “White Wolf” Liakhovich. Liakkhovich in his last bout at 42 in October of 2017 stopped Ramon “Pantera” Olivas, 14-7, of Sonora, Mexico, in the 3rd round of a scheduled 6, in Sonora, Mexico.

Former WBC Heavyweight champion Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall, 57-14 (37), at 49 lost his last fight in April of 2014 to Marcin “Rex” Rekowski, 13-1, over 10 rounds in Poland, in a rematch that McCall won in February. He was 15-7 after the age of 40. He won the title in September of 1994.

Fres “The Big O” Oquendo, 37-8 (24), at 45 is scheduled to fight for the WBA World title on September 29th at Cologne, Germany, when he meets champion Manuel Charr, 31-4 (17), though Oquendo hasn’t fought in four years. He lost a disputed decision to Chris Byrd in September of 2003 for his IBF World title.

Like Oquendo 45 year-old southpaw Amir “Hardcore” Mansour, 23-2-1 (16), is still chasing a title opportunity. He has won 7 minor titles and has been in the world ratings. His last fight was in November 2017 ending in a NC3 over a clash of heads against Russia’s Sergey Kuzmin, 11-0, in Moscow.

Billy “Bronco” Wright, 52-4 (43), of Las Vegas, last fought in January of 2016 at the age of 51. He hadn’t lost since 1998 to Tony Tucker. He won his last 22 fights since then of which 9 of his last 11 fights were in Bolivia. He won the WBC FECARBOX, WBO Latino and interim PABA titles.

All of these heavyweights felt they could match what George Foreman did at age 45 winning the heavyweight title.

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HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Saunders vs. Lemieux, Seldin vs. Ulysses, Douglas vs. O’Sullivan


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada will be the host site for an HBO Triple Header to take place on HBO World Championship Boxing.

The opening bout will be between Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin and Yves Ulysse, Jr. in the junior welterweight division. The second bout of the night will be between Antoine Douglas and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in the middleweight division. The main event of the night will be between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight title.


Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/Eye of the Tiger Management

This fight card will help lend some clarity to the middleweight division behind the two current kingpins of the middleweights, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. This card will also feature Cletus Seldin, a popular Jewish fighter that HBO seems keen on featuring in the future.

The following is a preview of all three bouts.

Cletus Seldin (21-0) vs. Yves Ulysse, Jr. (14-1); Junior Welterweights

The opening bout of the night is between the Hebrew Hammer Cletus Seldin and Yves Ulysse.

Seldin is a compact power puncher who has seventeen stoppage victories on his record. He’s thirty one years old and needs to make a serious run now if he ever wants to fight for a legitimate world title.

He’ll be about the same height as Ulysse as both are 5’7”. Seldin is also the more powerful puncher of the two. Ulysse only has nine stoppage victories to his credit. However, Ulysse is two years younger than his opponent.

Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Ulysse fought four times in 2017 and once in 2016, while Seldin has fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016.

Neither boxer had a notable amateur career, but Seldin appears to have had more success than Ulysse. Seldin was a Long Island Amateur Champion and lost in the finals of the New York State Golden Gloves.

Seldin has defeated the likes of Robert Ortiz, Renald Garrido, Jesus Selig, Orlando Vazquez, and Bayan Jargal.

Ulysse has defeated the likes of Ricky Sismundo and Zachary Ochoa. His lone loss was in his last fight to Steve Claggett.

Seldin fights a style that leaves him open to counters but puts on an exciting fight for his fans. Ulysse has a good record, but is the underdog going into the fight.

However, Ulysse was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and will have the support of the fans in attendance.

Antoine Douglas (22-1-1) vs. Gary O’Sullivan (26-2); WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight Title

Antoine Douglas is a good middleweight prospect who’s rise to the top was briefly derailed when he faced and lost to Avtandil Khurtsidze. He has since won three fights in a row and looks to reclaim his spot as a can’t miss prospect.

Douglas is still young and is in the middle of his prime at twenty five years old. O’Sullivan is getting near the end of his prime and is currently thirty three years old.

O’Sullivan and Douglas have similar knockout power. Douglas has stopped sixteen of his opponents and has one stoppage loss. O’Sullivan has stopped eighteen of his opponents and also has one stoppage loss.

Both boxers fought once in 2016 and three times in 2017.

Douglas has defeated the likes of Juan De Angel, Istvan Szili, and Thomas Lamanna. His lone loss was to Avtandil Khurtsidze and he drew with Micahel Soro.

O’Sullivan has defeated the likes of Nick Quigley, Melvin Betancourt, Milton Nunez, and Matthew Hall. The two times he faced good opposition, Chris Eubank Jr. and Billy Joe Saunders, he lost.

Douglas has quick hands and is willing to throw combinations and take risky exchanges. But his opponent is a veteran with knockout power.

This fight should be a tense and close fight, but it’s a fight that Douglas should be considered a close favorite.

Billy Joe Saunders (25-0) vs. David Lemieux (38-3): WBO Middleweight World Title

The main event of the evening is between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight Title. The winner of this bout may set himself up for a future fight with either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.

Both boxers are twenty eight years old and are in the midst of their prime. Saunders will have a slight inch and a half height advantage on Lemieux, but Lemieux has thirty three stoppage victories to his credit while Saunders only has twelve stoppage victories.

This will be Saunders first fight outside of the United Kingdom, but he doesn’t seem bothered by it. He recently stated, “I’m used to fight outside the UK, I’m a traveler of the world. I don’t care if there’s a million people. It’s just me and him in that ring, end of the story. As for the rest, I don’t care.”

Saunders does have a better amateur resume than Lemieux. He is a former Commonwealth Champion and competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Lemieux was the Canadian Junior National Champion in 2006.
However, Lemieux does seem confident in his power and his ability to hurt Saunders with his power. He stated, “I’ve never said that I doubted his chin. Regardless he will hit the floor. And whether I win by knock out or go 12 rounds, it’s no matter. But I will drop him and I will hurt him”

Saunders has defeated the likes of Willie Monroe Jr., Artur Akavov, Andy Lee, Chris Eubank Jr., Gary O’Sullivan, Matthew Hall, and Jarrod Fletcher.

Saunders though has not been very active the past two years. He only fought once in 2017 and once in 2016.

It should be noted that his win against Andy Lee was a majority decision and his win against Eubank was a split decision.

Lemieux has defeated the likes of Curtis Stevens, Glen Tapia, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Gabriel Rosado, Fernando Guerrero, Hector Camacho Jr., and Elvin Ayala. His losses were to Marco Antonio Rubio, Joachim Alcine, and Gennady Golovkin.

The biggest intangible of this fight is the fact it takes place in Quebec, Canada and Lemieux is Canadian. The fans will be backing Lemieux in this fight and that kind of support has been known to influence the judges.

Saunders two biggest victories were close decisions in the United Kingdom. It’s unlikely he’ll get a close decision in Canada.

As long as Lemieux can keep up his energy and pressure for all twelve rounds it’s a fight that he can and should win.

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Original Gangster: Antandil Khurtsidze Arrested In Organized Crime Roundup


Original Gangster: Antandil Khurtsidze Arrested In Organized Crime Roundup
By: Sean Crose

Okay, I admit that title is a bit disingenuous. The truth is that here in the United States of America, one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Therefore, middleweight Antandil Khurtsidze, who was arrested on Wednesday in a roundup of people reputedly connected to what the United States’ Attorney of the Southern District of New York referred to as “a Russian and Georgian Criminal Enterprise,” has done nothing wrong in the eyes of society. Still, the man is now up on charges and his upcoming title bout with Billy Joe Saunders is at least temporarily kaput. That does not constitute a good day.

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Specifically, Khurtsidze, a 33-2-2 product of the nation of Georgia who now lives in Brooklyn, is standing accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud and with breaking the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act. If convicted, the man can face decades in prison, be fined a ton of money and eventually end up under supervised release. The group Khurtsidze is reputedly connected to is known as the Shulaya Enterprise, a Russian/Georgian crime syndicate led by one Razhden Shulaya.

Among the Enterprise’s alleged operations are: illegal poker establishments in Brighton Beach, the extortion of gamblers and business owners, the attempted high tech defrauding of casinos, the theft of 10,000 pounds of chocolate (it’s true), the theft of other cargo shipments, the employment of a female Enterprise member to lure in and rob unsuspecting males (after rendering the victim’s unconscious with gas), the movement of untaxed cigarettes, the intention to open an after hours club (where, among other things, illegal narcotics would be sold), plans to bribe law enforcement, and forgery. With an assortment of charges, such as a “murder for hire conspiracy” and “conspiracy to sell firearms to a felon” lodged against its members, the Shulaya Enterprise appears to be quite a fearsome group – at least on paper.

All of this, of course, leaves middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders high and dry. He and Khurtsidze were supposed to fight in England this July. Now that his opponent has far more pressing things to attend to, Saunders will have to wait for another opportunity to fight. This, of course, only adds to the strangeness of Saunders’ title reign, which has consisted of twitter rants, long periods of time outside the ring and a ho-hum performance against Artur Akavov last December.

Still, Saunders’ future looks to be far brighter than Khurtsidze’s is at the moment. Sometimes it’s good to put everything in perspective.

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Louis-Conn II: A Heavyweight Title Fight Comes To Television


Louis-Conn II: A Heavyweight Title Fight Comes To Television
By: Sean Crose

For those who don’t know, Joe Louis was one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. What’s more, he was one of the greatest boxers of all time. Believe it or not, these are facts that few fight analysts and/or historians will ever argue against (boxing know-it-alls are a traditionally ornery bunch). As in the case of Ali (and precious few others) Louis’ greatness is pretty much universally accepted. Just how good was the guy? Well, from the year 1936 to the year 1950, the man didn’t lose a single fight. Not. A. Single. Fight. Oh, and he had well over thirty bouts during that time span.

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Jack Sharkey, James Braddock, Max Baer, Max Schmeling, and Joe Walcott were just some of the notables Louis met and bested during his notable run. Impressive stuff for a man widely known for taking out one no-hoper after another (for a while, Louis’ competition was known as “the bum of the month club”). Yet, while Louis is rightly regarded as one of the most dominant boxers to ever slip on a pair of gloves, there were men out there known to present the guy with a challenge. Schmeling beat him the first time they met. Walcott gave him almost more than he could handle. Even the over the top “Two Ton” Tony Galento had Louis briefly taste the mat.

One fighter that gave Louis more trouble than the man could have possibly imagined, though, was Billy Conn. A product of Pittsburgh, Conn had a less than terrific start as a boxer, before finally getting the hang of things and collecting a whole lot of wins for himself. After winning and defending the light heavyweight title, however, Conn decided to go for greatness and take on Louis for the heavyweight championship of the world. It was a bold and daring move. Louis wasn’t just any heavyweight, after all. And besides, moving up to take the biggest prize in sports against a bigger man (Louis would outweigh Conn by at least twenty pounds)was a daunting challenge in and of itself.

Yet Conn almost pulled it off. Meeting Louis at New York’s Polo Grounds on the evening of June 18th, 1941, Conn employed incredible boxing skills to frustrate Louis and avoid the impact of the champions’ frightening power punches. Not only was Conn proving to be the great Louis’ equal – he was handily beating the man. Then came the thirteenth round. The slick, slippery Conn decided to play tough guy after surprisingly hurting his opponent. Yet the results of Conn’s hubris were entirely predictable…Louis ended up winning by knockout that very round. The story, however, wasn’t over. After the Second World War, which saw both Conn and Louis serving in the military, the two fighters were to meet again, on June 19th, 1946, at Yankee Stadium.

A lot of time passed since the first fight, however, and the world had changed in incredibly dramatic ways. The United States, previously seen as a kind of marginalized, movie making nation where poor people were apt to move, was, as a result of the war, now the world’s great power, deeply engaged in a “cold war” with the Soviet Union for the direction of civilization (hard to believe, but true). What’s more, American life itself had changed since Louis and Conn had first squared off. Television, which had been around for years, was about to really take hold with the American public. And boxing was to become one of the young medium’s prime attractions.

And what better way to bring boxing to tv fans than to broadcast a live rematch between the great “Brown Bomber” and his slippery foe?

Unfortunately, the second fight wasn’t nearly as thrilling as the first. “He can run, but he can’t hide,” Louis claimed beforehand, in perhaps the first utterance from a fighter that absorbed itself into everyday language. Louis was right. He was able to end Conn’s second attempt at glory in the eighth round. Conn’s big moment had passed, having slipped into the vapor of time half a decade and a full historical era earlier. Still, the rematch between Louis and Conn served it’s purpose, bringing a heavyweight title fight to a groundbreaking new medium. Make no mistake about it, boxing is still living in the shadow of that long ago night in New York

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Why Is Disappointment Such An Enormous Part Of Boxing?


Why Is Disappointment Such An Enormous Part Of Boxing?
By: Sean Crose

Seanie Monaghan wanted to fight Adonis Stevenson. He was disappointed. Adonis Stevenson wanted to fight Joe Smith. He was disappointed. Gennady Golovkin wanted to fight Billy Joe Saunders. He was disappointed. Billy Joe Saunders then wanted to fight Gennady Golovkin. He was disappointed. Welcome to boxing, where disappointment seems to sometimes reign as undisputed pound for pound king. The other night, while I was at the Mohegan Sun Casino to see Sullivan Barrera top off an entertaining card by besting the overmatched Paul Parker, I found myself less than a foot away from talented junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade.

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I asked the skillful Rhode Islander what he had in store for the future. The answer, unfortunately, was nothing at the moment. Andrade, you see, had wanted to face Cuban slickster Erislandy Lara, but ended up being – you guessed it – disappointed. The point of this piece isn’t to point fingers at any of the fighters mentioned above (or below), but rather to illustrate what a frustrating endeavor boxing can be…especially for those who are doing the fighting. It was clear sitting near Andrade, for instance, that the man keeps himself in shape and has expert knowledge of the skills required for success in the ring. His last fight wasn’t even televised in the states, however, and his future, at least at the moment, is grey.

Again, the point here isn’t to support or condemn Andrade (though he’s certainly an engaging guy to speak with). The point here is merely to illustrate the vast, some might even argue infinite, figurative desert so many fighters tend to find themselves in. Part of this, of course, has to do with the fact that boxing has no single controlling authority. This can be frustrating, but at least there’s not one or two people who get to pick who does and doesn’t become a star.

Then again, there’s also the matter of cherrypicking, which seems to be more relevant than ever these days. Fighters, even up and comers, can act like marketing experts, even when they’re not. Instead of trying to be Floyd Mayweather, boxer, some pugilists seem to aspire to be Floyd Mayweather, millionaire. There’s a huge difference between those two entities, but it looks as if some, if not many, fighters are afraid to recognize it. Such thinking leads, of course, to disappointment among fans, possible opponents and perhaps even the fighters themselves. Fighters, after all, SHOULD care about legacies if they have the chance to create them.

Look, disappointment has been a big part of boxing since at least the time John L Sullivan made it clear he wouldn’t fight the likes of “Prince” Peter Jackson because of Jackson’s skin color. That doesn’t mean there should be as many disappointed souls in the fight game as there seems to be, however. Just because disappointment is a natural part of everyone’s life doesn’t require it to play a leading role. The question, of course, is how can anyone, much less fans, actually deal with this issue plaguing the sweet science? No one appears to have a single satisfactory answer.

Oh well, at least Barrera seemed happy in the wee hours of Saturday morning as I said hi to him walking out of the arena and into the busy casino. For the record, he was supposed to have fought Artur Beterbiev on the 21st of April, but pulled out of the match, having to settle instead for some work against Parker. I think it’s safe to say people were disappointed by that particular turn of events.

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GGG Already Preparing for Next Fight


GGG already preparing for next fight
By: Matthew N. Becher

​As boxing fans still debate the outcome from last Saturdays PPV fight between Gennady Golovkin and Danny Jacobs, one thing that for certain is, GGG got the win and is looking to get back in the ring no later than June.

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​Golovkin won on Saturday at Madison Square Garden to retain his WBA, WBC & IBF Middleweight titles. It was the first time in Golovkins career that he was taken to the 12th round of a fight and it ended his record 23 consecutive fight KO streak.

​Most people are now waiting for the outcome of Canelo v. Chavez Jr. before Canelo and Golovkin can make it official to share a ring later this year in September. Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, was not quick to say that his man would be jumping at the bit to fight GGG.

“I actually believe [the percentages of making the fight] decrease. It all depends on the negotiations – and we’ll continue talks – but now obviously we clearly know who the ‘A’ side is and that’s obviously Canelo. So I’m going to instruct my president, Eric Gomez, to continue talks and, hopefully, it can get done,” said De La Hoya to the latimes.com.

One thing that may happen before any mega fight with Canelo, is another fight for Golovkin this June, in his native Kazakhstan. One man who would love to see GGG fight in June is his trainer Abel Sanchez, who likes his man to be in the ring rather than only fighting twice a year.

“We’re not gonna hold Gennady back on the chance that there is a fight in September…This year we hope to fight four times, that’s what he wants…” Sanchez told Badlefthook.com

​The fight on the table right now would be against the WBO middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders. Saunders has been extremely inactive as a fighter, only fighting once in 2016, which was also his lone title defense. He has recently spoken about being ready to travel to Kazakhstan and fight Golovkin to unify the entire division.

“I’ll travel anywhere. I’m not bothered about fighting him in Kazakhstan — I’ll fight him in a field for all I care.
“He wants the WBO belt and I’m willing to put it on the line. Golovkin is strong but a boxer always beats a puncher and he’s never faced anyone as tricky as me.

“Jacobs gave him a real fight on Saturday but he isn’t in my class when I’m on form.”

​The one downfall about all this recent talk from Saunders is the fact that he spoke on his twitter page that he was giving the GGG camp only until the end of this week to sign a contract or else he was looking elsewhere for a fight. Very strange demand for a man who has only fought 2x in the last couple years. We will wait and see.

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Playing Favorites – The WBO Shows Its Love For Canelo Alvarez


Playing Favorites – The WBO Shows Its Love For Canelo Alvarez
By: Sean Crose

The World Boxing Organization’s middleweight champ, Billy Joe Saunders, may not be happy about it, but the sanctioning body has named one Canelo Alvarez as his mandatory opponent. That means Saunders is going to have to face Canelo if Saunders wants to hold on to the WBO title – provided, of course, that Canelo is himself is interested in the fight. Since Golden Boy, Canelo’s promoter, asked the WBO for the mandatory ranking, however, it appears that Canelo may indeed be zeroing in on a potential throwdown with Saunders. Or at least zeroing in on the WBO title.

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Let’s face it, Saunders has done nothing concrete since winning his belt off Andy Lee late last year to show that he wishes to challenge himself. By seeming to have shied away from matches with middleweight terror Gennady Golovkin and/or Canelo himself, Saunders has placed himself in a position where he is simply not well regarded. Worse still for the Englishman, he appeared far from stellar when he faced off against an opponent no one had ever heard of, one Artur Akavov, earlier this month. Such things do not make for good public relations.

Frankly, it appears as if the WBO might well prefer having red haired star Canelo holding on to its middleweight strap. After all, the sanctioning body let Canelo jump in front of the deserving but unknown Avtandil Khurtsidze, it’s number one contender, in order for Canelo to be next in line for Saunders. And while it’s true Khurtsidze can appeal to the organization regarding its ruling, the WBO has been brazenly open in admitting it’s played favorites here. Indeed, the organization has come right out and essentially said it chose Canelo as Saunders’ top mandatory simply because of the Mexican’s popularity. Make no mistake about it, the WBO wants big names.

The question now, of course, may well be how Saunders reacts to all this. While it’s true no one person can be defined by sound bites or Twitter rants, Saunders has at times presented himself as the most modern of modern fighters, the epitome of the low-risk athlete that has arguably made the sport even more marginalized than its previously been. So then, will Saunders drag things out as long as possible? Will be plead for postponement of the inevitable? Will he simply give up his hard earned crown? Or will he show the world that a fight with Canelo is actually all right by him?

Of course, there are those who are claiming Canelo wants a middleweight title to use as leverage against Golovkin. That’s a bit confusing, since Canelo is already clearly the A-side in any potential promotion between the two. Perhaps team Canelo feels that it can put GGG in a corner by holding all the cards – in other words, a big money fight AND one of the belts Golovkin craves. That seems rather silly, but like most fans, I don’t deal in untold millions of dollars, so, by and large, potential game playing (in this case, at least) comes off like a moot point at best to me. I just want to see fights that make the most competitive sense.

And, in this case, believe it or not, one of those fights is Saunders-Khurtsidze. While Saunders-Canelo is certainly intriguing and clarifying, Khurtsidze should get first crack (whether the WBO or its rules agree or not). Boxing, after all, is not a popularity contest. Scratch that – boxing IS a popularity contest. That doesn’t mean it should be, though.

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Billy Joe Saunders Continues Not To Impress


Billy Joe Saunders Continues Not To Impress
By: Sean Crose

Here’s the truth – I could see last Saturday’s WBO middleweight title match in Scotland between champion Billy Joe Saunders and Artur Akavov being scored a draw. No, I didn’t see the 23-0 Saunders losing the fight to his 16-1 opponent. Nor do I have much of a problem with the judges giving Saunders a unanimous decision nod. I simply think that a draw wouldn’t have been a terrible decision, either. The fight, after all, was rather close. And when one considers the fact that no one knew who Akavov was before Wednesday, it’s time to admit that Saturday’s performance didn’t do Saunders’ already tarnished reputation any favors.

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For starters, the Englishman hadn’t fought in about a year, since besting Ireland’s Andy Lee for his belt back in late 2015. Since then, Saunders has dealt with a career that’s been sidelined because of injuries and fights which have never come to fruition. A throwdown with middleweight counterpart GGG didn’t happen. A bout that could have led to a lucrative match with star Canelo Alvarez didn’t happen either. To add insult to injury, there’s a strong belief that Saunders didn’t want those potential big fights to happen. Judging by the man’s performance on Saturday it’s easy to suspect why.

For although Saunders didn’t look as bad as some say – or as he himself has apparently said – he certainly didn’t look on the level of GGG or Canelo. He arguably didn’t look on the level of fellow middleweights like Curtis Stevens and Daniel Jacobs, either. What Saunders looked like was a somewhat plodding professional with a degree of craftiness and a considerable amount of heart. Laudable assets, to be sure, but not the kind of things that lead to considerable wealth and greatness. Then again, perhaps considerable wealth and greatness aren’t things Saunders is looking for. Perhaps he’s more or less happy with where he is on the middleweight ladder and with what he has.

The problem, of course, is that what the man has is a world title. And world titles make fighters targets. Perhaps he can avoid GGG and Canelo forever, but it’s possible Saunders is still going to have trouble holding on to that WBO belt if he looks like he did on Saturday. Word is the man had to drop down from over 200 pounds in order to make weight for this weekend. Not good at all. Perhaps nothing can be done if Saunders wishes to go the Adonis Stevenson route and not mix it up with the top names in and near his division. He may want to be sure, however, that he’s always looking his best, no matter who it is he steps in the ring with from here on in.

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Billy Conn: The Anti-Low Risk Fighter


Billy Conn: The Anti-Low Risk Fighter
By: Sean Crose

Let’s just start right off by saying Billy Conn was most certainly not like many contemporary boxers. We live, after all, in the era of the catchweight, of the long marination, and of the slow weight acclimation. Conn would simply have rolled his eyes at this sort of thing. Oh, and before dismissing Conn as being some old timey lug, keep in mind that his footwork and overall skill was impressive even by today’s standards. While it’s true most fighters of long ago wouldn’t do well in the ring today, Conn might well be one of the few exceptions to the rule. Yup, he was that good.

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Allow me a moment to be crass here – Conn had balls. Real balls. And while it’s true that even the biggest modern cherrypicker is far from a coward if he’s willing to get hit in the face for a living, Conn was a rarity even by boxing’s tough standards. For Conn – wait for it – fought for the heavyweight championship of the world weighing no more than 175 pounds. And, as if that weren’t enough, he did so against none other than the great Joe Louis. That’s right, Conn stepped into the ring to face Louis in the spring of 1941 at a twenty pound weight disadvantage.

Think that’s crazy? Here’s what’s crazier – Conn almost won. Believe it. The slick Pittsburgh native made Louis look slow and uncomfortable for minute after minute that night at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Conn, a true “scientific fighter” just wouldn’t let Louis control the tempo. What’s more, he even hurt Louis late in the fight, buckling the great fighter’s knees. Yet that may have proved to be the gutsy fighter’s undoing.
For Louis, realizing it was time to really turn up the heat, started coming on strong. And Conn? Well, Conn did the absolute worst thing he could have done – he went toe to toe with the man. Why Conn, who had flustered Louis in the fight, decided at the worst possible moment to turn tough guy may be one of the sport’s great mysteries. Needless to say, Conn went down and out in true highlight reel fashion before the thirteenth round was over. He later blamed his stupidity – is there another word for it? – on his being a thick headed Irishman.

No matter. The man’s mistake cost him dearly. Although there was a rematch held at Yankee Stadium five years later – which was to be the first televised bout in history – the moment had passed. Louis, who famously claimed beforehand that Conn could run but not hide, won the second match by eighth round knockout. Regardless, Conn offers a lesson to modern fighters keen on the low risk – right reward school that seems to permeate boxing’s current consciousness. There’s no honor in getting hurt, to be sure. What’s more, boxers have every right to protect their well beings and finances. Yet they’re also fighters. And fighters fight.

They’re also athletes. And athletes challenge themselves – at least they do if they want to make the most of their careers.

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Get a Grip, Billy Joe Saunders


Get a Grip, Billy Joe Saunders
By: Brandon Bernica

​Billy Joe Saunders reminds me of Gollum from The Hobbit. Just as with Saunders’ belt, Gollum’s ring infatuates him with illusions of grandeur. Both are so committed to their prized possessions that their sanities hinge on protecting their gold at all times.

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​Truthfully, Saunders rejecting big-name fights is indicative of this nature. In fact, it isn’t lofty to suggest that he masquerades as a false champion with delusional sensibilities.

​First, Gennady Golovkin offered him a lucrative deal to unify titles – even ceding home turf advantage to Saunders for the fight. That wasn’t enough money for Billy Joe. Soon after, Golden Boy presented him with contracts to fight Golovkin victims Curtis Stevens and Willie Monroe. Both were turned down for unknown reasons.

​At this point, you’d probably assert that nothing could top these levels of avoidance from a “champion”. Think again. After reviewing terms to fight middleweight journeyman Gabe Rosado on the Canelo vs. Smith undercard, Saunders passed on the bout because Rosado is not a strong enough name to add to his resumé. While shocking, Saunders’ decisions signal bad news for the outlook on the rest of his career.

​Saunders’ career can fall into one of two directions from this point. One outcome of his stingy micromanagement could be a refusal of any big names to fight with him. While Saunders appears content to guard his belt against heavily outmatched opponents, he’ll eventually need a star fighter to bring him money and public respect. As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

​But what if an inverse scenario is true? What if big names prey on him, sensing the fear underlying his steady diet of match rejections? At some point, either public pressure or a sanctioning organization will force him into one of these fights, which could leave him exposed and stripped of marketability. By then, it will be too late to return to the negotiating table with the big boys with his career heading towards a sharp descent, leaving him little more than a cautionary tale.

​Sadly, Saunders’ unwillingness to fight only points to a common trend in today’s boxing world: fighters search for the highest reward while incurring the lowest risk. Floyd Mayweather made a career off of maximizing his earning potential without consistently challenging himself against the best. Mayweather utilized a bevy of excuses in rationalizing his behavior, and now other fighters are following suit. Note to the boxing world: you are not entitled. You made your name off of cutting your teeth and dedication; to give up this edge is a lead-in to disaster.

Saunders didn’t start out the tepid fighter he is now. His road to notoriety crossed through fellow up-and-comer Chris Eubank Jr and former world champion Andy Lee, winning both of his fights impressively en route to prominence. But the road to respect in boxing doesn’t end overnight. It endures night after night of painstaking work. Saunders will never win the adulation of boxing fans until he embraces this grind. Here’s hoping that that happens soon.


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Boxing Is Just So, Like, Unfair


Boxing Is Just So, Like, Unfair
By: Sean Cross

Being a newshound, I read, see and hear a lot about today’s young people. They’re pretty much looked down on the same way my generation (Generation X) was and my parent’s generation (The Baby Boomers) were. Sure enough, bashing “these kids today” seems to be a timeless global pastime. Perhaps the “Greatest Generation” got a pass, because, you know, it battled German and Japanese aggression and all (it’s hard to knock those rotten kids when they’re out there literally saving your ass), but that was clearly the exception rather than the rule. In other words, virtually all young people are sneered at and today’s young people are no exception. They’re also – like those who came before them – not nearly as bad as they’re made out to be.

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Still, there’s likely truths to be found in even the most excessive of criticisms The Boomers DID tend to be self-absorbed, for instance, and a whole lot of Gen Xrs WERE a bunch of lazy slackers. And, in regards to today’s young people, there is a sense of entitlement that seems to pervade much of the collective narrative. Take this new crop of top fighters, for instance: have you ever seen people clearly thinking it’s UNFAIR for them to have to challenge themselves?

I’m not referring to all of these rising stars, mind you, or even most of them. I’m talking here of the notable minority that inevitably ends up representing the vast majority. You know: the flappers, the hippies, the slackers. These were essentially subgroups that came to represent the entirety of their peers.
The same goes for the Billy Joe Saunders’, Canelo Alvarez’ and Danny Garcia’s of this era. When people look back someday at this time and place in boxing history, they won’t think Thurman-Porter and Ward-Kovalev. They’ll think of Billy Joe Saunders pricing himself out, of Canelo Alvarez giving up his belt and of Danny Garcia appearing downright disinterested in facing legitimate competition.

They’ll also think of the prevailing attitudes some of these contemporary fighters seem to have – which appear to ask: “Why on earth would you want me to challenge myself?” even though they’re all successful athletes. It’s this suspected line of thought, this assumed, unspoken accusation of “you’re just not getting it,” that also hampers the reputations of today’s fighters as a whole.

Then there’s the complete and total lack of self-awareness to go along with the bad attitudes. Guys like Billy Joe, Canelo and Danny talk tough, but come across as anything but. This is a shame, because I personally feel each one truly is a tough guy at heart. Indeed, I think none of these men are cowards. I just don’t think they see how bad they all look at the moment.

Sure enough, I think that perhaps these guys may not be capable of even understanding how poorly they appear to those outside their inner circles. Each is of an era where there are no losers, after all, where everyone is a winner, and where you’re perfectly awesome just the way you are. Although these assertions are healthy, they can be overused and can end up dulling ambition. In my humble opinion, that clearly may be the case here.

You did good in winning a belt, Billy Joe. Don’t worry about that Golovkin unless you’re offered a whole lot of money. You don’t have anything to prove. Same goes for you, Canelo. You beat Miguel Cotto, after all, and were brave enough to step up against Erislandy Lara a few years back. People can go put a sock in it. And you, Danny, don’t you mind what people say. You fought the best there was a while back. You’ve earned the right to take it easy now.

Such thinking, which borders on infantile when viewed through the perspective of the adult world, seemingly permeates the echo chambers of many of today’s rising stars. In fact, the whole sad spectacle becomes even more cringe worthy when you throw in the accompanying sense of procrastination. Both Billy Joe and Canelo probably seem to both feel they can beat Golovkin WHEN THEY’RE READY. News flash, fellas, you’re top level fighters. Saying you need time is like telling your mom you’ll get the trash out in a minute while the garbage truck is pulling up to the house.

Boxing may be a business, but someone might have to remind these fighters that boxing is also a sport. What’s more, fighters at the level they’re at are expected to fight the best competition out there – that or step down a few rungs on the figurative ladder. Give Canelo this, at least he gave up his title without trying to hold onto it without facing GGG. Now he needs to stop playing the tough guy. The same may ring true for others, as well.

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