How Relevant is Manny Pacquiao Now?
By: Charles Jay
After Manny Pacquiao’s fight this past weekend, ESPN commentator Mark Kriegel declared that with his victory, he had “changed the configuration of boxing again.”
My first thought was that I didn’t know if I would characterize it quite like that, but there is no doubt that he is very much alive to do what he’s done so well throughout the last decade or so of his career, which is to make money, both for himself and his opponents.
Whether he is a real player in the battle for supremacy in his weight division is an entirely different question to be addressed.
Time and again, the ESPN announcers asserted that everybody wants to fight Pacquiao. Well, sure they do, because (a) He is a viable pay-per-view entity in a sport that doesn’t have many of them, and (b) The risk-vs.-reward quotient might be very much in their favor.
In other words, they can pick up a big win, and a lucrative one, in a fight they probably should not lose.
Pacquiao improved his record to 60-7-2 with his 39th early win in a 7th-round knockout of Lucas Matthysse, who was the WBA “regular” champion at 147 pounds. How significant was this victory? Well, that’s a good question, because Matthysse came in as the kind of opponent who seemed designed to make Pacquiao look good. He was slow, plodding, not all that skilled, not good enough defensively, no match for Pacquiao’s speed, and thus in no position to counterpunch.
He also didn’t exactly come to wage war. His approach appeared to be geared toward loading up for one power punch – which he is capable of delivering – but was seemingly frustrated that it didn’t happen. No, we can’t get into a fighter’s head, and we can’t gauge how hard certain punches hurt, but he looked as if he was looking for a way out after being hit with a half-hook, half-jab in the fifth round (almost immediately after showing more resistance than he had previously) and then stayed on one knee when one would have thought he could get up, following a Pacquiao uppercut in the seventh.
I thought Teddy Atlas was on the mark when he said that Pacquiao got the job done, and did what he had to do, but did not have a whole lot in front of him (RIGHT in front of him, we might add, for whole fight). You can’t really fault him for any of this, and he did show a lot of energy.
And don’t underestimate the moral boost he may have gotten by scoring his first win inside the distance since the Miguel Cotto fight in 2009.
So the natural question is “Who’s next?”
Pacquiao was asked that in the ring after the fight. He couldn’t just say “I’ll have to talk to my promoter,” because he is, for all intents and purposes, his own promoter now. So he didn’t get specific.
I think the truth is, he doesn’t really know.
There are three champions of note in the welterweight division:
* WBO – Terence Crawford 33-0, 24 KO’s
* IBF – Errol Spence 24-0, 21 KO’s
* WBA – Keith Thurman 28-0, 22 KO’s
Crawford would seem the most likely opponent of those three, because of the connection that still exists between Pacquiao and Top Rank’s Bob Arum. And for that reason, there is also the possibility of Vasyl Lomachenko, who is currently the WBA’s lightweight champ. For a fight like that to happen, there would have to be a meeting somewhere in the middle as far as weight is concerned.
Some might argue this, but Pacquiao isn’t likely to advance his career against any of those three welterweight champs. There is some intrigue against Loma, since there is a built-in handicap, as the Ukranian began his career as a featherweight and would be making quite a leap. But at the same time, he is the kind of whirlwind that Pacquaio may have been once, but isn’t now. The punches he landed against Matthyssee aren’t nearly as likely to find their target against any of these guys.
There is that other possibility, which is a rematch with Jeff Horn, who beat him controversially in Brisbane a year ago. There still has to be something sticking in Pacquiao’s craw about that fight, enough so that one of the reasons he cut himself loose from Freddie Roach – allegedly – is that Roach did not complain about Horn’s rough tactics during the fight, instead waiting until after the bout to do so (where it didn’t do a whole lot of good), then adding some other commentary that was largely unwanted.
Horn lost rather decisively to Crawford, but he has credentials for this purpose because of the win over Pacquiao. And almost as soon as Pac-Man got out of the ring, Horn was calling him out. There was a rematch clause in the contract, which Pacquiao did not exercise immediately because of his duties as a senator in the Philippines. And Horn’s promoter, Dean Lonergan, thinks that Pacquiao’s performance this past weekend makes his guy’s win look all that much better.
Maybe so, but according to reports, including one coming out of the Los Angeles Times, Pacquiao might try to give it a go in the United States again to fight one of Arum’s guys. He’s got problems with the IRS, which will take some of his money, so I’ll believe it when I see it.
And besides, the big edge for Manny in any negotiations is that HE is the pay-per-view draw, and thus the gateway to big money. None of these five prospective opponents we’ve mentioned can say that they have carried a pay-per-view event. That means Pacquiao has the ability to dictate deal points like where the fight would be held, and Arum admitted as much. And his “independence” as a promoter unto himself might make his word final.
We know that Horn, at this moment, is in the midst of talks with Anthony Mundine, the ex-rugby player who has held a WBA super middleweight title and a WBC and WBA super welterweight title. This fight would presumably be at 154 pounds, and Horn would be expected to come out the winner. He’ll also make upwards of $4 million, because these guys can fill a stadium.
So he’s got the luxury of being able to grab a big payday even after a pretty one-sided loss, something a lot of guys don’t have. But even if that fight happens, I wouldn’t disqualify a subsequent fight with Pacquiao, in or out of Australia. Remember, none of the fighters who are bigger threats to Pac-Man are enough of a draw that they would necessarily steer him away from a fight with Horn, from a dollars-and-cents perspective. While Pacquiao-Horn II may not be of ultimate importance on the world stage, it will be extremely important to Manny’s constituency (pardon the pun), which would be pretty sizable.
And in every fighter’s mind, there is that thought of “getting the win back” when they think it was unfairly snatched from them.
This decision is very much in Pacquiao’s hands. He IS the promoter, isn’t he?
And you can bet those aforementioned world-beaters will be keenly interested in what he decides.
Considering how they’re are all thought to be emerging superstars, maybe Manny Pacquiao IS the most relevant guy out there – at least for the time being.
Pacquiao vs. Matthysse Fight Quotes
Future Hall of Famer and Filipino superstar Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (60-7-2, 38 KOs) scored a seventh-round knockout victory against Argentine knockout artist Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs) to capture the WBA Welterweight World Title at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Pacquiao scored a knockdown in round three with a left uppercut, and then forced Matthysse to take a knee in the fifth round with a shot to the temple. Pacquiao dropped Matthysse with another left uppercut in the seventh round, forcing referee Kenny Bayless to end matters at 2:43 of the aforementioned round.
“I was surprised because Matthysse is a very tough opponent and I knocked him down,” said Manny Pacquiao. “So that’s a bonus from being focused and patient in the fight and working hard in training camp. We [my team] did a good job in training. We controlled ourselves during training. It was a heavy training. Thanks to all my team for working hard for this fight.
“That’s another story and another discussion. Right now I’m happy to go back to my country in the Philippines and to celebrate my victory and of course with my fellow countrymen, doing my job as a public servant. We’re planning for that [returning this year]. But we haven’t decided yet. Right now my focus is to go back to my country and relax.”
“Fighting Manny Pacquiao [is the most difficult part about fighting Pacquiao],” said Lucas Matthysse. “He’s a great fighter. He’s a great champion. You win some, and you lose some. Today was my turn to lose, but I lost to a great fighter and a great legend in Manny Pacquiao. First I would like to rest and go back home. The hard work has been done. The fight has taken place. I lost, but I walk away with my head raised. I’m sorry to Argentina, but I’m fine. Thank you for all the love and support, and we’ll be seeing all my family and friends soon.”
Does Manny Pacquiao Have One Last Fight in Him?
By: Bryant Romero
Does the Great Manny Pacquiao have one last great fight in him? Promoter Bob Arum posed that question to fans on his twitter account and the boxing world will find out this Saturday in an unusual site for a Manny Pacquiao fight. Kuala Lumpur at the Axiata Arena in Malaysia is the site for Pacquiao’s next fight when he takes on dangerous puncher and current World Champion Lucas Martin Mathysse (39-4, 36 KOs) in what should be a thrilling fight between two fighters who’s best days may be behind them. Pacquaio (59-7-2, 38 KOs) is seeking his 60th victory in what has been a legendary but now declining career where he’s no longer the superstar he once was, but is out to prove that he was the true winner in his controversial loss last July to Jeff Horn and perhaps there is still a couple of great nights left in his incredible career.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
Not only is the site of the fight different compared to many other Pacquiao fight weeks, but the Filipino icon is the lead promoter of the event. Bob Arum and Top Rank are simply just distributing the fight in the United States and it will be shown on the ESPN + app, which has indicated that perhaps Pacquiao and Arum seem to be at odds with each other. Pacquaio continues to tell the boxing press that he’s no longer affiliated with Top Rank and is currently a free agent. Arum of course has downplayed the situation and maintains that his company still has a working relationship with Manny.
This bout of course was not without controversy as in the weeks leading up into the event there were concerns that the event would be cancelled altogether as Pacquiao and his team missed numerous deadlines for payments. It wasn’t until early this month that Matthysse and his team were assured the money will put in place for his purse for the fight and now the fight is a go with Manny only slight favorite to defeat La Maquina.
Many believe Pacquiao defeated Jeff Horn last summer, but just 4 months shy from his 40th birthday, a long layoff, and facing a big puncher. It could be anyone’s guess on what Pacquaio truly has left for the 69th bout of his career.
Pacquiao fired his longtime trainer Freddie Roach and perhaps it was the right move now that Roach is no longer one of top trainers in the game. Buboy Fernandez his long time friend is now is head trainer and Buboy feels we will see a hungrier more dangerous Pacquiao, which could spell trouble for Matthysse.
Obviously, the Filipino legend is nowhere near the fighter he was 8 years ago, but Manny is still a capable fighter with loads of experience, speed, footwork, and tremendous skills. Expect an impressive performance from Manny as he will notch his 60th victory and perhaps even end his knockout drought in a fun fight with Matthysse in Malaysia.
Jamal “Shango” James: The African God of Thunder…from the Tundra
By: Andrew Johnson
Jamal “Shango” James (22-1, 10 KOs) faces fellow welterweight Abel Ramos (18-2-2, 13 KOs) this Friday night in PBC on FS1’s main event (FS1 9:00 EST) at the historic Armory in downtown Minneapolis.
James is the WBA’s #4 welterweight contender and hopes to use the platform offered by the nationally televised event to legitimize his place among the top fighters at 147 lbs. Proud of his Minnesota roots, James wants to continue the recent momentum in Minnesota boxing that began with Caleb Truax upset of James DeGale last December.
Photo Credit: Mn Fight News
James, whose nickname means “African God of Thunder”, climbed up the rankings as a slick, defensive, counter-puncher with an impressive jab. At 6’2”, he reminds some fans of an early 1980s Thomas Hearns, but Shango employs a very different boxing strategy than the Motor City Cobra.
“The best thing I do in the ring is not get hit.” James told the media during Wednesday’s press conference. “I try to bring a little bit of the art back (to boxing). I am not a super big slugger, but I can still hurt you.”
He hurt Diego Chaves in his last fight and knocked out the rugged, Argentine veteran. James kept his distance in the fight’s early minutes with his long, weaponized jab, but brought the thunder late in the third round with a left hook to the body that put Chaves on the canvas and ended the fight.
Friday’s fight will be the first-time James has fought in Minnesota in over three years. He began boxing at the age of five when his mother brought him to Circle of Discipline gym in South Minneapolis. The trainers at the gym teach footwork and crisp punching to aspiring boxers, but also focus on faith and building character in youth whose backs are against the wall. After nearly 25 years of training at the gym, James embodies the holistic approach to the fight game preached by the Circle of Discipline.
“I am at a place in my life where I can give life back to others. I was able to bring a big event like this to Minnesota and we gave tickets to a ton of kids from low-income homes who may not have been able to afford it.” James told the Boxing Insider after the press conference. “We have given 100 tickets to high schools around the city and more to other organizations. I pray and hope that the more success I have, the more I am able to help my organization and community.”
If Jamal James wants a title shot in the next year, he needs to shine against Ramos on Friday night. Simply avoiding Abel Ramos’ punches and winning an uninspired decision may not be enough to make noise in a division full of marquee names and big money fights.
Ramos moved up to 147 lbs. for his last fight and won via TKO. He said that fighting at a heavier weight will allow him to bring new strength and endurance to the ring on Friday and is confident that he will defeat James in his homecoming and the return of boxing to the Armory.
There will be snow on the streets of Minneapolis, but the atmosphere inside the Armory should be electric as the hometown crowd receives Jamal “Shango” James and welcomes boxing back to a building that hosted legends like Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis decades ago.
What’s Next for Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker
By: Oliver McManus
When the dust settled in Cardiff on Saturday night, the 80,000 fans made their way home and the blood on the canvas was wiped clean, there were two people left in their dressing rooms to ponder over the contrasting future career trajectories they were left with.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing/Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker went toe-to-toe at the Principality Stadium for the unified WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles of the world in a bruising encounter that saw the British fighting pride move to 21 and 0, one step closer to the title of undisputed heavyweight champion.
Joseph Parker, who fell short in the fight , will have several options following his career high pay day and New Zealand’s first ever heavyweight champion has already seen his stock rise past that of, national legend, David Tua.
For Parker and his promoter David Higgins it was always a brave move to take on Anthony Joshua especially after launching such a strong social media campaign pre-agreement to “bait” AJ and Eddie Hearn into taking the fight. The talk was strong, the game plan was calculated but ultimately not enough.
Truth be told Parker hasn’t particularly impressed in any of his world-title fights; he edged out Andy Ruiz to claim the vacant WBO title in a fight that saw neither styles click; against late-replacement Razvan Cojanu he looked lacklustre; and against mandatory challenger Hughie Fury he looked slow and less than 100%.
Despite this Parker has proven before that he has the talent demanded from world level boxing, in particular with his clash with Carlos Takam, and in the showdown at the Principality on the 31st he certainly enhanced his credentials as a technically supreme boxer – catching AJ with some fast, flashy shots between the 5th and 7th round of the fight, saw his reputation only heighten.
There was no shame in this defeat for the Kiwi legend but what does the future have in store?
Well, unfortunately for Duco Promotions, the pathway is distinctly less clear than if their charge had won but here are three potential options;
Joseph Parker won’t be wanting to restart his journey back to the top of heavyweight boxing by fighting some unknown Hungarian plumber so where better to start with “gate-keeper” Dereck Chisora?
Now I use the term gate-keeper loosely because Chisora doesn’t label himself as such but, nonetheless, Chisora remains in the top 20 worldwide and is guaranteed to come to the ring all guns blazing – especially for a fight such as this would be whereby the winner is almost guaranteed another world title shot.
‘Del Boy’, with 28 wins and 8 losses, would also be a good opponent for Parker to be able to demonstrate his technical ability and enable the former Commonwealth champion to work the body of Chisora, up nice and close, something he wasn’t able to do against Anthony Joshua.
With Eddie Hearn saying he’d like to see Joseph Parker back on British shores and Dereck Chisora promoted by the Matchroom Boxing banner, this fight is certainly more than speculation and would be an incredible encounter.
Big Baby Miller would be a far bigger risk to take for the former WBO Champion with the hotly rated American bringing nearly 300lbs of brutality into the ring; HBO’s heavyweight hopeful is ranked 3rd with all of the WBA, IBF and WBO so the fight would make sense, especially if it were to serve as an eliminator of sorts.
Miller has been a regular feature of Eddie Hearn’s ventures over into America and is next in action on the 28th April against, former Deontay Wilder opponent, Johann Duhaupas in Brooklyn. Should he come through that encounter unscathed then you sense the uber-confident American will want to take on Joseph Parker to really stamp his mark on the world scene.
Why would Parker want to take on the 20-0, 18 KO, behemoth of a fighter? Two-fold, really;
Firstly it’s an easy profile-raiser for him over in the U.S.A, having already made his name in the UK and, naturally, his home-countries of New Zealand and Samoa, the next big boxing demographic to crack is America and by beating Miller there can be no clearer attention-raiser;
And secondly, whilst Miller is a more risky opponent due to his sheer size and power, he also blows hot and cold within his fights and has never, particularly, came through entirely convincing – his size has it’s downfalls as well; he’s not particularly fast!
Let’s wait and see on this one but, heck, it would be a dust-up.
This is certainly less realistic than the two previous names but in Junior Fa there is far more history and romance to the match-up, going all the way back to the amateur days when the two New Zealand fighters faced-off on four occasions.
With two wins apiece the crux of the needle came in their last fight when Fa and Parker took place in a final eliminator to decide who would be the Oceanic representative for the London 2012 Olympic Games – Fa won in a tight grudge match by 11-8 but since they turned professional the anticipation has been growing for what, must surely be, an inevitably tasty bout.
Despite the fact Fa is currently, attempting, to make his name in America with Bob Arum and Top Rank, he’s looked incredibly unimpressive in his last two fights Stateside and would, undoubtedly, jump at the chance to cash-in back on home soil should the offer come from Joseph Parker’s team….
…. WATCH THIS SPACE!
For Anthony Joshua the path is far clearer and he has the, odd, pleasure of being at the mercy of the governing bodies which makes his job – and that of Eddie Hearn – a lot easier. Nonetheless here are his three most likely opponents;
SURPRISE! Can you even mention the two remaining heavyweight world champions independently anymore? The hype surrounding this potential fight was so extreme that Wilder seemed to be mentioned more than Parker in the build-up to their unification clash and Wilder is now the only man in the way of Joshua’s ROAD TO UNDISPUTED.
The Bronze Bomber has drawn scorn for saying he “wants a body” on his record but for all the controversy that the WBC Champ courts, there is no denying the incredible power possessed in the hands of the Alabama-fighter.
Having toppled Luis Ortiz in his last fight, despite very tight scorecards, it was Wilder’s windmill-esque power that saw his Cuban succumb in the 10th round – many, beforehand, were suggesting this was a 50-50 fight and, so it proved, with Wilder coming through his toughest test do date.
For all the talking done by the forty fight veteran, Wilder refused to show up in Cardiff for the AJ-Parker mega-fight and has turned down career high money to face Dillian Whyte in the interlude between a potential unification with Joshua; the BIGGEST potential fight but, let’s be honest, is it likely?
Having brutally knocked out, past-it contender, David Price in the 5th round on the undercard in Wales last week, Povetkin managed to retain his WBO and WBA Continental titles, as well as their respective, number one rankings and is likely to be called as the WBA mandatory any time soon.
The Russian has fallen foul of anti-doping rules in the past but since his return to the ring he has continued to highlight what made him, once, the most feared heavyweight in the world. To boot, and if I can say this, it’s noticeable how less “drugged-up” he looks, for want of a better phrase, so whilst suspicion will always loom there is a renewed belief that Povetkin is clean, again.
Fighting on the undercard of Anthony Joshua was a deliberate move by Eddie Hearn to introduce the 38-year-old to the British public ahead of what would be, inevitably, Povetkin’s final tilt at such prestigious titles – indeed it would be the biggest money of his career.
Povetkin packs a nifty punch and as was displayed in full glory against Price, he is capable of turning up the heat AT ANY MOMENT. Weakness were also displayed so whilst this might be AJ’s most exciting fight, you can be sure he’d be feeling mightily confident against the Russian Vityaz.
Pulev and, his promoters, the Sauerland Brothers will have been banging the door down of the Matchroom offices since the Bulgarian withdrew from his scheduled face-off with AJ last year – a fight that was meant to happen on the 28th October AT the Principality Stadium.
The 36 year old would continue in the same vein as Joseph Parker in seeking to test Joshua’s technical capabilities with the chin of Pulev being one that, should, withstand the pressure of AJ and Joshua may want to face Pulev in order to prove he’s not just an one-trick pony.
Having impressed against Dereck Chisora back in May 2016 to claim the European title, he’s since faced Samuel Peter and Kevin Johnson but, frankly, not made any earth-shattering statements against either man.
His rankings remain strong and The Cobra finds himself 5th the WBC, 4th with the WBA and 2nd with the IBF so there’s no questioning his credentials – unlike some who find themselves within the top 15.
Certainly all the talk before his pull-out last year was that Pulev could have been the toughest technical test of Joshua’s ability with his amateur pedigree bleeding into his professional game plan and, to all intent and purposes, replicating his success.
An eliminator between Breazeale and Pulev for a shot at the WBC Heavyweight title has been called so it looks as though his chance at taking on the pride of Britain is all but gone.
You can hope though, can’t you?
For both fighters involved in Saturday’s showdown in Cardiff, there can be no looking back on what could have been different, on what might have been, eyes must firmly be on the future because Joshua and Parker proved themselves as worthy world champions and whilst it was AJ who emerged victorious and with his undefeated record intact, Parker gained more credit over those 36 minutes than he did across all three of his previous world title fights.
For Anthony Joshua, though, the Road to Undisputed just got one step closer…
Manny Pacquiao and Bob Arum Continue to be at Odds Over Prospective Opponents
By: Bryant Romero
Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring sometime this year has been on been ongoing saga on whether the proposed bout with Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) will actually pull through for sometime this summer. Reports of strain relations between Pacquiao and Arum should come to no surprise as there were signs prior to Pacquaio’s fight with Jeff Horn in Australia. The Pacquiao camp caused a stir in recent weeks as they announced to boxing press that Pacquiao is currently a free agent and no longer contractually obligated to Top Rank.
“I reviewed the contract and I found out that Bob Arum has no more say even in the rematch, should there be any between Manny Pacquiao and Australian boxer Jeff Horn,” said Pacquiao’s lawyer Eldibrando Viernesto to the Philippine press.
Furthermore, the camp also announced a date that has since been rescheduled at a site in Malaysia with the hopes of sealing a deal with Matthysse through his promoter Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Pacquiao was reportedly insulted with the initial offer from Top Rank to perhaps be on a undercard to Horn-Crawford to fight Mike Alvarado. Manny rejected the offer and is now reportedly negotiating a fight through his own without the involvement of Top Rank.
Pacquiao and Arum have been down this road before and it’s obvious that Manny had very little interest in fighting Jeff Horn last summer in Brisbane as he tried to set up a fight with Amir Khan in the UAE instead. The fight fell through however, and Pacquaio was left to fight Horn as Arum didn’t seem to offer any other opponents.
There are doubts that the Pacquiao vs Matthysse fight will pull through to a now rescheduled date of July 8. Aquiles Zonio who is Pacquiao’s media relations officer has made allegations that promoter Bob Arum has in the past threatened to sue some of the financial backers for which resulted in the fights being scrapped. Accoring to Zonio, Arum is trying to sabotage the Pacquiao vs Matthysse fight in Malaysia by threatening a lawsuit to the Malaysian financial backers.
It’s going to be an interesting next couple of weeks on finding out whether Pacquiao is truly a free agent and whether Bob Arum can once again convince Manny to get back on board and fight an opponent of his choosing instead.
Will Roy Jones, Jr. Keep to His Word Thursday in His Last Fight?
By: Ken Hissner
How many boxers have “retired” only to unretired again? Will Roy Jones, Jr. be one of them? He boxes Thursday in his hometown of Pensacola, FL, against Scott Sigmon, 30-11-1 (16), from Lynchburg, VA.
Jones has been middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champion. This fight he will fight at cruiserweight. He is also a promoter of fights with Square One Promotions.
Jones won his first 34 fights before knocking down Montell Griffin and hitting him while down losing on DQ. In his next fight he knocked out Griffin on the first round.
Like too many boxers he gave Bernard Hopkins a rematch and got beat. Hopkins gave him a good fight in their first match. Hopkins is also older than Roy by about a year.
Jones started boxing after a controversial loss in the 2008 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He won his first 4 fights, 1 by KO and 3 by 5-0 decisions. He lost in the final to a South Korean 3-2. The decision was so bad he still won the Val Barker Award for the most outstanding boxer at the Olympics.
He turned professional the following year in his hometown of Pensacola where he plans to box and retire Thursday. Let’s hope he is a man of his word. His overall record until this match is 65-9 (47) and stopped 5 times. This will be his 75th fight and let’s hope his last. As a ringside commentator he is fine. Stay there Roy!
Jones has given many a good fighter their first loss such as James Toney 44-0-2, Glenn Thomas 24-0, Bryant Brannon 16-0, Montell Griffin 27-0, Eric Harding 19-0-1, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, 27-0, Glen Kelly 28-0-1, Anthony Hanshaw, 21-0-1, Pawel Glazewski 17-0 and Vyron Phillips 6-0 as an amateur making his debut.
Jones first title win was for the WBC Continental Americas Super Middleweight title in 1992 stopping Percy Harris, 15-3, at the Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City, NJ. In 1993 he won the vacant IBF Middleweight title defeating Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 22-1, at RFK Stadium, in Washington, DC. He defended it 7 times. In 1996 he won the interim light heavyweight title defeating Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum, 49-3-1, at the Ice Palace, in Tampa, FL. After losing to Griffin he came back in his next fight winning the WBC World Light Heavyweight title from Griffin, then 27-0, at the Foxwoods Resorts, in Mashantucket, CT.
In the next fight Jones knocked out former IBF & WBA Light Heavyweight champion Virgil Hill, 43-2, at the Coast Coliseum, in Biloxi, MS, in 1998. He defended it at that weight 11 times. Prior to the 11th time he won the WBA Heavyweight title defeating John Ruiz, 38-4-1, at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, NV, in 2003.
After Jones 12th defense over Antonio Tarver, 21-2, the roof fell in for him in back to back fights being knocked out by Glen Johnson, 40-9-2 and in a rematch with Tarver along with a decision to Tarver.
Jones would go onto win 3 fights in a row before Joe Calzaghe, 45-0, made his second straight US fight defeating Jones. It would be Calzaghe’s final fight of his career due to bad hands.
Two wins later would become 3 straight defeats starting with Danny Green in 1 round. Then losing a rematch with Hopkins and making a trip to Russia being knocked out by Denis Lebedev.
Jones would return to the US and in 2011win the UBO Inter Continental Cruiserweight title defeating Max Alexander, 14-5-2, at the Civic Center in Atlanta, GA.
In 2013 Jones would win the vacant World Boxing Union Cruiserweight title (German Version) in Russia, which is the same title he is fighting Sigmon for Thursday. He defended it 3 times after defeating Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf, 17-3-1. Jones would fight 4 times in Russia going 2-2 and becoming a dual citizen there.
In 2015 on his final bout in Russia he was knocked out by former WBO Cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli, 40-7, whose traine was Calzaghe’s father. He would go onto win his next 3 fights and that brings us to Sigmon. This writer attended his last fight in Wilmington, DE, defeating the King of Bare Knuckle Boxing Bobby Gunn before a packed Chase Center for the vacant World Boxing Foundation World Cruiserweight title in 2017.
But like too many boxers “never say never” if this will be the last farewell fight for Roy Jones, Jr.
Could The Canelo-GGG Winner Actually Face Cotto In December?
By: Sean Crose
There’s little doubt that Miguel Cotto has had a Hall of Fame worthy career. Now that his life inside the ring is winding down, though, Cotto wants to go out with a bang. For the former lineal middleweight champ has made it clear he wants the winner of this Saturday’s Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin middleweight superfight. “I will have the last fight of my career in December,” ESPN quotes Cotto as saying, “and fighting the winner would be a good way to go out.”
This may strike some as a bit strange, since Cotto had previously made it clear that he never saw himself as a real middleweight – even when he was middleweight champion of the world.
Indeed, Canelo fought Cotto at a catchweight when they met in 2015 (in a fight Cotto lost by decision). Now that Canelo is fighting as a full middleweight this Saturday, however, it’s doubtful he’ll be willing to drop weight again for Cotto. What’s more, Cotto never seemed too keen on facing Golovkin when he wore the middleweight crown. Despite paying lip service to the possibility, team Cotto never did agree to face the feared Kazakh in the ring.
With that in mind, there’s little doubt that a fight featuring the 41-5 Cotto against either Canelo or Golovkin would be a notable event. Cotto’s fight with Canelo was certainly competitive and past glory alone would draw eyeballs to a bout with the fighter known as GGG. Still, at thirty-six years of age, Cotto is widely viewed as a fighter on the downslide.
Golovkin, at thirty-five, may be just a year younger, but the general consensus, should a fight between the two be made, would surely be that Golovkin hasn’t aged as Cotto has (provided, of course, that Golovkin looks sharp against Canelo this weekend).
For fans, the more appealing of the two options for Cotto might be Golovkin. A second Canelo fight would bring with it a sense of been there/done that, especially when one considers that the first fight, although entertaining, was far from a classic. Yet Golovkin, with his frightening knockout power, would make for an intriguing – or frightening – matchup. Even after a very sharp performance last month against the heroic Yoshihiro Kamegai, Cotto would no doubt enter the ring a heavy underdog. Would Cotto truly be willing to face Golovkin, however, or is he simply keeping his name in the media during fight week?
Furthermore, would a December fight with either man be a real possibility when one considers such things as recuperation and contract clauses?
Time may well provide the answers.
The Real Fight of 2016
by B.A. Cass
The fight between Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido, which seemed to be just about everyone’s pick for 2016 fight of the year, was certainly a good fight. But thirty seconds into Round One and the two men were already in their first clinch, something that turned into a bizarre twirl. A minute later, Vargas was walking Salido back as if they were partners in an intermediate ballroom dance class. Yes, there were moments of intense onslaught by both men, and yes, the majority of the fight was brutal and entertaining. However, it was nowhere near as thrilling as the best fights of the past.
Over the week I watched nineteen fights, both female and male, from 2016. I had originally intended to watch twenty-four, but five of the female fights were not available online. (Click this link to get the full list of the fights I watched: http://bit.ly/2x65wKk.) I had two criteria for judging these matches. The first was that the opponents had to be well matched, meaning no early round knockouts or clear domination. The second was that that the fight had to be thrilling from beginning to end. This, unfortunately, disqualified Amanda Serrano, who KO’d Olivia Gerula in the first round of their fight. And while it was a pleasure watch the skilled Jelena Mrdjenovic, she was the more talented fighter in both her fights that I watched. On the male side, I was impressed by all of what I saw except by the Dillian Whyte vs. Dereck Chisora fight, which seemed to me just like two really big guys punching each other in slow-motion.
And while I was deeply impressed by the Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santo Cruz bout (I gave it runner up), one fight stood out from all the rest. And that’s Heather Hardy vs. Shelly Vincent, my pick for “2016 Fight of the Year.”
The public animosity between these two fighters has been well-documented. Vincent spent years trying to secure a fight with Hardy, going so far as to show up at Hardy’s fights to taunt and ridicule her. Their fans exchanged vicious words. Hardy’s mother may have even been involved in a physical altercation with Vincent at The Roseland Ballroom, though that has not been confirmed. In other words, this was the real deal, an epic fight three years in the making.
But put aside all that, and put aside the historic nature of the fight. (It was the first female boxing match televised in the US in over 20 years.) In fact, put aside everything and anything that didn’t take place in the ring that night at Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheater because it was, from beginning to end, a spectacular fight. There was no clinching, not a single moment when either fighter tried to save energy. Hardy and Vincent simply gave everything they had from the first bell to the last.
The New York based Hardy won by split-decision, which didn’t surprise Vincent, who had traveled from Providence to take the fight. “It being in New York, I knew from the gate that unless I knocked her out, I wasn’t going to get a W over there,” Vincent recently told me. “I had it six rounds to four. And two rounds she beat me. I admit that. She beat me those two rounds. But clearly I dominated. I kept moving forward.”
Devon Cormack, Hardy’s trainer, obviously doesn’t agree with Vincent’s analysis: “At no point did I feel Heather was losing the fight,” he told me over the phone. “She made the adjustments as the fight went on, more than Shelly did.” Still, Cormack acknowledges that it was close. “It wasn’t a perfect thing having a split decision, but I didn’t think it was that far removed, which is why I thought it made for an excellent fight.”
Vincent’s trainer, Pete Manfredo Sr., can’t figure out why there hasn’t been a rematch. All he knows is that it should have been done already. “It was the fight of the night, and it even had Errol Spence on the card that night. I thought Vincent/Hardy was a much better fight for the crowd, even the television crowd.”
Let’s be honest, though: if a rivalry like this occurred between two male boxers and their much-anticipated, widely-viewed fight ended in a close, split-decision win, the rematch would have already happened.
Still, Hardy remains hopeful for the future of women’s boxing. “If you put Holly Holm with someone like a Katie Taylor, or one with Cecilia Brækhus, that would be a huge money fight—maybe not in America but it would be a huge money fight because so much of the country follows MMA. Even when I had my first MMA fight, I got tens of thousands of new followers. I was on the MMA radio show with Ariel Hawani and like a hundred people had tweeted it out. And so the more public demand, the more popular it gets, the easier it will be.”
Let’s hope Hardy is right. Let’s hope that the gods of the boxing world come together and align the stars to make this rematch happen. In the meantime, you can see Shelly Vincent fight in person at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on September 15th. (Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/ShellyVincent). And, though her opponent has yet to be announced, Heather Hardy is set to return for her second Bellator fight on October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Mayweather-McGregor Post Fight Press Conference: “I wanted to Go Out With A Bang.”
By: Sean Crose
“I wanted to go out with a bang.”
So said Floyd Mayweather during the post fight press conference after besting Conor McGregor in the tenth round of their much ballyhooed boxing match. “Number forty nine wasn’t good enough,” the 50-0 fighter claimed. “Number forty-eight wasn’t good enough.” Here was a man who wanted to leave the ring in memorable fashion. “I told you I was going for the knockout” he said to the gathered media.
Photo Credit: USA Today
Mayweather was gracious regarding McGregor. “He was a hell of a fighter standing up,” he said, admitting the Irishman “kind of shocked me.” Mayweather still brought up McGregor’s dirty tactics throughout the bout, however. He also brought up McGregor’s notorious (no pun intended) big mouth. “Talking doesn’t win fights,” he said. “Fighting wins fights.” Mayweather went on to point out that he felt McGregor was wrong for complaining that referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight too soon. “The referee is thinking about your future,” he said.
One startling part of the press conference was when Mayweather admitted that he hadn’t trained as he previously had. “For the last month,” he claimed, “I didn’t do any sparring.” McGregor may be known for his confidence, but such a statement made it clear that Mayweather’s confidence is absolutely sublime. “I could have easily outboxed Conor McGregor,” he said matter of factly. “I felt I owed that (the stoppage) to the fans for the Pacquiao fight.”
It was clear Mayweather felt right at home in front of the media, but after a while, McGregor showed up and Mayweather graciously stepped away from the mic.
“To the podium,” he said. “I’d like to call up the notorious one, Conor McGregor.” The two men then hugged as McGregor stepped up to the podium with whiskey. Being gracious in his own right, McGregor gave credit to his conqueror. “I didn’t anticipate three game changes in the fight,” he admitted. “Much respect.” The gathered media subsequently applauded approvingly. “You’ve got to give your hat off to Floyd,” he said. “It was a bit of fun, right?” McGregor went on to ponder the differences between boxing and mixed martial arts, the sport he is most known for. “I don’t know what the fuck the difference was,” he said good naturedly, “but it’s different.”
Truth be told, McGregor seemed to be in a good place. He spoke of “dips” in his fights, where he runs out of gas, but he didn’t seem like a man who was broken internally. If anything, the guy is a student of life. “It was a great contest,” he claimed. “And it’s a lot of stuff I’ll take with me.” No doubt the man was telling the truth. “This was some buzz,” McGregor said in reference to Mayweather, “to come in and face this man.”
The two men embraced once more and posed for pictures, effectively ending the entire months long affair on a high note.
More Full Coverage: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor
What Happened To Adrien Broner?
By: Sean Crose
He seemed on top of the world once, not so long ago, a terrible representative or the sport who was on his way to stardom, nonetheless.
And now this.
After being dominated this past weekend in New York by Mikey Garcia, many are left asking what happened to Adrien Broner. This was the future celebrity, the Mayweather with a bad/worse attitude, the soon to be face of boxing. Now, though, it’s clear the man can’t beat an above average opponent. All that talk, all that hype, and for what? For three losses in a row to big names? For smack talk after defeat? For endless acts of stupidity outside the ring with little to show in the way of real merit inside of it? This isn’t what the public was led to expect.
Oh, the public was led to expect bad behavior when it came to Broner, of course. In fact, the public was expected to celebrate it. For Broner was supposed to be the big mouth who couldn’t be shut up, the man who appealed to people’s inner mean streaks, the guy who acted like many amoral types wished they could have, but were afraid to. Yet the public was also led to expect Broner to back it all up with big win after big win. Thing is, with the possible exception of Paulie Malignaggi, who some feel actually won their fight, Broner has no big wins to his name.
What he has is a record of having attained lots of belts without placing lots of big names under them. It’s now being said the man was a hype job from the word go. Perhaps that assertion is the correct one. Perhaps Broner was never as good as advertised. Perhaps he was simply never going to become as good as advertised, even if he took his profession seriously, which – until recently – he didn’t seem to on any sort of regular basis.
The question, of course, is where to from here for the Cincinnati native. Many, if not most, hope he will fade away. Don’t expect him do, though. Broner’s colorful image is still marketable, even on a smaller scale than it used to be. There’s still titles and lots of money available for the man in the future. Keep in mind that he’s fun to watch fight – and that people also like renegades (and Broner is most certainly that).
The truth is that Broner took a tough loss and if he’s not the total hype job some are saying he always was, he’s going to want to grow as a fighter – as in actually pick up new things. That might take a bit of learning, but he’s still a young man with a considerable amount of God given talent at his disposal. The story of Adrien Broner might still have some more chapters to go. He’s going to have to play is smart, though, if he hopes to eventually go out on top…if it’s even possible for him to go out on top at this point.
Five Post Fight Thoughts from Pacquiao vs. Horn
Five Post Fight Thoughts from Pacquiao vs. Horn
By: William Holmes
A legend in the sport of boxing lost to a man that nobody thought he would lose to on Saturday in Brisbane, Australia.
Manny Pacquiao is a sure fire first ballot hall of famer and is an eight division world champion. Since 2005 almost all of his fights were made available exclusively on Pay Per View. However, many were stunned to see Jeff Horn be named the victor and were left in disbelief. Many, including the announcers on ESPN, strongly felt that Manny was robbed and clearly won the fight.
Is this the end of Pacquiao’s career? What does this mean going forward?
Here are five post fight thoughts from the Pacquiao vs. Horn fight.
1. Pacquiao Was Not Robbed
This may come as a shock to some, but Pacquiao was not robbed. I’m not saying he didn’t win the fight, but you can’t argue with the judges who felt Horn won the fight. Pacquiao didn’t dominate any round with the exception of the ninth, and many, many, rounds were “swing” rounds and could have been scored either way.
Fans have to remember that crowd reaction affects judges and this fight took place in Horn’s home country. Most of the fans in attendance were rooting for their fellow Australian and were reacting positively to every punch that Jeff Horn threw. Yes, judges are supposed to be able to block out the sound and view a fight objectively, but that’s easier said than done and no judge is completely immune to the vocal support that surrounds him.
Fans also have to realize that viewing a fight live is much different than viewing a fight on TV. When you’re watching a fight on TV you can be swayed by the commentary of the announce team and you have a much better view/angle on the action inside the ring than those who are watching the fight in person. Ring side judges do not have the advantage of wide camera angle and often their views are obstructed by the ropes, ring, competitors, and the referee.
Additionally, Jeff Horn pressed the action and was able to dominate the exchanges when they were in tight or when Pacquiao’s back was against the rope. Ring Generalship and effective aggression are two criteria that judges use to judge a fight, and it was clear that Horn was dictating the pace to Pacquiao and never stopped coming forward.
Again, I’m not saying Pacquiao didn’t win the fight, I’m merely stating he wasn’t robbed.
2. CompuBox Stats Are Overrated
Many upset boxing fans point to the CompuBox statistics as evidence that Pacquiao was robbed. They note that Horn only landed 15% of his punches and that Pacquiao landed almost 100 more punches.
However, fight fans have to understand that CompuBox punch totals are done by a person sitting ringside keeping a manual tally. There is nothing scientific or reliable about CompuBox, at best it is an estimation. CompuBox also doesn’t take into consideration the visible effects of the punches landed.
As a general rule punches are more noticeable when a bigger man lands against a smaller man, and Jeff Horn was clearly the bigger man. When his punches landed they visibly moved Pacquiao and many of Pacquiao’s punches were not noticeable to the untrained eye.
3. More Big Fights Need to Happen Outside of Las Vegas
As a fight city, Las Vegas is overrated.
Yes, it’s the gambling capital of the world and very few locations can compete with the purse sizes that Las Vegas provides. But, if you’ve ever gone to a fight in Las Vegas you’d know that most of the fans who attend a big fight in Las Vegas are more concerned with the glitz, glam and celebrity that Las Vegas provides instead of the action in the ring.
I’ve been to Vegas several times for big fights, and a good 95% of the fans in attendance do not show up until a few minutes before the main event starts. Most of the fans at a Las Vegas fight do not know the difference between a jab and a cross and are more concerned with looking good at a big event.
The Pacquiao Horn fight was held in an outdoor stadium in Australia and came across great on television. 50,000+ fans were in attendance, a number that currently can not be reached in Las Vegas. The excitement and anticipation of a fight comes off much better in a big stadium when compared to Las Vegas, and makes it more attractive to the casual sports fan.
The Klitschko vs. Joshua fight was held at Wembley Stadium and was one of the best fights of the year. The crowd was unbelievable and that fight also looked great on television.
The most entertaining fight that this writer ever attended live was when Pacquiao fought Margarito at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium. The venue was a big reason as to why that fight was so entertaining.
Granted, there will still be fight fans who only show up for the main event if a good boxing card were to be held outside of Las Vegas, but the overall experience is much better when it’s held in a stadium.
4. Pacquiao Needs to Drop Down in Weight
Ever since Pacquiao made the jump to the junior welterweight division and higher he has been the smaller man inside the ring. His walk around weight is near the welterweight limit and he often has to fight someone who has cut 10-20 pounds to make the welterweight limit.
When Pacquiao was in his prime his movement and endurance was good enough to run circles around his opponent so that they couldn’t catch him. He’s no longer in his prime and Jeff Horn was able to capitalize on his size advantage and trap Manny on the ropes with effective body work. If Jeff Horn was able to trap Pacquiao imagine what some of the other top welterweights could do to him.
Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr., Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, and even Lucas Matthysse are all opponents that are bigger than Pacquiao and would probably inflict more damage on him than what Horn did on Saturday.
Even though the current version of Pacquiao would still be competitive with most of the welterweights ranked in the top ten, he is risking serious damage to his body and health if he continues to campaign against bigger and stronger opponents when he is pushing 40.
5. An Aged Version of Pacquiao is Still Entertaining
Should Pacquiao retire? That’s a tough question but at the very least it should be discussed amongst him and his team.
But one thing that we learned on Saturday night is that even the faded and aged version of Manny Pacquiao is still exciting in the ring. His fight with Jeff Horn dominated social media and ESPN and has been the talk of the sports world for the past two days.
Fight fans were on the edge of their seat the entire fight and the ninth round was one of the most thrilling rounds of the year.
The ratings support the entertainment value of Pacquiao. ESPN recently released a press release indicating that the fight delivered a 2.4 overnight rating and was the highest rated fight for a cable network this decade. The release also indicated that the Battle of Brisbane was likely to be the highest-rated fight on ESPN’s networks since the mid 1990s.
The current version of Manny Pacquiao may have difficulty reclaiming a world title in the welterweight division, but he still draws eyes to the TV.
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.
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.
Re-Visiting the Ward vs. Kovalev I “Robbery”
Re-Visiting the Ward vs. Kovalev I “Robbery”
By: Matt O’Brien
In the immediate aftermath of Andre Ward’s unanimous victory over Sergey Kovalev in their first fight last November, emotions from both sets of fans were running high and the controversial nature of the decision elicited some intense scrutiny of the judges’ scorecards. Cries of “robbery” flooded the web, with a deluge of fans enthusiastically taking up the “boxing is crooked” narrative. With the immediate rematch looming, here I take a look back and re-examine some of the perceptions, misconceptions and post-fight reaction to their first encounter.
One of the most widely circulated post-fight misconceptions has been the idea that the deficit created by the second-round knockdown fundamentally altered Ward’s chances of victory on the judges’ cards. See, for example, the myriad variations of the argument that, “there’s no way Ward won – especially with the knockdown!”
Somewhat counter-intuitively though, mathematically speaking the 10-8 round made no difference to the final outcome. Which sounds silly on the face of it, until you do some pretty basic maths: 7-5 in rounds gives a score of 115-113; minus a point from the winner’s score and you are still left with exactly the same winner. In fact, the only scenario where a knockdown ever plays a decisive role in the scoring (assuming no further point deductions occur, which they did not) is where the twelve rounds are evenly split at six each between both fighters.
So while it may be tempting to fall for the idea that Ward’s second-round trip to the canvas gave him a mountain to climb on the cards, actually the task facing him remained the same: he still needed to win a total of seven rounds in order to take the belts home. Of course, whether or not he deserved to win seven of the remaining rounds is a contentious issue, but assuming he did, the knockdown in round two is a moot point.
Perceptions vs. Reality
It’s also often been said that, having climbed off the canvas, Ward was then given too much credit in the scoring simply because he wasn’t “getting beaten up as badly as he was earlier”, rather than for actually winning the rounds. And there is some merit to this idea. After all, anyone who was expecting and/or hoping that Ward would be the superior boxer going into the fight would have found enough reason to justify their pre-fight narrative based on the way he responded in the ensuing rounds.
However, this kind of perception cuts both ways. The most tangible and dramatic moments are naturally the ones that leave the most lasting impression in our minds, and with the Russian continuing to be the aggressor after flooring Ward in the second, the lingering sense that he was still dominating the action even after the seminal moment had passed was not an easy one to shake off. As Max Kellerman noted for the HBO commentary during the sixth round: “Psychologically I think it sways observers to think that Kovalev is doing maybe a little better than he’s actually doing.”
The reality unfolding in the rounds following the knockdown was probably somewhere in-between these two perspectives. Kovalev continued to be the aggressor, but he was never quite as effective as he was in the second round; meanwhile Ward did begin to get a foothold in the fight, but had not established any kind of firm control.
The Late Rounds Rally
One of the main bones of contention from those who cried robbery was Ward’s virtual whitewash on the scorecards over the second half of the fight, in which Kovalev was only awarded a single round (the twelfth) by a single judge. With most of these rounds being closely contested, many fans cited the near clean-sweep as evidence of the judges’ incompetence, since there was no way Ward “dominated” Kovalev so conclusively.
The problem with this argument is that rounds that are decisively won and those that are nicked by the finest of margins are both scored 10-9, and judges are supposed to view every round as an individual entity, not try to “balance” their scores according to how close the action has been overall. In other words, a series of rounds that are edged by one fighter produce a lopsided score total that does not necessarily reflect just how competitive the action as a whole has been. Consequently, even though Ward did not “dominate” Kovalev over the second half of the fight, in the sense of putting a beating on him and decisively winning every single round, that doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to “dominate” the scoring on the cards, assuming that he was consistently doing better – even by the tiniest of margins. And there is evidence to support the idea that this was actually the case.
Firstly, the punch stats indicate that Ward was the more effective boxer from round seven onwards. Although Kovalev recorded a slightly higher number of landed punches over the fight as a whole (10 more total punches) over the last half of the fight it was Ward who connected with more (80-74 in total), landing more in four out of the last six rounds. He also connected at a higher percentage in every round from 7-12, even though Kovalev threw more shots in all except the seventh – indicating that while the champion was still the aggressor, it was the challenger who had the much superior accuracy and defence.
Secondly, it’s also worth bearing in mind Kovalev’s own words in the buildup to the rematch. Speaking on HBO’s “24/7” program, the former champ admitted that, “[the] first four rounds, I didn’t feel it. But in the fifth round, my energy finished… I mean, I finished the fight, all the twelve rounds. But I just don’t know how I managed all the remaining seven rounds.” Again, this would seem to indicate that Ward’s second-half resurgence was much more than just a figment of our imaginations.
The Swing Rounds
HBO’s Harold Lederman is a respected analyst and the broadcaster’s longtime on-air scoring guide. He had Kovalev winning the fight comfortably, by a margin of 116-111. Taking the scorecard of someone who had Kovalev clearly winning the fight as a benchmark then, is it really so outlandish to suggest that Ward should have emerged the winner? The evidence says no: in fact, even using a card that favours Kovalev so widely, it only takes three swing rounds out of twelve to produce a different result. And it is not difficult to find three such potential rounds on his card.
Consider, for example, that after eight completed rounds Lederman had Kovalev in a 5-3 lead. Notably though, Lederman’s colleague Max Kellerman stated during the eighth round: “In terms of the scores, Harold has given two rounds to Kovalev that I thought could have been given to Ward”. Swinging just one of these rounds on Lederman’s card would then put the fighters dead even at four rounds each going into the last third of the fight. Then consider Lederman’s view of the ninth round, which seemed way off base. Ward clearly landed the more eye-catching blows and according to the punch stats it was actually his best round of the fight (Kellerman again immediately voiced his opinion that he thought Lederman’s reading of the round was wrong).
Far from needing to give Ward “every benefit of the doubt” then, in fact using Lederman’s card we’d only need to swing two rounds out of the first eleven to put Ward into a 6-5 lead going into the final round. As it turned out, the twelfth was another close one in which the official judges and many pundits were split – a classic “swing round” that could reasonably be scored in either direction.
The upshot of all of this is that whether or not you thought Ward deserved the decision, it makes no sense to claim that the judges’ verdict was implausible. The truth is that it was a close fight where both men had palpable moments of ascendency. Kovalev made an excellent start, but his lead was far from insurmountable and Ward clearly fought more effectively over the second half of the fight. From the third round onwards there were several swing rounds where a good case could be made for either boxer; which way you saw those rounds essentially determined how you scored the fight.
So if you thought Kovalev deserved to be the winner, by all means state your case. But let’s not pretend the first fight was a robbery – the sport has enough problems without adding phony ones to the list. The two men will settle their difference in the ring tonight, so let’s hope the result will be more clear cut this time whichever way it goes, and just sit back and enjoy a rematch between two of the best fighters in the sport.
The Best Match In Boxing Is Going Down This Saturday…Does Anyone Care?
The Best Match In Boxing Is Going Down This Saturday…Does Anyone Care?
By: Sean Crose
While the sports world focuses on more frivolous matters this week, the best matchup in all of combat sports is going down this Saturday. No, it doesn’t involve a loudmouthed Irishman or a flashy hedonist with a perfect record. Believe it or not, it doesn’t even involve a red headed Mexican and a Kazakh knockout machine. No, the best match in all of combat sports involves a Russian immigrant and a churchgoing Californian who are set to collide in the city of Las Vegas. Few outside of the world of boxing even know it’s happening. Perhaps few inside the world of boxing even care.
And that, friends, is really too bad. For Saturday night’s Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev fight for light heavyweight supremacy promises boxing at it’s best. Exquisite skill. Frightening power. Two men with a lot to prove. Ward-Kovalev II has it all. The first fight between both men last fall wasn’t a classic, but it was damn good, with Ward pulling off a close, yet controversial decision win. Each man now aims to settle things once and for all. Oh, and they don’t like each other. Or at least Kovalev despises Ward. In fact, he despises Ward so bad, he’s made it clear he wants to hurt the man.
Considering the fact that Kovalev has already ended one life, that’s legitimately frightening stuff. Not that the Russian is actually looking to kill Ward, he’s just looking to dispense a world class ass kicking. Ward, on the other hand, is clearly looking to take his opponent to school. And by the way, the guy’s really good at taking opponents to school. One suspects Ward’s also looking to let Kovalev know he’s no pushover. In other words, there’s a lot to look forward to here. The question, however, is whether or not anyone’s actually looking forward to it.
This writer is, and no doubt others are, as well. Probably not too many others, though, and that’s a shame. Neither Ward nor Kovalev has an enormous fan base. People aren’t going to fly across the Atlantic by the jet full for this fight. Nor is an army of people donning hats declaring its preferred fighter the best ever going to be spotted around Vegas this weekend. Nope. This fight is for the purists. As George Foreman once said, boxing is like jazz, the better it is, the less people like it.
Here’s hoping for some seriously good jazz this weekend.