How Will We Remember Gennady Golovkin’s Career?
By: Kirk Jackson
Fresh off his first official defeat of his professional career, questions surround the former middleweight champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin 38-1-1 (34 KO’s).
Questions regarding his next move, which direction his career carries into the future, questions pertaining to the very fabric and foundation for his career. This past fight for instance, why he was pushed back by the smaller man?
Succumbing to defeat via the hands of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 50-1-2 (34 KO’s) sets an astonishing precedent, but not for the fact Golovkin suffered defeat to an elite fighter. It’s the fashion of how defeat manifested.
The fact the smaller man originally beginning his career at junior welterweight (140lbs.), walked down and stalked the career long middleweight is a bold statement. Future Hall of Fame fighter and ESPN boxing analyst Andre Ward expands on this notion.
Leading up to the rematch, Golovkin and head trainer Abel Sanchez asked, begged, pleaded for Alvarez to stand and fight, to not utilize lateral movement in the rematch, to give the fans an action-packed show, thus providing Golovkin with greater opportunity to sink his powerful punches in hopes of bashing the Mexican star.
Team Golovkin trashed Alvarez leading up to the rematch. Some of their ire (rightfully so) drew from the failed drug tests from the banned substance clenbuterol and the other part of their frustration stemmed from the results and how the first fight transpired.
However, Golovkin and Sanchez got what they asked for, Canelo took the fight to Triple G, walking him down, pushing the bigger fight back, controlling the story of the fight, as Ward eloquently stated to Stephen A. Smith during their brief debate regarding the results of the rematch between Golovkin and Alvarez.
The wounds are still fresh, it’s natural for one to be a prisoner of the moment and to make declarations and assessments to what was just witnessed.
Ultimately as time passes, data continues to collect, the tea leaves assemble and we’ll be able to make a full assessment of the career of Gennady Golovkin.
His name will forever be linked with Alvarez and as it stands now, he is on the wrong side of history.
Looks like Golovkin's career will be a hard pill to swallow, never won the big fight against an a-side, never unified and struggled against the best in the division. Seems like his legacy might be his run against lesser opposition and sparring stories. #CaneloGGG2
— LukieBoxing (@LukieBoxing) September 16, 2018
The tweet from podcaster and editor @LukieBoxing is a fair statement about Golovkin’s career.
Digesting that statement, where is Golovkin’s signature victory against the A-side opponent? Which win was his signature win if he has one? Who is it against? Was his signature win against Daniel Jacobs, another close, disputed fight? Or is it against David Lemieux? Or perhaps his signature win was against the undefeated Kell Brook, the natural welterweight moving up two weight classes.
Addressing the issue of unification of the world titles, Golovkin spent his entire professional career at middleweight and entering the rematch with Alvarez was a world champion since 2010.
You would think somewhere throughout that long reign, unification of the division would have transpired right?
Sanctioning bodies play a role, same with promoters, promotional companies and networks. These components play part and such is the dynamic of boxing from the business perspective.
Even still, if going off the words and merits of Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez or promoter Tom Loefller, the past four years or so Golovkin has been the A-side – meaning headliner of boxing, thus other fighters should want to fight him due to his stature in boxing and earning potential.
But both Sanchez and Loefller were also quoted stating no one wants to fight Golovkin because they are afraid to get knocked out.
The statements contradict each other and its perplexing trying to determine the purpose and angle for how they addressed Golovkin’s lack of great opposition and failure to unify the division.
Even Golovkin doesn’t think fighters are necessarily afraid to fight him.
As far as the fear factor his handlers attempted to plant into the minds of the public, sometimes it went as far as exposing gym wars and sparring stories – even at the expense of others. Golovkin’s sparring with Sergey Kovalev is part of the legend.
In an interview with HustleBoss, Abel Sanchez said, “He [Kovalev] was one of the sparring partners that we had. He was with me for about a year and a half.”
“Really Kovalev was afraid of Golovkin when he was in the ring. I couldn’t spar him too much because he showed too much respect for Golovkin. He just fell apart in there with Golovkin.”
For years Triple G was perceived by media and fans alike as some mythological boogeyman due to false narrative initiating with Triple G’s trainer and promoter, to be echoed by networks like HBO, ESPN and repeated by other writers and reporters throughout the media.
But for some reason, Golovkin never unified the division. The last great middleweight Golovkin is compared to actually unified the division during his reign at middleweight. That person is Bernard Hopkins.
Jermain Taylor acquired all the world titles at middleweight by virtue of defeating Hopkins.
By comparison, current WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford acquired all junior welterweight titles, unifying the division in two years’ time, while the current undisputed, unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, captured every world title in his division under less than five years’ time.
Boxing history shows, if a truly great champion cannot unify the division and this can be virtue by a variety of circumstances, that great champion moves up in weight class, seeking greater and often times more luxurious challenges.
Manny Pacquiao is a prime example. Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Sergio Martinez, Vasyl Lomachenko, etc.
The indication is if Golovkin experienced difficulty securing bouts against other elite fighters in his weight class, or experienced securing bouts against the champions holding the other titles, the logical move is forcing that belt holder to vacate or to move up in weight and seek other challenges.
But that wasn’t the path for Golovkin.
There is nothing wrong with his path, he has every right to handle his career, finances, whatever he wants how he sees fit. But when comparing him to other great all-time fighters or even his contemporaries and great fighters for this era, he falls short.
And now, the same people suggesting Golovkin is an all-time great, legendary, unstoppable fighter are the same ones dismissing his greatness in light of his recent defeat. Remember, HBO analyst Jim Lampley openly stated Golovkin’s career is a failure if he fails to defeat Alvarez. Lampley was the conductor on the Triple G train.
“He’s trying to make a statement [Saturday] night to say that he’s the greatest middleweight of all time,” Lampley said about Golovkin leading up to the rematch.
“But if he loses the fight, his entire career was a failure,” Lampley continues. “If he loses this fight, he’s not just losing to Canelo. He’s losing to the six years he spent in Europe at the beginning of his professional career, chasing a title held by Felix Sturm, for which he was never going to get a chance to compete [to win].”
“He’s losing to a decision he made about how to construct his career, that basically put him in limbo for six years and ultimately brought him to the United States as something of an underground legend. What would Triple-G be if he had come straight from his loss in Athens at the end of the Olympics in 2004 to the United States? Could’ve been an entirely different story. Could’ve been a much, much bigger star. Could’ve had a larger imprint on the history of boxing.”
For history to reserve a fonder memory of Golovkin he needs drastic wins against higher level opponents but at 36-years-old, sand falls faster in the hourglass and with it opportunities shrink.
There was a lapse of talent in the middleweight division for most of the decade, only recently experiencing a resurgence of talent with the emergence of Daniel Jacobs, Billie Joe Saunders, Jermall Charlo, Saul Alvarez, Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Demetrius Andrade.
Can Golovkin beat Alvarez in a third fight? It’s possible, it’s not like he wasn’t competitive – it was a close fight. Same applies for Golovkin’s chances against Jacobs as he defeated in the past. How does Golovkin fare against the other fighters mentioned?
Will Golovkin challenge the other middleweights or will he emulate Hopkins, ascending to the higher weight divisions, facing new challenges as the previous middleweight king before him did?
Or is he on his way towards retirement, seeking another large payday or two, aiming for further financial security?
If the latter option is the answer, securing one or two more fights with Canelo is should be the objective for Triple G. Whether it comes to fruition is another story.
For Golovkin, the context of the comparisons will dictate how he’s remembered.
World class trainer and boxing analyst Teddy Atlas implies, was Golovkin overrated; a talented fighter with good skills but with glaring weaknesses never exposed in the ring because of favorable match-ups against weaker opposition and media hype.
Which begs the question, how will we remember Gennady Golovkin?
Miguel Cotto Built a Legacy of Tough Fights and Few Words
By: Eric Lunger
Miguel Cotto, a man of few words and larger-than-life deeds in the ring, retired from boxing this weekend. At age 37, Cotto dropped a unanimous decision to Saddam Ali in a tough and hard-hitting bout, bowing out on arguably the sport’s greatest stage, Madison Square Garden in New York City. Gracious in defeat, Cotto thanked his fans and summarized his boxing career with characteristic brevity: “thank you [to] all the fans. I am proud to call MSG my second home. I had the opportunity to provide the best for my family because of the sport.” In an age of unrelenting celebrity narcissism, Miguel Cotto spent 17 years in the hurt business for his family; the boxing glory was incidental.
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter
Turning pro in 2001, Miguel captured his first world title in 2004, the WBO World super lightweight belt. He then reeled off six successful defenses, the last against Paulie Malignaggi in 2006, a twelve-round unanimous win. Cotto then went up to 147, winning the vacant WBA World welterweight belt against then-undefeated Carlos Quintana in Atlantic City, in December of 2006.
After four successful defenses — including back-to-back wins over Zab Judah and Shane Mosley — Cotto relinquished the WBA belt in July 2008, suffering his first loss against Antonio Margarito (TKO 11th) in a bloody and controversial bout. But in February of 2009, Cotto bounced back, winning the WBO welterweight belt from Michael Jennings (at MSG). In his third defense, Cotto took on the great Manny Pacquiao, then at the height of his talent. Pacquiao won by TKO in the 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in an incredible, action-filled thriller.
Cotto then went up to super welterweight, winning the WBA title by stopping Yuri Foreman in nine rounds at Yankee Stadium in June 2010. After a successful defense against Ricardo Mayorga, Cotto faced Margarito for a second time, battering the Mexican fighter into a ninth-round retirement. After Margarito had been exposed with doctored hand-wraps against Shane Mosley, Cotto’s revenge victory was all the sweeter, and called into question the outcome of the first fight.
In May of 2012, Miguel faced undefeated Floyd Mayweather at the 154-pound limit, and lost a unanimous twelve round decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, in one of Mayweather’s most coldly efficient exhibitions of defense and counter punching. After a consecutive loss to Austin Trout, Cotto sought new challenges in the middleweight division, defeating Sergio Martinez for the WBC title in June of 2014. This set up a great crossroads battle with rising Mexican superstar Saul Canelo Alvarez, in Las Vegas in November of 2015. Alvarez took the twelve-round decision and the belt.
This time, it would be a nineteen-month layoff before Cotto returned to the ring, as he faced Yoshihiro Kamegai for the vacant WBO super welterweight belt in August of 2017. Kamegai put in a game effort, but Cotto gave his fans one of his finest performances to date. Not content, however, to retire on that note, Cotto decided to finish his career with one more fight, this time at MSG against a top opponent.
That Cotto choose a tough, competitive fight for his last bout, when by all rights he could have taken a victory lap, speaks volumes about who he is as an athlete and a person. As a fighter, he could duck and slip like a bantamweight, his right hand was held high to protect his chin, and he came forward like a dancing bulldog. With his left hook as his best punch, he could throw it as a lead, or from inside. Cotto fought hard, always gave the fans his best, and he took on all the big names of the sport. He summed up his approach to boxing in one of the final press conferences: “I have always dedicated myself fully and worked hard; now [I am] finishing my career on my own terms.” A four weight-class champion, Miguel Cotto leaves behind a legacy of great achievement as a boxer and genuine integrity as a person.
Don’t Call It A Comeback: Boxing Insider Interview with Yuandale ‘Money Shot’ Evans
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: BOXING INSIDER INTERVIEW WITH YUANDALE ‘MONEY SHOT’ EVANS
By: John Freund
Yuandale Evans has fought 20 pro fights and maintains an impressive 19-1 record, but his toughest fight came outside of the ring as he battled his own promoters for years in what has sadly become an all-too-common storyline in professional boxing: The never-ending contractual dispute. Evans fought only twice in 5 years during the prime of his career, yet somehow maintained the mental and emotional fortitude necessary to remain in peak fighting condition. And just when he was about to call it quits, the Boxing Gods came calling in the form of a short-notice fight against former World Champion, Billel Dib… on a Lou DiBella card, no less! Evans made the most of his opportunity, scoring a hard-fought unanimous decision upset. We talked with Evans about his trials and tribulations, the long hard road to success, and what lies ahead for the man they call ‘Money Shot.’
Tell me about your background. Why did you get into boxing?
When I got into boxing, I was only 10. I have a younger brother who started boxing a year before the age amateur boxers are supposed to start fighting. So I was supporting him and traveling with him a lot, and I took a liking to it. Before that I was a straight-A student. I was into arts, drawing, coloring, computers – definitely computers – that’s one of the things I went to college for, computer engineering. I was always a laid-back, people-person. I didn’t know I could fight, because I never got into fights.
So what was that 1st fight like? A lot of butterflies?
Without the head gear and with the smaller gloves, I felt like a bird let out of a cage – like I could do anything I wanted – that I could hit, that I couldn’t be touched. And it was a lot easier for me, being that I have a pro-style, I’m a big puncher. I definitely was nervous – my debut was on HBO in Biloxi, Mississippi, on a Roy Jones Jr. undercard. So I was definitely nervous being that it was going to be televised.
After a promising start to your career, you suffered a 1st round KO in your only loss to a very tough opponent, Javier Fortuna. What happened in that fight?
Both of us being southpaws, I went up and he went over. He landed with a lot of power, and my gloves touched the mat, but the ref didn’t say anything! He didn’t call it a knockdown. I was a little confused by that, and I was hurt too. I had never been hurt before in my entire life! But oh man, I was hurt… and he rushed me with a bunch of punches and he pinned me on the ropes. My corner didn’t tell me to hold, and I had never had that experience before, so instead of grabbing and holding, or moving out of there, I continued to fight. It was just a case of me never being in that type of situation before, and not really knowing what to do.
After that fight, you had a 39-month layoff between 2012 and 2015 due to contractual issues with various promoters. What was that time like for you?
It was one of the worst times of my life. I had started going back to college, so I started getting in debt with student loans. And my team stopped believe in me. I actually left my trainer that I had been with since I was 10. I was really upset because I felt like I couldn’t get to where I should go or where I should be, but at the same time, I feel like I had to go through all that to become the man I am today.
How do you stay mentally motivated during those lean years?
I’ve always been mentally motivated. I’ve never had male role models, so I’ve always motivated myself to do better. I just decided to put in the work. I started getting back in the gym, getting in tip-top shape. I was at training camps, I was sparring everybody who was winning and fighting – every top guy. And everyone was promising me things, saying, “hey, we didn’t know you were still in the game, we’re going to get you signed.” It was basically all just to keep me in training camp, to get their guys more work.
Did you ever think of quitting?
Oh definitely (laughs). Right before DiBella called me, I was telling my fiancé, “I’m done with this.” I was at a point where I’m either going to work a job and go back to school, or I’m going to box. And being a boxer wasn’t paying the bills. I kept leaving jobs to go to training camp and to go to the gym and train for fights that I was getting called for.
Were you still getting a lot of calls?
Oh yeah, we were getting calls. It could be a guy that’s 100-0, and we’d say, “yeah, we’ll fight him.” They’d say ‘okay,’ and they’d give us a BS purse. We’d say, “yeah, we’ll take it anyway, we just want to get on TV.” And then a week or two down the line, they’d call and say, ‘Ohhh, Evans is too tough. We don’t want that type of fighter, we’re looking for a lower caliber fighter.’
Your last fight was your first in 1.5 years, and you took it on short notice – 1 month after you proposed to your fiancé – to face an extremely tough Billel Dib. Going into that fight, Dib was ranked #6 by the WBO. Not to mention he is the bigger guy, and you were jumping up in weight. How did you prepare for all of that?
I had 5 sparring partners. I sparred 2 junior welterweights, and 1 middleweight. I was doing resistance sparring with those guys – what that is, is no break/no bell, 4/4/4. I started swimming. I was dieting. I started running like 7 miles every other day. And I was doing the sprint-and-run workout that Adrian Broner taught me when I was in training camp with him. This was also the first time I actually watched one of my opponent’s fight videos. He fights tall, so I actually thought he was a lot taller (laughs)… I had a 6-foot sparring partner!
You scored a tough UD win, which has given you a lot of attention. What are your hopes for the future now that you have a spotlight on you?
I’m looking for titles, man. I’m back down at 126, and I’m looking for title fights at 126 – I’m looking to take that division over. I want to at least fight 2 more times this year, before the year is out. I’m looking for those big names.
What advice do you have for young fighters looking to sign with promoters? What should they look out for and be aware of?
My advice, for one: never give up. Even when it gets bad, even when it gets rough, even when you lose your first fight – never give up. Adversity should fuel your fire, it should make you want to go harder. Keep your focus, be level-headed, and just keep going and keep driving. As far as with the promoters and managers, it’s political. If you’re a money-maker, they’re gonna deal with you. If you’re not a money-maker, you have to become one… you have to become TV material. My approach is: be polite, be a gentleman, and be somebody that can kick ass too.
You were successful after two very long layoffs in your career. What advice do you have to any fighter looking to make a comeback after a long layoff?
My advice would be to stay in the gym. Stay mentally and physically in shape. Make sure your body can go those rounds. Dieting – I’m a small guy, I’m not a big eater anyway, so I can’t really give a dieting suggestion. I just stayed ready and I did a lot of sparring. I did 12 or 15 rounds just to be prepared. I sparred with junior welterweights and a middleweight to make sure I could take their punches. Just keep going hard and keep in shape and keep training.
Besides Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson, who’s the greatest boxer of all time?
Roberto Duran. I met him when I fought out in Vegas on B-hop and Roy Jones’ card. I got a pic too. He’s a great guy. He looks like a giant Super Mario brother (laughs).
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, and congrats on getting engaged – when’s the big day?
We’ve got the month – not the official date. September of next year, Cancun.
Great. Hopefully you’ll be a champion by then…
Hopefully I’ll be more than 1 by then!
Was Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker On Drugs His Entire Career?
Was Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker On Drugs His Entire Career?
By: Ken Hissner
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, 40-4-1 (17), held the WBC, IBF, WBA lightweight titles, IBF super lightweight title and the WBC welterweight title.
Whitaker lost 3 of his last 4 fights and within them his win over Andrey Pestryaev, 20-1, on October 17, 1997 was reversed to a ND when he was found to test positive for cocaine. He was given a 6 month suspension for his bout in Foxwoods Resort, in Mashantucket, CT, and agreed to random testing and again was found positive for cocaine. He then entered a drug & alcohol rehabilitation center.
In talking with one of the most prominent Philadelphia boxing trainers he made the remark to this writer “the best boxer P4P ever was Pernell Whitaker. Just think if he hadn’t been on drugs how good he would have been”. I first thought “what is he smoking?” Forget the drugs but we all know “Sugar” Ray Robinson was the best P4P boxer that ever lived.
About a week later at a “signing show” one of Whitaker’s 1984 Olympic team members was there and I told him what I heard. He remarked “Ken, someone took his piss tests after every fight!” The Whitaker showed up late at the signing show and was his usual arrogant self after I asked him “what was your toughest fight” and he replied “all of them!”
We even today have boxers such as Cuban Luis “King Kong” Ortiz and Russian Alexander Povetkin; both heavyweight contenders failing drug tests.
Which Path Will Keith Thurman Take?
Which path will Keith Thurman take?
By: Kirk Jackson
Unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s) was in attendance at last weekend’s big boxing event at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Thurman witnessed former adversary Shawn Porter improve to 27-2-1 (17 KO’s), defeating Andre Berto31-5 (24 KO’s) via 9th round TKO in a WBC welterweight title eliminator.
Porter, triumphant in his first bout since losing to Thurman in June of last year, has lobbied for a rematch ever since the decision was announced.
The Cleveland native accentuated his desire for a rematch with Thurman in his post-fight interview with Showtime reporter Jim Gray.
“I was just up here wishing he said yes — that’s the fight I want next,” Porter said of Thurman, who was ringside for the bout.
“The people wanna see me fight Keith Thurman.I understand that he has other obligations, but right now we’re just gonna move forward, doing what we do. I’m gonna allow my dad to do what he always does. And we’ll stay blessed, we’ll stay ready and hopefully that WBC title is next.”
In response to Porter’s wishes, Thurman at the very least said he is ready for a sequel.“His team was adamant about the rematch, and now he’s fought his way to earn that,” Thurman said.
“We just need to sit down and talk about it. He’s hungry. You see the way he fights. It could be a great fight again.”
Their fight last June was one of the best fights of 2016 and is a fight anyone wouldn’t mind watching again.
With Porter moving past Danny Garcia and Amir Khan in the WBC welterweight rankings, Porter has first dibs if Thurman wants to hold onto and defend his WBC portion of the welterweight title.
But there are a few other options Porter and the Showtime network alluded to for Thurman.
Thurman mentioned he wants to fight legends. With Floyd Mayweather 49-0 (26 KO’s) in talks to face mixed martial arts star Connor McGregor; a fight with Thurman appears unlikely. That leaves current WBO welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao59-6-2 (38 KO’s).
Pacquiao is scheduled to face Jeff Horn 16-0-1 in July. Many regard this fight as a joke, but this may be a tune-up fight for something bigger towards the end of the year. A unification bout with Thurman would be nice.
Thurman mentioned fighting again in November, which leaves plenty of time for Pacquiao if he defeats Horn.
Only thing standing in the way is the three headed monster in charge of making Pacman’s fights; Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, head trainer Freddie Roach and financial advisor Michael Koncz.
Pacquiao could use his political power and trump them all, calling his own shots and take the challenge of Thurman. But what we’ll likely see is the safe, financial choice, regarding who he ultimately ends up fighting.
Another option is the winner of the Kell Brook 36-1 (25 KO’s) and Errol Spence 21-0 (18 KO’s) IBF clash taking place May 20th in Sheffield, Yorkshire on Showtime.
Hardcore boxing enthusiasts finally caught a glimpse of what can potentially be; with Thurman and Brook standing next to each other and talking about the possibility of facing one another soon. Perhaps they are speaking it into existence.
Spence has to get past Brook – which will not be an easy task.
Brook is undefeated as a welterweight and is regarded as the best welterweight depending who you ask. Former super middleweight champion Carl Froch believes Brook was the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather prior to losing to middleweight king Gennady Golovkin last October.
“Brook is the heir to the welterweight throne and can be the best in the world. There is no reason he can’t take over, but there is a big ‘if’ as well,” said Froch.
Spence is not short on confidence, neither is Thurman. Of course, the match-ups depend on who wins between Brook and Spence.
For match-making sake, Thurman and Spence share the same advisor (Al Haymon) and it may be easier to make this fight – in what appears to be an unofficial welterweight tournament taking place.
As it stands in this current welterweight landscape, Thurman is the main man and should be regarded as the best fighter in the division. It’ll be interesting watching the path he takes to continue to prove it.
Boxers Who Were Still Champs When Their Careers Ended Due to Injury or Death
Pirog, Hernandez, Simon and Valero’s Careers Ended as Champions!
By: Ken Hissner
Sometimes a champion can only be stopped by injury or death. First we will look at Russia’s Demitry “Grandmaster” Pirog, 20-0 (15), who was WBO Middleweight champion. He gave up his title to challenge Gennady “GGG” Golovkin instead of his top contender Hassan N’Dam which cost him his title. In training he suffered a debilitating (ruptured disc) back injury and never fought again. His last fight was on May 1st, 2012 in his third title defense.
Pirog is the only boxer to defeat (by stoppage) current WBA World middleweight champion Danny “Miracle Man” Jacobs who was 20-0 at the time and 31-1 (28) now with 11 straight knockout wins since this defeat. Pirog was 16-0 at the time. It was July 31st in 2010 when they fought in Las Vegas, NV, for the vacant WBO title.
In his fourth bout Pirog won the Russian title defeating Sergey Tatevosyon, 25-5, by decision. In his eighth bout he stopped Juan Manuel Alaggio, 16-4-1, of Argentina. In his tenth bout he stopped fellow Russian Alexey Chirkov, 18-2, for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council title. In his eleventh fight he knocked out another fellow Russian Aslanbek Kodzoev, 20-2-1. In his next and twelfth bout he defeated Serbian Geard Ajetovic, 16-2-1.
In Pirog’s next bout he stopped Kuvanych Toygonbayev, 29-4, of UZB improving to 13-0. In his next fight for the vacant WBC International title he ended the career of Ghana’s Kofi Jantuah, 32-3-1, in his first bout out of Russia in Saarland, Germany. This was followed with his first American opponent stopping Philly’s Eric “Murder” Mitchell, 22-6-1. Next he stopped and took the WBC Baltic title from Estonia’s Sergei Melis, 15-1.
In what would be Pirog’s only US appearance is when he stopped Jacobs in Las Vegas. In his first defense of his WBO title he defeated Javier Francisco Maciel, 18-1, of Argentina. In his final bout he defeated the former interim WBA champion Nobuhiro Ishida, 24-7-2. Ishida in his next bout was stopped by Golovkin being the only one to stop Ishida in his now 40 bouts.
Golovkin and Pirog were to fight August 25th 2012 on HBO. Pirog claims to have had a 200-30 amateur record. He gave up Chess at age 8 for something more physical which would start his boxing career. He has gone into training several times for a proposed comeback but could never get to the level he was when he stopped fighting.
The second Champion was Cuban Yoan Pablo “Iron Man” Hernandez, 29-1 (14), held the interim WBA Cruiserweight title before winning the IBF Cruiserweight title. In September 2005 he lived in Germany where he started his career. In the pro’s he was trained by Ulli Wegner.
In Cuba Hernandez fought from 2001 to 2005 and had quite a career. In 2001 he was a Cuban Jr. Champ. In 2002 he won the World Jr. Champion in Cuba. He lost that year to Cuban heavyweight Odlanier Solis. In 2003 he fought as a light heavyweight in the Pan Am Games going 2-1. He was in the 2004 Olympics getting a bye and losing in the second round. He then defected to Germany. In 2005 he was the Cuban National heavyweight champion. He had knee surgery for a rupture of the Meniscus of the right knee putting his professional career on hold.
Turning pro Hernandez won his first 10 fights knocking out Thomas Hansvoll, 25-3-2, of Norway, who resided in Denmark in the tenth fight. In his fourteenth fight Hernandez won the WBC Latino title knocking out Algerian Mohamed Azzaoui, 22-1-2, of France. In his fifteenth fight he lost for the first and only time in his career to former WBC Cruiserweight champion Wayne “Big Turk” Braithwaite, 22-3, of Guyana and living in the US.
In May of 2009 Hernandez defeated Aaron Williams, 19-1-1, of the US. In his next bout in October of 2009 he defeated Serb Enad Licina, 17-1, residing in Germany for the IBF Inter-Continental title. In February of 2011 he won the interim WBA title knocking out fellow southpaw Steve “Centurian” Herelius, 21-1-1, of France.
In October of 2011 Hernandez possibly had his toughest fight for the IBF title held by Steve “USS” Cunningham, 24-2, of the US. Both were promoted by Sauerland of Germany. Hernandez wasn’t ranked in the IBF due to holding the interim WBA title so why was this fight made by their same promoter? In the first round Hernandez missed with a right hand but followed with a left dropping Cunningham who upon getting up rolled back on his side but beat the count of referee Mickey Van. For some reason due to the referee it took about 10 seconds to resume the bout when the bell sounded.
In the second round and third rounds Cunningham became the aggressor in taking both rounds. With about 30 seconds to go in the round a clash of heads caused Hernandez to suffer a cut. The referee never stopped the action to inspect the cut. In the fifth round Hernandez hit Cunningham behind the head. By the time the referee got to the fighters Hernandez hit Cunningham behind the head again without a warning from the referee. The corner of Hernandez took the full minute then requested the ring physician to check the cut. Hernandez stood up looking to resume the action when the referee comes over to him and stops the fight telling both the decision will go to the scorecards.
When the scorecards were announced the first judge had Cunningham up 57-56. The other two judges had it 58-55 and 59-54 for Hernandez. This writer had Cunningham ahead 58-55 only losing the first round. Cunningham walked around the ring with his hands in the air with his thumbs pointing down. Hernandez was later informed he would have to fight Troy Ross with the winner meeting Cunningham. Hernandez’s camp insisted on a rematch with Cunningham some 4 months later with the winner to fight Ross.
The rematch was entirely different. Hernandez had Cunningham down twice in the fourth round and coasted to a decision win. After this fight he defended against Ross winning by decision. It was 14 months later before he fought again in 2013 when he knocked out Alexander Alekseev, 24-2, of UZB, residing in Germany in the tenth round. In August of 2014 he won a split decision over Firat Aslan, 34-7-2, of Germany. The fans were not happy with the decision. Both fighters complimented each other afterwards.
In late 2015 Hernandez was to have surgery for his knee and for loose cartilage in his elbow. He was to fight Ola Afolabi in April of 2015 but had to cancel due to his injury. He’s talked about a comeback but it’s never developed
The third world champion is Harry “The Terminator” Simon, 29-0 (21), of Walvis Bay, Nambia. He claimed to be 271-2 in the amateurs. One loss was in the 1992 Olympics. He was trained by Brian Mitchell and managed by Ellison Hijarunguru.
On November 21, 2002, in trying to pass two cars Simon hit a car head on killing a couple and their baby. Simon had two broken legs and a broken arm. In March of 2007 he returned after serving two years in prison.
Simon turned pro in 1994 in South Africa and after winning his first five fights stopped Enuel Marshile, 11-1. In 1995 he defeated Danny Chavez, 25-4-1. In 1998 he won a majority decision over Ronald “Winky” Wright, 38-1, for the WBO Super welterweight title. In 1999 to 2001 he fought out of the UK making a pair of defenses. In his third defense he traveled to Canada winning a majority decision over Rodney Jones, 24-2. In February 2001 he defeated Wayne Alexander, 15-0, who took the fight on 24 hour notice replacing Robert Allen.
In July Simon moved up to middleweight beating Hacine Cherifi, 32-5-1, of France in Puerto Rico, winning the interim WBO title. In April of 2002 he defeated Sweden’s Arman Krajnc, 26-0, in Denmark. He would return in March of 2007 in Nambia as a light heavyweight winning over Stephen Nzuemba, 7-0, but didn’t fight again for a year winning two fights and appearing at 200 pounds in June of 2012 stopping Ruben Groenewald, 23-9, some 18 months later. He returned to light heavyweight a year later winning a pair of fights with the last one a 12 round decision over Serbian Geard Ajetovic, 23-8-1, for the vacant IBF International light heavyweight title.
Simon would not fight again after September of 2013 a month before his 39th birthday. He had never been the same after coming back in 2007 after being off for five years but still never lost a fight.
The fourth champion is Edwin “Dinamita” Valero, 27-0 (27), of Merida, VZ, who was found dead after hanging himself in a prison cell on April 19th of 2009. He admitted killing his wife the day before. In March of 2010 he had cracked his wives ribs and punctured her lung. Upon visiting her at the hospital he made a commotion and was arrested.
Valero’s amateur record was 86-6 (45). On Feb 5th 2001 he had a motor cycle accident and fractured his skull. This could be the reason he eventually went bad. He would hold the WBA Super featherweight title defending it four times. He won the WBC Lightweight title and defended it twice. Both Golden Boy and Top Rank promoted him.
Valero turned professional on July 9th 2002 and won his first 18 fights all in the first round. In his 18th fight he stopped Whyber Garcia, 17-3, of Panama in an elimination fight for the WBA Super featherweight title. He also won the WBA Fedelatin title in February 2006.
Valero knowing he wouldn’t get the title fight for six months he took another fight one month later in Japan stopping Mexican Genaro Trazancos, 21-7, in the second round. In August of 2006 he won the WBA Super featherweight title stopping Panama’s Vicente Mosquera, 24-1-1, in the 11th round. He had Mosquera down twice in the first round and was down himself in the third round.
Valero made three defenses in 2007 with the first two in Japan and the third in Mexico. In April of 2009 he won the WBC Lightweight title stopping Colombian Antonio Pitalua, 47-3, out of Mexico knocking him down three times in the second round in Austin, TX. It was his only title bout in the US. In December of 2009 he made his first defense winning over Hector Velazquez who didn’t come out for the seventh round. In February of 2010 he had his last fight stopping Mexican Antonio De Marco, 23-1-1, who didn’t come out for the tenth round. In the second round an accidental elbow from De Marco opened up a large gash on Valero’s hair line which seemed to make him fight even harder with blood covering the right side of his face.
Plans for Valero meeting Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquaio were in the making later in the year. In January of 2004 Golden Boy took him to New York where a small blood clot was showing in his brain. He was suspended and would be off for 17 months.
This was one “wild man” who was in 8 world title bouts. He fought in VZ 12 times, Japan 5 times, US 4 times, Mexico and Panama twice each and Argentina and France once each. He was one of the few champions to end his career undefeated.