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Top Rank on ESPN Preview: Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn


Top Rank on ESPN Preview: Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn
By: William Holmes

In rather surprising news in the month of June, Top Rank announced a partnership with ESPN to showcase some of their fighters on the network in live fights. HBO has long been the home for most of Top Rank’s fighters, but this announcement indicates that Top Rank is willing to go elsewhere to televise fights.

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Top Rank has decided to showcase their biggest draw, Manny Pacquiao, on ESPN on July 1st live from SunCorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. This will be the first time in over a decade that Manny Pacquiao will not be fighting on PPV.

The undercard will feature several prospects that boxing fans should be keep an eye on. Prospects such as Brock Jarvis, Umar Salamov, Shane Mosley Jr., and Irish Olympian Michael Conlan are all scheduled to compete.

The following is a preview of the WBO World Welterweight Championship match between Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao.

Jeff Horn (16-0-1) vs. Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2); WBO Welterweight Championship

Jeff Horn is not very well known in the United States, but he is the mandatory challenger for Manny Pacquiao’s WBO Welterweight Championship. Even though he will be a massive underdog, one can not overlook the fact that he will be fighting in front of his home crowd of Brisbane, Australia and that 60,000 screaming fans can only help him.

Horn has an edge on most of the physical intangibles. He is twenty eight years old and ten years younger than Manny Pacquiao. He will also have a three inch height advantage and a one inch reach advantage. The speed advantage obviously lies with Manny Pacquiao, as does the power advantage. Jeff Horn has eleven stoppages against B level opposition while Pacquiao has stopped thirty eight opponents, including some over the best the sport of boxing has to offer.

Jeff Horn has fought every single fight in his career either in Australia or New Zealand. He’s been very active and fought three times in 2016 and four times in 2015. Four of his first seven opponents had losing records, but despite the fact he’s never faced elite competition every one of his opponents since then has had a winning record.

Horn also has a notable amateur background as he made it to the quarterfinals in the 2012 Summer Olympics while representing Great Britain. Pacquiao, as is well known, was able to make the Philippine National Amateur Team but turned professional at the age of sixteen.

Horn’s most notable victories have come against Ali Funeka, Rico Mueller, Viktor Potnikov, and Randall Bailey. It should be noted that Horn got knocked down by Bailey, but was able to recover and have Bailey quit on the stool during round nine.

Pacquiao seems intent on taking his show around the world and is already looking past this fight to fight in the Philippines in his next bout. Australia will be the sixth country that Pacquiao has competed in.

Pacquiao has defeated the likes of Timothy Bradley Jr., Chris Algieri, Brandon Rios, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, David Diaz, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Lehlo Ledwaba.

His losses were to Timothy Bradley Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Erik Morales, and losses early on in his career to Medgoen Singsurat and Rustico Torrecampo.

Pacquiao is a giant favorite and this is probably why the bout will be taking place on free television instead of pay per view. However, Jeff Horn has a better chance of beating Pacquiao than McGregor has at beating Mayweather.

Additionally, Pacquiao is thirty eight years old and has been in some brutal wars inside the ring. A boxer can age overnight and that age often shows against an opponent that nobody expects to win.

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HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev


HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev
By: William Holmes

HBO Sports will present four fights on Pay Per View on Saturday night which will feature a main event rematch between the two top boxers in the light heavyweight division, Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.

Their first bout was a close and entertaining affair that saw Ward scratch out a decision victory after being knocked down early in the bout. Ward and Kovalev genuinely dislike each other and this bout should be as entertaining as the first one.

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Main Events and Roc Nation will be co-promoting this event which will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The following is a preview of three of the planned televised bouts.

Dmitry Bivol (10-0) vs. Cedric Agnew (29-2); Light Heavyweights

Prospect Dmitry Bivol is a two time Russian National Gold Medalist as an amateur at two different weights and has never tasted defeated. He lives in Russia but was born in Kyrgyzstan and has never tasted defeated.

Bivol will be four years younger than Agnew, who just turned thirty. They are both six feet tall. Agnew was a runner up in the National Golden Gloves as an amateur.

Both boxers have decent power, but Bivol appears to be the harder puncher. He has eight stoppage wins in only ten fights, while Agnew has fifteen stoppage wins and one stoppage loss.

Bivol has been very active and already fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016. He has defeated the likes of Samuel Clarkson, Robert Berridge, and Felix Valera. Bivol has never faced someone with a losing record, which is rare for prospects as they are usually brought up slowly.

Agnew’s biggest wins have come against boxers past their primes. He has defeated the likes of Yusaf Mack, Otis Griffin, and Daniel Judah. His two losses were to Sergey Kovalev and a man that Bivol has defeated, Samuel Clarkson.

Agnew is a decent boxer with a good looking record, but he’s been fairly inactive since his loss to Kovalev. He only fought once in 2017 and did not fight at all in 2016. This is a bout that Bivol should win quite easily.

Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0) vs. Moises Flores (25-0); WBA Junior Featherweight Title

Guillermo Rigondeaux is one of boxing’s best talents and unfortunately, one of boxing’s most avoided fighters.

He’s a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and a two time Gold Medalist in the world amateur championships. He’s slick, quick, and has some incredible defense on top of pin point accuracy. But, his style is considered boring by the average fan and he struggles to bring in a large fan base.

He’s facing his mandatory challenger for his WBA Junior Featherweight title, but it doesn’t appear Flores will be a real challenge to him.

Flores does have an edge in the physicals. He’s six years younger than Rigondeaux and will have a five inch height advantage and about a one inch reach advantage. He’s also been more active than Rigondeaux, but not by much. Flores fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015. Rigondeaux fought once in 2016 and once in 2015.

Flores also doesn’t have the amateur pedigree of Rigondeaux and hasn’t faced good opposition.

Rigondeaux has defeated the likes of James Dickens, Drian Francisco, Joseph Agbeko, Nonito Doniare, Roberto Marroquin, Teon Kennedy, and Rico Ramos. He has eleven stoppage wins on his record but has been unable to entice any of the other world champions to face him in the ring.

Flores has spent most of his career fighting in Mexico against sub-par opposition. He has seventeen stoppage victories, but only two of his past five fights resulted in a TKO or KO victory. His notable wins have come against Oscar Escandon and Mario Macias.

Rigondeaux needs an entertaining victory badly if he wants to stay relevant and land a date on HBO or Showtime. Hopefully he takes some risks to go for the stoppage on Saturday, but there’s little to no doubt that will emerge victorious.

Andre Ward (31-0) vs. Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1); WBO, WBA, and IBF Light Heavyweight Titles

Their first bout was close, very close, and many boxing aficionados thought Kovalev did enough to win the decision. However, the judges disagreed and scored the bout 114-113 on all three cards for Andre Ward.

Luckily for fight fans they get to witness a rare rematch between two of a division’s best on Saturday night, between two boxers who genuinely dislike each other.

Both boxers are nearing the end of their prime. Ward is thirty three years old and Kovalev is thirty four. They are both six feet tall and Kovalev will have a slight one and a half reach advantage on Ward.

Ward is known for his slick, defensive boxing and his accurate counter punching. Kovalev is known for his devastating power. Ward only has fourteen stoppages in his career while Kovalev has twenty six of his opponents.

However, Kovalev’s last two opponents made it all twelve rounds and he was not able to stop the aged Bernard Hopkins. Kovalev’s power appears to be waning.

Ward had a considerable amount of success as an amateur and was able to win the Gold Medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Kovalev won a gold medal in the Russian Amateur Championships, but did not experience the type of success Ward experienced as an amateur.

Ward has defeated the likes of Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, Edwin Rodriguez, Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, Mikkel Kessler, Edison Miranda, and of course Sergey Kovalev.

Kovalev has defeated the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Ismayl Sillah, Nathan Cleverly, and Gabriel Campillo.

Ward is a slick, intelligent boxer who’s able to adjust his style mid match to defeat his opponent. Kovalev’s power caught him off guard in their first fight, but he was able to adjust and win a majority of the rounds in the second half of the fight. Kovalev’s power appears to be escaping him and he looked frustrated in the later rounds against Ward.

Even though their first bout was very close, a rematch favors Ward and this writer expects him to win by a more comfortable margin.

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Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Kell Brook


Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Kell Brook
By: William Holmes

On Saturday afternoon at the Bramall Lane Football Ground in Sheffield, England one of the best fights that could be made in the welterweight division will occur.

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Uber prospect Errol Spence Jr. will take on IBF Welterweight Champion Kell Brook in Kell Brook’s home town and this bout will be televised on Showtime in the United States.

Eleven bouts are currently scheduled to take place on the undercard, including a WBA Super Middleweight Title bout between George Groves and Fedor Chudinov. It’s unlikely that the Groves bout will be televised in the United States absent a quick stoppage.

The following is a preview of the IBF Welterweight Title fight. The lead promoter for this bout is Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.

Kell Brook (36-1) vs. Errol Spence Jr. (21-0); IBF Welterweight Title

The welterweight division has always been a stacked division full of talent. Keith Thurman currently holds the WBA and WBC World Titles, Kell Brook holds the IBF Title, and Manny Pacquiao holds the WBO title, but only Kell Brook had the courage to move up two weight classes to face Gennady Golovkin and give him a better fight than most expected.

Brook could have taken an easy fight after his bout with Golovkin and most boxing experts would not have blamed him. However, Brook has decided to take on one of the most dangerous prospects in the sport today, Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr.

Errol Spence was an amateur star on the United States amateur scene and was a 2011 US National Champion and a 2012 Olympic team member. Kell Brook didn’t compete in the Olympics, but was able to experience a good amount of success as an amateur in England, including two Amateur Boxing Association of England titles.

Spence appears to have the advantage in the physicals. Spence will have about a half an inch height advantage, a three inch reach advantage, and is four years younger than Brook. Spence also appears to have the edge in power. Spence has stopped eighteen of his opponents and is currently riding an eight fight stoppage streak.

Brook also has power in his hands as he has stopped twenty five of his opponents. Seven of his past eight wins were stoppage victories, but his last bout was a TKO loss.

Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Spence fought twice in 2016 and four times in 2015. Brook fought twice in 2016 and twice in 2015.

Spence has soundly defeated the likes of Leonard Bundu, Chris Algieri, Alejandro Barrera, Chris Van Heerden, Phil Lo Greco, Samuel Vargas, Ronald Cruz, Emmanuel Lartei Lartey. Kell Brook has defeated the likes of Kevin Bizier, Frankie Gavin, Shawn Porter, Vyacheslav Senchenko, Carson Jones, Matthew Hatton, Lovemore Ndou, Michael Jennings.

This is a tough bout to choose the winner. Spence will be in enemy territory and the 30,000 expected fans in attendance will be loudly cheering for Brook. However, Brook is coming off a TKO loss to Gennady Golovkin and has not been seen in the ring since.

Additionally, Brook will have to make the cut back down to 147 again after competing in the middleweight division.

This is a rare time that we get to see a young prospect with high expectations take on an established champion still in the midst of his athletic prime, and it’s a fight that hardcore boxing fans are looking forward to.

It’s a fight that this writer expects Errol Spence Jr. to officially announce to the world that he is, in fact, the next big thing with a convincing and clear victory.

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What did we just watch? Saul Alvarez vs. Julio Chavez Jr. Aftermath


What did we just watch? Saul Alvarez vs. Julio Chavez Jr. Aftermath
By: Kirk Jackson

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 49-1-1 (34 KO’s) destroyed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. 50-3-1 (32 KO’s) in a bout marketed as a Mexican Civil-War over Cinco de Mayo weekend.

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In what resembled an obvious mismatch from the opening bell, Alvarez pummeled Chavez Jr. over the course of 12 rounds.

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But why?

How was Alvarez able to seamlessly destroy Chavez Jr. at will after all the hype behind the fight? Where was the retaliation from Chavez Jr.?

What happened to the narrative and stereotype of all Mexicans fighting to the death, leaving it all in the ring?
What we witnessed was a combination of five factors:

Difference in skill/experience –

Alvarez is the more experienced of the two in spite of having relatively the same amount of fights. The difference is world titlists faced; 13 compared to six for Chavez Jr.

Alvarez gained an education fighting the likes of Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather, Amir Khan, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, etc., which is a step up compared to guys like Andy Lee, Carlos Molina and Sergio Martinez for Chavez Jr.

Regarding skill, Alvarez has superior upper body movement, foot work, punch-variation, punch accuracy, counter-punching ability and great overall awareness.

In short, Alvarez made the fight look like a sparring match – he even stood up in his corner between rounds.

Difference in weight –

How much did Chavez Jr. sacrifice while cutting weight? His punches lacked snap and his timing was off. It’s unfair to say this is primarily due to weight loss, however it is fair to speculate.

Chavez Jr. attributed his performance to inactivity.

“Canelo is a great fighter, he did his job tonight and the inactivity, it hurt me here tonight,” Chavez Jr. said.

“I always thought he was a good fighter. He just had better timing, a better fighter tonight. The activity helped him and inactivity hindered me.”

The addition of weight for this fight clearly affected Alvarez in a positive way. He looked more energetic and his body responded well to the higher weight.
By most observers, Alvarez was considered huge at 154 lbs. and the last few years Alvarez may have done his body a disservice fighting at that weight.

Alvarez may have also fooled the public for years, killing himself to squeeze down to 154 lbs.

Leading up to the fight against Chavez Jr., Alvarez suggested the preparation during his camp and the sparring in particular helped acclimate to bigger foes.

“I’ve been feeling very good. I’ve been training with sparring partners who are much bigger, who are light heavyweights that are much bigger than me,” he said.
“I’m feeling very comfortable, and very strong. I’m not having to dehydrate as much. I’m still having to go down in weight because I’m above the weight that the fight is scheduled at, but I don’t have to dehydrate totally.”

He looked fresh, like a brand new rejuvenated fighter. Although beating up a punching bag in human form (Chavez Jr.) doesn’t hurt.

Which leads to the next factor…
Speed –

“It was really negative, everything, totally, we did not win a round. It is not possible to cover the sun with a finger, Canelo Alvarez is simply better technically speaking,” Nacho Berstain said to ESPN Deportes.

“I asked him to throw punches, simply to throw punches but he was afraid to throw a jab or a certain combination because he knew that three or four punches would come back in return, and those doubts were born in his head real early and they stayed with him for the entire fight.”

Berstain, the trainer of Chavez Jr. for the fight against Alvarez specified the main problem; speed and technical ability.

We knew entering the fight Alvarez held the advantage of hand speed and foot speed, but the speed and reflexes of Alvarez kept Chavez Jr. passive throughout the fight.

There’s an old adage in boxing, “Speed kills,” and this was not an exception.

Retaliation, the counter-action to an action and then the threat of retaliation is what keeps aggressive fighters at distance.

Speed, timing and the threat of attack is the greatest asset for any counter-puncher.

History/consistency –
There’s another proverb, “A tiger never changes its stripes,” this was another example with Chavez Jr. Not to beat up on the guy (no pun intended), but there is a history of poor training habits and not performing well in big fights.

The fight against Martinez is a prime example, as he lost every round with the exception of the 12th round when he scored a knock down.

History repeated itself this past weekend, with the exception of Chavez Jr. scoring a knock down or landing anything significant.

“I don’t blame the fans for being frustrated with is performance, they are quite right in feeling that way, and I feel the same way too, and he must also be frustrated, his father too, everyone,” said Berstain regarding the fight against Alvarez.

“He should apply himself and he should behave like a boxing pro and success will come to him.”

Professionalism is something Chavez Jr. should continue to practice going forward. An example on a lack of professionalism is his series of failed drug tests in the past.

On February 28th, 2013, Chavez Jr. was suspended for nine months and fined $900,000 (30 percent of his purse) by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for marijuana following his loss to Martinez.

It was the second failed test for Chavez Jr., who in 2009 tested positive for a banned diuretic following his bout with Troy Rowland.

Chavez Jr. may be past the failed test issues but there is still a lack of consistency.

Which transitions to the last factor…
Gift and curse of the name –

Chavez Jr. is named after Mexican great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. No matter how hard he tries, it’s damn near impossible to live up to or exceed his father’s accomplishments.

Escaping his father’s shadow is a difficult task and something Chavez Jr. struggled with his entire career in spite of the success achieved as a professional and the accomplishments achieved outside the ring as a man.

This comparison is a struggle the children of other famous celebrities deal with as well.

Basketball icon Michael Jordan (Jeffrey and Marcus Jordan) can relate, the children of LeBron James may endure similar comparisons and obstacles well.

Chavez Jr. has lived in his father’s shadow ever since he was a child and it’s an unfair situation to be placed in.
There was often a question of heart and desire regarding Chavez Jr. A question of why is he fighting?

Some suggest he is fighting for the acceptance of his father. Fighting for his father’s approval, his father’s respect and love – which he already appears to have.

Chavez Sr. always appears unconditionally supportive of his son.

But when your motives are in question, when there is a question of identity and what your heart truly wants, in many cases the fighter will not perform to expectations.

Only Chavez Jr. can answer these questions, but this may explain the performances throughout his career and what some critics deem as underachieving.

Because of the name, Chavez Jr. was afforded special opportunities. But because of the name, it was impossible to meet expectations.

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