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Terence Crawford: Only Wants the Champions at 147


By: Rich Mancuso

Undefeated Jose Benavidez Jr. is the next opponent for Terence Crawford next Saturday evening at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford, the three-division world champion, will defend his WBO Welterweight title for the second time. But this is not the opponent he wants in a fight that will be televised on the ESPN platforms.

Don’t get this wrong. Crawford, not one to stir the pot, is honored that Benavidez took this fight. And the home crowd will be thrilled to see their champion again. Many consider him to be either number one or two in the pound-for-pound discussion.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Not to overlook Benavidez, Crawford is very content with the promotional deal he has with Top Rank. However, in a Thursday afternoon conference call with media the names of champions such as Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jr. came into the discussion. These are some of the elite fighters in the 147-pound division along with some others.

The welterweight division is the talk of boxing. Spence Jr. is known as the elite champion and always a target. With that in mind, where does Terence Crawford stand in the mix of all this? He is with Top Rank, the others with PBC and their platforms of Showtime and Fox.

“Spence, Porter, Thurman, those are the only champions,” Crawford said. “ I don’t look at the WBC Silver interim belts . I look at the actual champion in the division.”

So this is a matter, first of Crawford getting past Benavidez Jr. and then the talk about a mega fight with Spence Jr. who holds the IBF title. The issue is logistics with two major platforms of promoters and networks putting their differences aside and giving fight fans what they want.

Crawford has Top Rank in the corner. The ESPN deal with his promoter is strong and delivering what boxing fans and the sport desire. The Crawford camp is content but as everyone is aware, this is a business.

The talk has to be done at the table, and very similar to the deal that was made when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. got in the ring three years ago. Brian McIntyre, manager and trainer for Crawford wants the elite fights to be made. He made his case on the conference call.

“We want after the champions, man,” McIntyre said. “There is no reason to be fighting a No. 6 dude or a No. 7 dude. Terence wants the best fighters out there at 147.”

Top Rank president Todd duBoef was also on the conference call. McIntyre is seeking the best for his fighter and said the heat is on with Top Rank and all for the best involved.

“We’ll put the heat on him,” he said. He’s the one who makes the fights happen. He could go to ESPN and make those fights happen. Terence wants the fights to happen. Let’s go. The only fights out there is the other champions.”

They don’t want a number 7 or 8 fighter in the division, because this is about the elite fighters at 147.

To that, duBoef said, “We have said this regardless of your affiliation, we don’t care what you are ,what you do, Terence is an elite fighter. in fact elite fight, all they talk is about Terence. “We’ve done the biggest fights with all the complications. We’ve done the biggest with no complications”

But there are always complications. Venues, purse, and how two networks that are in competition can co-exist. A response from the PBC was unavailable when reached for comment.

“We’re gonna go after all those guys,” duBoef said. “We’re not allowing anything, no politics, no nothing, to get in the way. They wanna do it, we wanna do it, let’s just get it done. We’ll figure out a solution.”

Crawford, on the other hand, avoids this discussion about fighting the elite champions. He is focused on this fight next weekend and when it comes to consideration about being the Number 1 pound-for-pound, he just goes about his business. He wants to take on opponents and bypass the talk of Top 10 fighter or who is Number 1 or 2.

“Some people rate me number 1 some people rate me number 2,” Crawford said. “I can’t complain some people rate me number 2. Don’t pay attention. My main attention is Benavidez. I’m focused and ready to go next week. Keep winning in tremendous fashion.”

He added: “ I never predict a knockout. I just go in there if I see a chance for a knockout I’ll go for it. All i do is go in there and get the win. I believe he is going to come out and try and make it a fight and if he does do it we have a game plan for that as well.

However, this could be the tune-up fight towards the next one. There is time for the respective promotions and networks to stage an eventual Crawford and Spence Jr. title fight.

“Still growing up in this division,” Crawford said. “Not looking to move up. Great relationship with Top Rank. We build a lot of great memories together and built me up to where I am now. Takes me wherever I want to go.”

Benavidez Jr. sought this fight and there was no hesitation. Because Terence Crawford never ducks an opponent, and in boxing you take the opportunity as there is always a chance to pull off the unexpected. And by all means, the height and reach is something to look at with that undefeated record coming in against the champion.

But we all know, this fight is all about Terence Crawford. It’s about getting to the elite and opposing Errol Spence Jr. and soon.

Comment: Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso [email protected]

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Boxing Insider Notebook: Thurman, Barrera, Magdaleno, Russell, Diaz, Stevenson, and more…


Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of April 17th to April 24th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Injury Rehabilitation Forces Keith Thurman to Relinquish WBC Belt

Unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman has voluntarily relinquished his WBC title while he recovers from the effects of elbow surgery last year and a hand injury he suffered in training camp last month.
After speaking with WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman recently, Thurman decided that he would relinquish the title and open the way for former champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, the two leading contenders for the WBC title, to fight each other for the championship while Thurman made a full recovery from his injuries.

“Due to my rehabilitation from my injuries, I agreed to relinquish my WBC title at this time. I continue to rehab my hand and elbow and I look forward to getting back in the ring this summer. This is a temporary setback and I will be the unified champion once again and look forward to winning back my WBC title as soon as possible,” said Thurman.

“Keith Thurman unfortunately has suffered two consecutive injuries that have kept him out of the ring after his sensational victory over Danny Garcia and he has graciously relinquished his title, and the WBC has mandated that Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter will fight for the title,” said Mauricio Sulaiman. “Keith will have a direct path to fight for the title once he has healed just as Vitali Klitshcko and other WBC champions have done in the past. Keith is a tremendous athlete, champion and role model. The WBC will support him completely during this difficult time. ”

Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs), a former unified champion at 140 pounds and the former WBC welterweight champion, lost the WBC title to Thurman by 12-round split decision in 2017. He bounced back with a knockout victory over former champion Brandon Rios in February. The WBC had made that fight a title elimination match, which put Garcia in line to fight Thurman again for the title.

Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), a former welterweight champion, lost a close 12-round decision to Thurman in 2016. He became the mandatory challenger for the WBC title when he knocked out Andre Berto last year. He maintained his status with a 12-round decision over Adrian Granados in November.

The 29-year-old Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) has been plagued by a string of injuries the last two years.
Thurman injured his neck in a car accident in February 2016, which delayed his match against Porter by three months. When they met Thurman defeated Porter by unanimous decision on June 25.

He defeated Garcia by split decision in a welterweight unification match on March 4, 2017. A month later he had major surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs and calcium deposits. He is still in rehabilitation from that surgery.

Thurman injured his hand hitting the heavy bag last month and aggravated the injury sparring with some amateurs at his gym in St. Petersburg, Florida. An MRI revealed bruises to the metacarpal bones in the hand, which also has extensive swelling. Thurman can’t have any impact with the hand for at least 8 weeks, which added another delay to his ring return.

He now hopes to return to the ring in the late summer or early fall.

Jessie Magdaleno: I’m Going to Put on a Spectacular Show

World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight champion Jessie Magdaleno has spent his latest training camp running the mountains near Guadalajara, Mexico, and alongside some of the world’s best fighters at Legendz Boxing in Norwalk, Calif. Magdaleno is preparing for the role of main event headliner against No. 1 contender and interim champion Isaac Dogboe (18-0, 12 KOs) on Saturday, April 28 at The Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

“I’m mentally ready. I’m physically ready,” Magdaleno said. “Being here with {trainer} Manny Robles keeps me ready. The sparring has been great, but I get impatient sometimes and just want to get in the ring for real. I have to stay calm and wait until the fight comes.”

Said Robles: “Dogboe is a real tough opponent. Jessie definitely has to be ready for this fight, and it should be a fan-friendly fight.”

Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KOs) won the world title with a unanimous decision over four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire on Nov. 5, 2016. He has defended his belt once, a second-round stoppage over Adeilson Dos Santos last April. When Magdaleno steps into the ring against Dogboe, it will have been 371 days since the Dos Santos fight.

“It’s been a long training camp, and I’ve been training with some excellent fighters,” Magdaleno said. “I was with {WBO featherweight champion} Oscar Valdez in Mexico, and now, it’s the home stretch. We’re more than ready to get back in the ring.”

The pre-fight drama escalated last month when Dogboe’s father/trainer, Paul Dogboe, told Ghana’s Pulse website: “We hope Magdaleno will not run like a chicken. We hope he makes the weight and comes in with no excuses because we are ready for him. We are ready to eat him like a chicken. We are focused, and our only mission is to devour him, eat the crazy chicken, throw him over the wall of Mexico and present the title to Donald Trump. Magdaleno will run when he sees Isaac.”

Paul Dogboe has since apologized, and Magdaleno is intent on doing his talking inside the ring.
“It’s about experience, staying focused, and doing our job,” Magdaleno said. “Manny keeps me focused on the fight, and that is my main concern.”

Magdaleno-Dogboe will be televised LIVE on ESPN and stream in English and Spanish on the ESPN App at 7 p.m. ET. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+, available on the ESPN App, beginning at 4 p.m. ET. ESPN Deportes will air the fight at 10 p.m. ET.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets, priced at $100 (ringside), $65 and $35, are ON SALE NOW and can be purchased at The Liacouras Center Box Office and www.liacourascenter.com, or by calling Peltz Boxing at 215-765-0922.

Adonis Stevenson to Face Badou Jack May 19th in Toronto

Undefeated knockout artist Adonis Stevenson, the longest reigning light heavyweight world champion, will defend his title against two-division champion Badou Jack on Saturday, May 19 live on SHOWTIME from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

The showdown between Stevenson and Jack is one of the most intriguing matches in the light heavyweight division as Jack, a former 168-pound and 175-pound champion, has relinquished his title for the chance to challenge one of the hardest hitters in the sport. Both men are looking to make their claim as the class of the division.

Stevenson vs. Jack is part of a split-site SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT with featherweight champion Gary Russell, Jr. defending his title against mandatory title challenger Joseph Diaz from the MGM National Harbor in Maryland on Saturday, May 19.

Tickets for the Toronto show, which is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel, Lee Baxter Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, are on sale Friday, April 27 and will be available at www.ticketmaster.ca.
“It is the second time that we will come to Toronto to promote a WBC world championship fight with Adonis Stevenson,” said Yvon Michel, President of Groupe Yvon Michel. “If you found the first event to be spectacular, be sure not to miss the second one as it will be a real firework! Badou Jack is a two-division world champion and an Olympian. He is dangerous and by far the biggest challenge for Adonis since he won the title against Chad Dawson in 2013. We are confident that ‘Superman’ has what it takes to defend his title successfully for the ninth time.

“I would also like to give thanks to our co-promoter Lee Baxter. This event would not have been possible without his collaboration. In addition, I am grateful for Lee and Wayne Zronik from MLSE, who are providing great support for this event and has opened the doors of the Air Canada Centre to us.”

“Mayweather Promotions is looking forward to partnering with Groupe Yvon Michel to pull off this highly anticipated matchup,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Adonis Stevenson has been a reigning champion in this division since 2013. Badou Jack has risen to every challenge he’s faced in his career. Now, he has an opportunity to become a three-time world champion and that raises the stakes for him. I predict two confident, hard-punching and highly skilled fighters will enter the ring at Air Canada Centre on May 19, both determined to walk away a champion.’’

“We are looking forward to hosting this spectacular event at Air Canada Centre,” said Wayne Zronik, Senior Vice President, Music and Live Events at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “It is the first title fight that the venue will host. We’ve worked with this group before to bring world class boxing to the city and are excited for the return of championship boxing to Toronto, and to Air Canada Centre in particular.”

Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) owns one of the most powerful left hands in boxing and goes by the ring moniker “Superman’’. The 40-year-old Stevenson has made eight successful defenses of his title since winning it with a knockout victory over Chad Dawson in 2013. The lineal 175-pound champion most recently defended his title with a second-round stoppage of Andrzej Fonfara last June and delivered a third round TKO over Tommy Karpency in his most recent defense in Toronto in 2015.

“I’m definitely excited and hungry to get into the ring and perform,” said Stevenson. “I’ve trained very hard for this fight against Badou Jack. I’m looking forward to winning this fight by knockout. I’m from the Kronk Gym and we always look for the knockout. Jack is a good, technical boxer. He was a world champion and he has done very well. He’s tough and I won’t underestimate him. I’ll be prepared for anything he brings in the ring.

“I’m fighting him at home in Canada, so I’m looking to give the fans a good show. I’ve got power and I’ve got the best left hook in boxing. I’ve got 12 rounds and I just need to touch you once to end it. It’s not complicated. I don’t need three or four shots. I just need one shot and you’re not going to recover. I’m going to finish you.”

The 34-year-old Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) relinquished his 168-pound world championship following a majority draw against James DeGale in 2017 to move up to light heavyweight. He made a successful debut at 175 pounds by knocking out Nathan Cleverly for the light heavyweight championship last August. Jack then relinquished that title to seek out this challenge against the division’s heaviest hitter. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, a 2008 Olympian for his father’s native Gambia and now residing in Las Vegas, Jack is looking to become a three-time world champion on his opponent’s home turf on May 19.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to fight for my third world title against one of the division’s best, Adonis Stevenson,” said Jack. “I’ve been asking for this fight for a long time and was willing to fight him anywhere, including his backyard. I know he’s good and very dangerous and that’s the reason I want to fight him. I’m all about the best fighting the best and come May 19th, I’m bringing the WBC belt back to Las Vegas. My newborn son, Malik was born just before training camp so now I have two children to fight for, which gives me all the motivation I need to get this win.”

Gary Russell Jr. vs. Joseph Diaz Press Conference Quotes

WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) and unbeaten No. 1 contender Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. (26-0, 14 KOs) hosted a press conference and faced off for the first time Tuesday before their championship showdown Saturday, May 19 live on SHOWTIME from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions, are on sale now and are available by visitinghttp://mgmnationalharbor.com/.

The Russell vs. Diaz fight is part of a split-site SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast that will feature WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson defending his title against two-division world champion Badou Jack in a main event from Toronto presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Russell Jr., a 2008 U.S. Olympian and 126-pound titleholder since 2015, will defend against his mandatory challenger in the 25-year-old Diaz, who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic games and will be competing in his first title bout.

Here is what the fighters had to say Tuesday from TAP Sports Bar at MGM National Harbor:
GARY RUSSELL JR.

“It’s amazing to be fighting at home. It’s cool to know that the people I see around all the time will be able to get in the car and drive 15 minutes to come watch this massacre. I can’t wait.

“I appreciate JoJo for being honest and saying that he feels I’m the best featherweight in the world. That speaks volumes.

“We stay focused in the gym. The inactivity doesn’t mean anything. It’s no issue. I’ve had hand issues in the past but I’m able to preserve my body and stay sharp, stay focused. I’m a fighter that’s always in shape. I never take a day off. You can ask my wife. On anniversaries, we’re in the gym. On birthdays, we’re in the gym.

“Regardless of what the situation is, you want a sense of financial stability for yourself and your family. I’m at the point of my career where I have maybe six more fights in me. We want to maximize everything. We want to maximize our revenue and it’s been irritating because a lot of the champions don’t want to get in the ring with me. I appreciate JoJo for giving me the opportunity to sharpen my teeth a little bit more. At least he’ll have the opportunity to say he got in the ring with Mr. Gary Russell Jr.

“I’m one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet. Speed, power, ring IQ, we can get ugly if we need to. I don’t plan on going 12 rounds. I’m not going the distance with anybody for the remainder of my career. Mark my words.

“When you have guys that fight and move around a lot, it makes it difficult to get to them the way you want to. When you have a guy that is straightforward and will be in your face, it makes it much easier for me and they’re much more susceptible to get hit.

“A lot of fighters win with pure athleticism because they’re faster, stronger or in better shape. They’re not winning because they have the ability to make the necessary adjustments based on what goes on in the ring. I tell people all the time that boxing is intellect manifested on a physical form. In most cases, the more intelligent fighter wins.

“My father says that whenever you see a fight that is an all-out, knockdown war, it’s just two stupid fighters that didn’t have a plan B or the ability to make the adjustments to make the fight easier. If that’s JoJo’s game plan, it’s going to make this fight a lot easier for me. It’s not going 12 rounds.

“As far as a hit list of my next opponents goes, we are first going to take care of JoJo. I would love to get a unification bout with Leo Santa Cruz after that. If we don’t get that, I plan on moving up in weight and challenging whoever has the title in that division. You want to know who I really want, though? I want Mikey Garcia.

“My last fight will be against (Vasyl) Lomachenko. I want to conclude my career with breaking my foot off of him. That will be the conclusion of it. I’m willing to wait, though. Right now, we’re good.
“Of course I would entertain a fight with Gervonta Davis. We’re cool. He’s somebody that I actually watched grow up and develop as a fighter, but you have to stay in your lane. When I move up in weight, he’s got to get out of the way or he’s going to get ran over too.

“I didn’t want to come home to fight until I had a world title. That’s the reason I didn’t fight at home for so long. Now we have the title, and I wanted to fight at least one more time here.

“I want to maximize our revenue because I don’t plan on fighting for too much longer. I had my first fight at seven years old. I’m 29 now. That’s a long time competing and a lot of wear and tear on your body. I’m a guy that doesn’t cut corners, so it takes away from the time I could be spending with my family and friends. I’m ready to spend time with my family and children and live out the fruits of our labor. But in the meantime, everybody else is in my way. They’re trying to take food off my baby’s plate.”

JOSEPH DIAZ JR.

“I don’t think the fact that I’ve been more active will give me any advantage. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing and getting the experience I need inside the ring before facing an elite fighter like Gary Russell Jr. My preparation has been good. I’ve fought tremendous opponents and I have all the experience to come out victorious May 19.

“It doesn’t affect me at all fighting in his hometown. I’m happy to fight in his backyard. He’s the champion and that’s what champions get to do. I know what he’s capable of doing. He says I don’t have the boxing IQ or the power and speed that he has, but he’s going to be in for a rude awakening come fight night. He’s going to see that I have all the tools.

“It’s a dream come true to be fighting on this stage. Ever since I roomed with Errol Spence at the Olympics, we always promised each other that once we became pro we were going to fight all the elite athletes and the best champions. Gary Russell Jr. is the best at 126 pounds. I’m not scared to fight him and that’s what Errol Spence did, too. He beat Kell Brook in his hometown.

“Gary Russell Jr. is by far the best featherweight in the world. Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Lee Selby, none of these guys want to fight Russell. They’re afraid of the speed and the counter shots. But I know what I’m capable of doing and I’ll showcase it May 19.

“A win would mean everything for me. It would be a dream come true realizing all of the hard work I’ve put in since I was 13 years old. It would mean that I’m the champion and I’d be the shot caller.

“I think his speed is an obstacle; he’s very fast. But that’s the thing about me, I’m good at adapting to any style that I fight. Come fight night I know that his speed is going to be fast, but it’s nothing that I won’t be able to take, or nothing that will shock me. I’m going to be able to adapt to that speed and make sure I’m able to land my shots when he’s opening up.

“I’m very confident; 100 percent confident I’ll beat him. I know that this is an opportunity that is presented to me and I’ll be victorious. I’ve always prayed to God that I could fight on SHOWTIME and for a WBC title. And now that I am it feels like it’s all settling in and it’s all coming true. I’m working hard every single day, and once I get my hand raised in victory I’m going to go from there.

“If he gets a little bit over confident like he did against [Oscar] Escandon, he’s going to be in for a rude awakening. He’s going to be shocked with not only my punching power, but also with my combinations and with my speed. I’m not like a Jhonny Gonzalez where I’m just throwing one shot, or slow combinations. I’m pretty fast with my punches and you won’t see my punches coming because I throw them very elusive and I punch from different angles. He’s going to be very shocked if he fights the way he fought Oscar Escandon.

“I don’t think it’s going to go the distance. Gary Russell is going to go out there and not back down and give the fight fans a good show, but I’m going to go out there and give a good show and not back down. So I think we’re both not going to back down and we’re going to brawl it out, and let the best man win.”

Sullivan Barrera Expects Bounce Back Performance on Kovalev-Alvarez Undercard

Light heavyweight contender Sullivan “Sully B” Barrera is back in training camp armed with a new fight date and a fresh attitude.

The former Cuban amateur standout admits that not much went right in his March 3rd loss to Dmitry Bivol but chalks it up to an off night and said that it was a learning experience.

Barrera is back with his team but has also added a sports psychologist to his squad in an effort to make sure a repeat of March 3rd doesn’t happen.

“I feel great. I know that was just one bad night. I am not worried about the past and only looking ahead,” Barrera explained.

The plan is for Barrera to return to the ring sometime in the summer on the Sergey Kovalev-Eleider undercard and he hopes to fight the winner next.

“I think the fans know that I always want to fight the best out there. After this fight I want another big fight. My goal is to fight whoever wins between Kovalev and Alvarez,” said Barrera.

“Boxing is like sex. You can be the best lover in the world but sometimes you have an off night. My fiancee knows I am the best even if I don’t perform as well one night. I want to get back in the ring and show the world my best again.”

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Is the Welterweight Division the Strongest in Boxing?


By: Ken Hissner

The welterweight division is packed with talented boxers and mentioned as the toughest division in boxing. The WBA Super World and WBC champion is Keith “One Time” Thurman, 28-0 (22), of Clearwater, FL, who defeated Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 28-2-1 (17), of Las Vegas, NV, in June of 2016. Thurman is scheduled to defend his title May 19th at the Barclay Center, in Brooklyn, NY, with an opponent to be named. Thurman hasn’t fought since March of 2017. Porter won the WBC Silver title in November 2017. He also lost to Kell Brook, of the UK. He entered the ring over the weekend barking at Garcia who had just defeated Brandon Rios. He had to be escorted out of the ring.

Devon Alexander “The Great”, 27-4-1 (14), of St. Louis lost his IBF title to Porter in December of 2013. He drew with the former WBC champion Victor Ortiz, 32-6-3 (25), of Ventura, CA, this past weekend and was robbed. Porter lost it to Kell Brook, of the UK, in August of 2014. Brook lost it to Errol Spence, Jr. in May of 2017 and hasn’t fought since and dropped out of the ratings. Spence still holds the title and is 23-0 (20), of DeSoto, TX, and in his once defense he stopped Lamont Peterson, 35-4-1, in January of 2018 who is no longer in the ratings. Spence is scheduled to defend his title on June 16th in Dallas, TX, with an opponent to be announced.

Lucas “La Maquina,” Matthysse, 39-4 (36), of Argentina won the WBA World title stopping Tewa Kiram, 38-1, of Thailand, in January of 2018, and Kiram is no longer in the ratings. Matthysse lost to Danny “Swift” Garica in 2013 at Super Lightweight.

Garcia, 34-1 (17), of Philadelphia, PA, lost his WBC title to Thurman in March of 2017. He just had his first fight since then stopping the former WBA Lightweight champion Brandon Rios, 34-4-1, this past weekend. Garcia was asked afterwards if he wanted a rematch with Thurman and he said “that’s up to him.” Garcia is No. 2 in the WBC and No. 1 in the WBA.

The WBO champion is Australia’s Jeff “The Hornet” Horn, 18-0-1 (12), who won the title on a gift decision over former world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 59-7-2 (38), of the Philippines in July of 2017. Horn must fight his No. 1 contender Terence “Bud” Crawford, 32-0 (23), of Omaha, NEB, who held the four organization title at Super Lightweight and is having his first welterweight fight. That is scheduled for April 14th in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao is ranked No. 3 by the WBC and No. 2 by both the WBA and WBO. He is scheduled to fight Mike Alvarado, 38-4 (26), of Thornton, CO, April 14th in Las Vegas. The IBF’s No. 1 and No. 2 slots are vacant. Cuban Yordenis Ugas, 21-3 (10), of Miami, FL, who is No. 14 and stopped No. 11 “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-3, of Philadelphia, PA, over the weekend with the winner promised the No. 2 spot.

The No. 3 spot in the IBF is held by Carlos “Chema” Ocampo, 22-0 (13), of Baja CA, Mexico, who has never fought outside of Mexico. He has not defeated anyone of record but still has that high rating. Either Ugas or Ocampo may get that title shot at Spence.

Jesse “The Pride of Las Vegas” Vargas, 28-2 (10), of Las Vegas, NV, is No. 3 in the WBA and No. 4 in both the WBC and IBF. He lost to Pacquiao in November of 2016. Vargas outgrew his WBA Super Lightweight title after his November 2014 defense and has gone 2-2 since.

The UK’s British champion Bradley Skeete, 27-1 (12), is the WBO No. 3 and IBF No. 5 contender. He hasn’t fought since July of 2017. Another unbeaten contender is Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, 32-0 (13), living in Big Bear, CA, ranked No. 9 in the IBF and No. 8 in the WBC.

So, to summarize the situation in the welterweight division both WBC and WBA champion Thurman and IBF champion Spence, Jr. have defenses scheduled without opponents at this time. Horn will be meeting Crawford who is heavily favored to take that title. Thurman may be fighting his No. 1 contender Porter. Spence could fight Ugas, Ocampo or Vargas. The division is wide open for some great fights!

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After Conquering The United Kingdom, what is the Next Move for Errol Spence Jr.?


After conquering The United Kingdom, what is the next move for Errol Spence Jr.?
By: Kirk Jackson

He came, he saw, he conquered.

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Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. 22-0 (19 KO’s) delivered on his promise, dethroning IBF welterweight champion Kell “Special K” Brook 36-2 (25 KO’s) in a thrilling, competitive bout across the pond in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom this past weekend.

Displaying what Spence described as “True grit,” the newly crowned champ accomplished the same feat a few high profile, contemporary American fighters accomplished – traveling to the United Kingdom to win their first world title.

Terence Crawford, Timothy Bradley and Marvin Hagler won their first world titles in the United Kingdom. Pretty good company.

After eating a few of Brook’s “Chocolate brownies,” Spence dissed out his own punishment, stopping the brave Brit in 11 rounds.

“I watched some of his fights and he likes to fight at a certain pace,” Spence told Showtime’s Jim Gray after winning the title.

“And once you pick up the pace on him, he kind of breaks down a little bit, and he can’t throw a lot of punches. So I decided to press the action, make him fight at a pace that he didn’t wanna fight at. Then he started breathing hard and he started slowing down, and I knew that I had him.”

Spence stated in his post-fight interview, the goal is to fight all of the top guys in the division. He wants to unify all of the belts and specifically called out unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s) and WBO welterweight champ Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38 KO’s).

“I’ve been calling Keith Thurman out for a long time,” said Spence. “Now it’s time. You say I have to prove myself and I haven’t fought anybody. Well, I just beat the so-called biggest welterweight in the division – Kell Brook. So now, Keith Thurman, you know, come-out. It’s time to fight.”

Thurman appears to be game. Whether these fights occur remain to be seen. It’s been suggested Spence has been avoided in boxing’s toughest division.

It will be difficult to avoid Spence now that he has championship stake in the division. If he can unify, then all championship welterweight roads must be traveled through him.

“The goal is to unify the titles,” Spence told Sky Sports following Saturday’s fight. “I wanna fight Keith Thurman next, you know, Manny Pacquiao next. I wanna fight the champions next, unify the division and become the undisputed champion of the world.”

Danny “Swift” Garcia 33-1 (19 KO’s) and Thurman played their part in the unification process earlier in March and it will be great for boxing if the trend continues throughout the year.

With Pacquiao facing relatively unknown contender Jeff “The Hornet” Horn 16-0-1 (11 KO’s) in July, time to will tell if he wants to participate in this unofficial, welterweight-tournament styled unification process.

Spence appears to have a bright future and it will be interesting to see the challenges in store for him next.

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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.

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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.

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Is It Still KO’s For Life?


Is it still KO’s for life?
By: Kirk Jackson

It wasn’t the slug fest some anticipated, but more of a fistic chess match between players with adverse styles.

The styles of each fighter (Thurman, Garcia) distinct, along with the intentions of each fighter (boxing from the outside vs. aggressive pursuit), many of the rounds were up for debate even to the well trained eye.

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While it does not appear to be “KO’s for life” for the newly unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s), he displayed impressive skills in victory over Danny Garcia 33-1 (19 KO’s).

Viewers of the Premier Boxing Champions on CBS did not witness a knockout in the main event, however, prospect turned contender Erickson Lubin 18-0 (13 KO’s) scored a sensational KO en route to his victory over Jorge Cota 25-2 (22 KO’s).
The PBC knocked the competition ratings wise leading their time slot.

Regarding Thurman, although he did not score the knockout he wanted and there may be discussion regarding how rounds were scored or interpreted, the fact remains he is still undefeated.

While boasting an impressive KO percentage of 76%, 22 stoppages in 28 fights, Thurman has not scored a KO since 2013.

“KO’s for life, okay. I’ma put you to sleep all day, every day. If not, I’m going to sleep because I come to fight. I come to hurt you or get hurt,” stated Thurman.

Why the recent decline of KO’s for Keith?
The lack of knock outs may be due to the technique; Thurman does not fully thrust his weight, thrust his hips into all of his punches so he can score the knockout.
It’s more so arm punches; flashy punches with great speed and accuracy, but not always with enough power to knock someone out. Thurman’s punches however are situational.

Depends on the opponent, varies on what Thurman is trying to do from a strategic standpoint. Against Garcia, Thurman was trying to box from the outside and tally up points. It’s difficult to sit down and place weight with punches when constantly moving. This is a case of strategy and victory over obtaining a knockout.

Also to note, with victories over Julio Diaz and Luis Collazo in 2014 and 2015 respectively, both fighters quit on their stool in between rounds. It could be noted neither fighter wanted to continue enduring the power punches from Thurman
Knockouts are harder to come by when facing elite level opposition.

Pacquiao hasn’t scored a KO since 2009 and he’s heralded for his punching power right? When stepping up in class, in most cases, the fights are against boxers with better defensive skills and greater chins.

It hurts the sport when the art is not properly diagnosed and analyzed; when there isn’t an explanation from the commentators as to what the viewer is watching, there may be confusion. Paulie Malignaggi’s presence was missed.

Some of the older heads of the sport who are so dismissive of the newer generation of fighters do not do the sport any favors.

Many writers and media personalities criticizing the fighters and the fights at every whim, motivated by hidden agendas is not helping matters.

ESPN barely touched on this fight leading up to Saturday. The well show First Take, featuring a self-proclaimed boxing fan Stephen A. Smith and longtime boxing analyst Max Kellerman hardly touched on this fight.

There were only three fights in history of the sport featuring two undefeated welterweight champions unifying the titles prior to Thurman vs. Garcia. Two boxers in their primes and who are pound for pound quality fighters.

How is the sport supposed to return to glory days, when media personalities in a position of power hardly talk about the sport in a positive light?

Perhaps the criticism of this fight particularly stems from Thurman’s proclamation of seeking knockouts and destruction.

While that sounds great in theory, it’s not realistic for the reasons aforementioned. Especially if Thurman can’t knockout or knockdown the smaller man; Garcia spent most of his amateur and professional career at 140 lbs.

In spite of these criticisms, Thurman displayed all of the qualities of p4p fighter this past Saturday. Elusive lateral movement, pristine jabbing, speed, combination punching and most important high level boxing IQ.
Instead of living by the mantra “KO’s for life,” Thurman may want to switch up to – victories by any means necessary.

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Thurman Made a Statement, but What Now for the Champ?


Thurman Made a Statement, but What Now for the Champ?
By Harry Hogg

Keith Thurman (28-0)claimed a split decision victory over Danny Garcia (33-1) in New York on Saturday night to unify the WBA (super) and WBC welterweight titles. The victoryin front a record crowd at the Barclays center consolidates Thurman’s position as the number one fighter in the 147lbs division.

Keith Thurman

Thurman’s display was well worth the victory, his incredible movement and eye catching punch power was there for all to see. In the end he was far too classy fora pretty ordinary Garcia, who seemed to lack any real ideas as to how to deal with Thurman.

Thurman’s performance was not without its flaws however. Seemingly cruising towards victory, Thurman faded late on giving Garcia the last few rounds. In the end this almost cost Thurman on the cards. He was in control for the majority of the fight and should have claimed the win unanimously. But his reluctance to engage late on and tendency to play safe almost backfired on the unbeaten American.

Never the less there is no denying he was the better fighter and deserved to be the first unifiedwelterweight champion since Floyd Mayweather in 2015. He was smart and picked his shots well, combined with some impressive footwork and movement, he was difficult to pin down for a largely inactive Garcia. The Philadelphiaman was resilient and kept coming forward, but very rarely troubledThurman.

What is next?

Thurman is now the number 1 fighter at 147, and is the man to beat. And while Garcia expressed his desire for a rematch, it is difficult to see this one happening again. The fight started well enough but never really kicked into gear, with Garcia leaving himself far too much to do in the later rounds.

But the American will surely be keeping a close eye on events in London in May, when Kell Brook defends his IBF belt against the dangerous Errol Spence Jr.The prospect of a second unification fight in a year would prove tempting for Thurman should he face the winner.

Or he could turn to the WBO champion in Filipino Legend Manny Pacquiao, whose April 23rd bout against Amir Khan is still without a venue.

Before any thoughts of another unification however, Lamont Peterson is likely to be announced as the next mandatory challenger for Thurman. Peterson, who picked up the WBA (regular) belt recently by beating David Avanesyan, would prove a tricky test for the new unified king.

The possibility of Thurman moving up to 154 would not be out of the question either. The champ looked bigger and stronger in comparison to Garcia on Saturday, and it would seem like he would have little trouble making the 154 limit. If he chooses to do so, a huge fight against Saúl Canelo Álvarez or Erislandy Laracould present itself.

Whatever Thurman decides do, he has put himself in a position of power and there are endless options open to him. He is the number one in the division and the route to welterweight supremacy will go through him.

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Garcia v. Thurman: Was it truly a “Super-Fight”?


Garcia v. Thurman: Was it truly a “Super-Fight”?
By: Matthew N. Becher

​Now that the dust has settled and the fight has been fought, we can look back and ask if this weekend’s fight between Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman deserved to be called a “Super Fight”. Thurman came away with his undefeated record still intact and left with both the WBA welterweight title (his going in) and the WBC title (Garcia’s). It was a relatively easy fight to score, but left us with little to remember, but could it still be considered a “super fight” with other aspects considered?

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Photo Credit: Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment

​First it definitely had the pre-fight night parameters to be considered in the spectrum of the all-time big name fights. You had two fighters (Garcia and Thurman) who are both in their prime age, both are undefeated and both have championship titles (Garcia in two weight classes). The stage was set for a big fight, the biggest two names in the same ring that Premier Boxing Champions have put together so far in their history. It was being compared to that of Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, who fought in September of 1981, 36 years ago. They were both also undefeated at the time and both fighting for the WBC/WBA welterweight titles. That is a fight which people still replay and talk about. That is a fight that echoes the lines of the great trainer Angelo Dundee, who repeatedly yelled at Leonard in the corner “you’re blowing it son”, as a tired Ray Leonard fought his way back to end up knocking out Hearns in a round that no longer even exists in today’s boxing world. So, yes, in the pre-fight promotion and stats, it was a “super-fight”.

​Second. The ambiance of the venue and the fans was the biggest that the Barclays Center has ever seen. Every fighter, outside of Mayweather and Pacquiao were in attendance. From Bud Crawford to Amir Khan to Andre Ward to Lennox Lewis to every PBC fighter was ringside. Celebrities were all around, heck the Golden State Warriors basketball team (who were in town to play the NY Knicks the next night) were sitting in section 124 to catch the fight. It was packed. The overall attendance was 16,533, which is the record for a boxing match at the Brooklyn Arena, and it broke the previous record by over 2,000 people. The atmosphere was incredible. People were excited, people were showing up, people were talking boxing. So yes, in the overall setting of the fight, it had all the feelings that you were at a “super-fight”.

​Next came the financials of the fight.

Tickets were all sold out. Numbers haven’t been announced as of writing this, but the live gate must have been close to $1.2-1.5 million which would also be a records for that arena. Each fighter made $2 million apiece and the overnight network numbers were a 2.2, which meant a lot of people were home watching the fight on primetime on CBS. This is a big deal for boxing as a whole, a way to get fans back to tuning in to the sport. This checks out as a “super-fight”.

​Then finally, the fight itself. Two undefeated champs. Two guys that were groomed, not only as boxers growing up to become world champions, but by their same promoter to shine on this stage. They didn’t do what they needed to do, for the sport. Thurman won, and you cannot take that away from him. He fought smart but timid. He did what he needed to do to win. Garcia found some kind of rhythm towards the end of the fight, but it was already too late for him. Neither man fought to entertain though, they fought to just get enough to win. It was relatively boring. Booing sporadically took place during the middle of the fight. And for that reason, it will never be remembered, it will not be re-watched, after a couple weeks it will probably not be talked about. That is why it was not a “super-fight”. They had all the boxes checked, except the one that really counted.

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PBC on CBS Results: Thurman Bests Garcia, Lubin Stops Cota


Pbc on CBS Results: Thurman Bests Garcia, Lubin Stops Cota
By: Sean Crose

The biggest fight on network television in decades went down Saturday night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. WBA welterweight champ Danny Garcia took on his WBC welterweight peer Keith Thurman in a unification battle of undefeated titlists.

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Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

The opening bout featured Jorge Cota 23-1 against rising star Erickson Lubin 17-0. The first round started off tentative with neither man showing a willingness to let loose. The second showed each man trading a bit, but the battle remained close. Lubin landed with purpose in the third and in the early fourth Cota was on his bicycle. It did him no good. A single left hook sent Cota down and out at around the halfway point of the round.

After a small eternity – which isn’t good for a network broadcast – it was time for the main event. The crowd was clearly behind Philadelphia’s Garcia, 33-0, but Clearwater, Flordia’s Thurman, 27-0-1, appeared cool as ice. The first round was pretty explosive with both men landing exceedingly hard. Thurman was aggressive from the opening bell, but Garcia held his own.

Thurman was aggressive in the second, as well, but Garcia was able to land hard and was also able to maintain his cool. Garcia subtly became more aggressive in the third and Thurman began slowing down his output. In the fourth Thurman was able to glide through at the end, though Garcia was striking the body well. Thurman controlled the fifth for the most part, but Garcia came on strong at the end.

Garcia landed hard and with frequency in the sixth, taking the round. Thurman grinded his way through the seventh, a round where Garcia was warned for low blows. Thurman continued to dominate through the eighth, but Garcia was still very much in the bout. Thruman ruled the tenth and looked to be pulling away. Not that it was an easy affair for the Clearwater native. Garcia slugged his way into taking the tenth.

Thurman cruised through the eleventh…perhaps too much. I had him winning the round by the skin of his teeth, but it may well have gone either way. It was time for the final three minutes. Garcia landed enough that I gave him the last chapter. Still, it appeared that Thurman had done enough to take the fight by a comfortable margin.

Needless to say, Thurman won by split decision. It was fair, but the fight was indeed close. Garcia was game, but came up short. Thurman looked excellent.

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PBC on CBS Preview: Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia, Erickson Lubin vs. Jorge Cota


PBC on CBS Preview: Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia, Erickson Lubin vs. Jorge Cota
By: William Holmes

On Saturday night one of the best fights that could be made in the welterweight division will happen at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York as Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia will meet to unify the WBA and WBC welterweight titles.

This is a fight that many fans have been salivating over.

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The co-main event of the night will be between Erickson Lubin and Jorge Cota in a WBC Junior Middleweight eliminator. The undercard that will not be shown on CBS will feature high level boxers such as Andrzej Fonfara, Chad Dawson, Mario Barrios, and Heather Hardy.

The following is a preview of the televised CBS card.

Erickson Lubin (17-0) vs. Jorge Cota (25-1); Junior Middleweights

At first glance this fight appears to be a competitive fight.

Both boxers are still relatively young and have good records. Lubin is twenty one years old and eight years younger than Cota, but Cota is still below the age of thirty. Both boxers have very good records with only one loss between them.

However, a closer look reveals that Lubin is the better prospect of the two.

On paper, Cota appears to be the stronger puncher of the two. He has twenty two knockouts for a stoppage ratio of 85%. Lubin has twelve knockouts with a stoppage ratio of 71%. However, Cota has fought nearly his entire career in Mexico against less than stellar opposition.

Cota’s only big win came against Yudel Johnson in 2015, which was his only bout in 2015. Cota had zero bouts in 2016. Cota was defeated by Marco Antonio Rubio.

Lubin has defeated the likes of Juan Ubaldo Cabrera, Ivan Montero, and Daniel Sandoval. Lubin has never tasted defeated and was the 2012 US National Police Athletic League Gold Medalist as well as a former Golden Gloves gold medalist.

Lubin has also been considerably more active than Cota. Cota has only fought once since 2015, while Lubin fought five times in 2015 and four times in 2016.

This is a showcase fight for Lubin to get a win against an opponent with a good record but an empty record.

Keith Thurman (27-0) vs. Danny Garcia (33-0); WBC/WBA Welterweight Titles

Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia will fight to determine who is the best welterweight boxer in the world, outside of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

And maybe outside of Kell Brook and Errol Spence Junior. And maybe outside of Timothy Bradley Jr. and Terence Crawford if he ever decides to make the jump up to 147.

But regardless, this is an excellent fight between two undefeated boxers that are twenty eight years old. They are both known for having some power, as Thurman has stopped twenty two of his opponents and Garcia has stopped eighteen of his opponents.

The winner will have two belts in the division and will also put themselves in a good position to face Floyd Mayweather Jr., if he were to ever end his retirement and not fight a UFC fighter.

Thurman will be giving up about one inch in height to Garcia but will have a slight half an inch reach advantage. Garcia has been slightly more active than Thurman and fought twice in 2016 and in 2015. Thurman fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015.

Both boxers had good national amateur careers. Thurman was a runner up in the US Olympic trials and Garcia was a US National Amateur champion.

Both boxers have an impressive list of defeated opponents. Thurman has defeated the likes of Shawn Porter, Luis Collazo, Robert Guerrero, Leonard Bundu, Jesus Soto Karass, Diego Chavez, Jan Zaveck, and Carlos Quintana. However, Thurman has not had a KO or TKO victory in his past five fights.

Garcia has won three of his past five fights by stoppage and has defeated the likes of Samuel Vargas, Robert Guerrero, Paulie Malignaggi, Lamont Peterson (questionable), Mauricio Herrera (questionable), Lucas Matthysse, Zab Judah, Erik Morales, Amir Khan, and Kendall Holt.

This is a tough fight to pick and both boxers have been able to come up on the winning end of some close decisions. Thurman however is more comfortable fighting in the welterweight division and doesn’t have the gift decisions that Garcia has.

It will be a close fight and could go either way, but Thurman has a slight edge going into Saturday night.

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Trust the Process: Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman


Trust the Process: Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman
By: Kirk Jackson

March 4th, Saturday night at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York, the world will witness history.

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We will witness a clash between two undefeated welterweight champions in a unification championship bout.

The participants are Keith “One Time” Thurman 27-0 (22 KO’s) the current WBA welterweight champion vs. Danny “Swift” Garcia 33-0 (19 KO’s) the current WBC welterweight champion.

It may seem blasphemous to some, comparing this fight to the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns, Leonard again vs. Roberto Duran, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton, Pernell Whitaker vs. Julio Caesar Chavez, among many other significant welterweight bouts.

But like many of the great welterweight match-ups just listed, this is a fight featuring two elite fighters and in this case, they happen to be undefeated and in their physical primes.

This fight also happens to be on free network television via CBS-Showtime. Just like the good ole days. And like the good ole days, this should be a classic.
Garcia and Thurman are among the elite fighters of the sport and in one of the deepest divisions in boxing.

Garcia should be on the top pound for pound list based on his levy of accomplishments; his achievements exceed those of Vasyl Lomanchenko, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez – guys who are on the pound for pound list.

If Thurman is to defeat Garcia, he certainly will have earned a spot on the p4p list in his quest to unify the welterweight titles and of course this will change the outlook of the entire division.

The winner can make legitimate claim as the premier guy of the division and potentially (fingers crossed) lure the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley or the winner of Errol Spence vs. Kell Brook in the ring next.

Regarding this fight, Thurman is slightly favored and here is why.

Thurman is known for his explosive punching power. He lives by the phrase “KO’s for life,” even if he doesn’t always deliver the knock out.

But along with his piercing power, he is also a very good boxer, with outstanding athleticism. He is very intelligent and when he decides to use the jab, his jab serves as a great range finder and helps him defensively as well.

He’s no Pernell Whitaker by any means but knows how to slip a punch.

When he can’t get the knockout, he has no qualms about scoring points and winning by decision. This will be a fight of adjustments; ability Thurman displayed in bouts against Shawn Porter, Leonard Bundu and Diego Chaves.

Another important factor is Thurman is the bigger man. He started his career back in 2007 as a junior middleweight (154 lbs.).

“I’ll never back down. I’m bigger than Danny naturally,” said Thurman.

“He was always smaller than me in the amateurs. He’s smaller than me in the pros. He’s moving up. He might hold his weight well but I’m just a little bit bigger.”

Great points emphasized by Thurman and if the fight wears on when they meet Saturday, it’s easy to see how this may favor the bigger man. Thurman will have to force his weight on Garcia and let him know he is in the ring with a full-fledged welterweight.

“Boxing is all about is making history,” Thurman says.

“That’s my ultimate goal is to not just make a living for myself, not just live my American dream and accomplish my goals as an athlete but my ultimate goal has been, ever since I was a child, is to make history in the sport of boxing.”

Garcia aims to end the streak of L’s for his fellow Philadelphia brethren.

From the sports spectrum, the Philadelphia 76er’s have been abysmal since the Allen Iverson days, the Philadelphia Eagles are rebuilding and the Phillies are almost a decade removed from their last World Series.

Philadelphia Hip-hop artist Meek Mill is still in recovery mode from the Drake debacle and the ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins finally called it a career after losing to Joe Smith.

In essence of carrying on the tradition of the underdog and displaying the fighting spirit of a blue-collar city like Philadelphia, Garcia once again has his opportunity to prove the critics wrong.

“It feels good to represent my city,” says Garcia. “This is what Philadelphia fighters are all about. We rise to the occasion. I’ve been doing it my whole career.”

He was counted out against Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Erik Morales and now Keith Thurman.

Garcia’s name and reputation was ruthlessly dragged through the mud (some criticism valid) for his opponent selection, questionable decision victories and overall ring performances.

But leading up to this point, the most important fight of his career and an important fight that will change the landscape of the welterweight division, there is a method to this madness.

To borrow a phrase made popular by Philadelphia 76er’s rookie sensation Joel Embiid, “Trust the process.”

One of the biggest perceived advantages many believe Thurman has over Garcia is his size. Garcia has prepared for this moment dating back the last two plus years.

The fight against Rod Salka was above the 140 lb. limit – Garcia’s first fight above the junior welterweight division. Albeit against terrible opposition, this was a barometer for Garcia to see which direction his career would go.

He struggled making the weight due to his body growing over time – which may have negatively affected his performances.

It’s a part of boxing, it happens.

An eventual move up had to take place.

With that realization, Garcia and his team moved up in weight gradually, at a calculated, measured pace, in spite of criticism from fans and boxing writers.

Even though there are plenty of fighters throughout the course of history who had soft touches in between major fights.

For those not old enough to remember the soft touches countless legends of yesteryear had, Google and Boxrec are helpful.

Back to Garcia, part of his process was fighting Lamont Peterson at 143 lbs., fighting Paulie Malignaggi and Robert Guerrero at welterweight, etc.

Gradually upping the weight and the level of opposition, staying active, getting acclimated to the weight, growing into the weight and leading to this moment.

Garcia states, “There’s a lot of pressure on me to be the best. That’s what keeps me focused.”

“I think about the eyes that are going to be on me and I have to go in there and look my best. These kind of fights really bring out the best in me.”

Garcia has a great chance to win but he must implore and stick to a brilliant game plan.

A noticeable weakness for Thurman is the body and he leaves himself open for right hand counters. Shawn Porter and Luis Collazo noticeably hurt Thurman to the body and Jesus Soto-Karass caught Thurman with a straight right hand and staggered Thurman.

He is still an excellent fighter, but these are weaknesses Garcia will aim to capitalize on.

Garcia is typically a slow starter and it will take him a few rounds to get used to the speed and explosiveness of Thurman.

Thurman hinted at using lateral movement and intelligence to control this upcoming fight. With that in mind, Garcia will cautiously have to find his range and establish his rhythm before unleashing his patented left hook.

While finding his range, Garcia will have to jab and feint his way into position to better avoid Thurman’s incoming punches.

Thurman, can dispose his jab and control range; use it as offense to set up right uppercuts, right crosses and he can even use it as a defensive weapon as well. One of Thurman’s best punches is his quick, step-back, left check-hook counter.

Establishing a successful jab will allow for Thurman to hook off his jab and switch his attack up. In essence, the jab is a crucial weapon for both fighters.

Thurman has to be weary of not throwing a lazy jab because Garcia is an excellent counter-puncher and his right hand over the top of Thurman’s jab will be a deadly weapon.

Garcia is known for his left hook power; Amir Khan can attest to it. But people are sleeping on his sneaky right hand – whether it’s a right hand counter over a jab, a looping hook-like counter or a laser straight right hand lead punch as he displayed against Zab Judah, Guerrero and others.

The devious right hand can be a punch Thurman doesn’t see coming.

The advantages Thurman holds with athleticism and explosiveness can be offset with the technical ability, timing and the well-roundedness of Garcia.

Garcia is more compact offensively; he stays calm under pressure and is better on the inside. He has the propensity to dig shots to the body; whether its left hooks or straight right hands to the body, expect him to create openings and find a way to land effective shots.

Breaking down the body will also take the steam off of Thurman’s power punches. Remember, Thurman hasn’t scored a knockout since Soto-Karass back in 2013.

When you step in class and face a higher tier of fighter, knockouts are more difficult to score. Garcia withstood punches from Matthysse who was regarded as one of the top punchers of the sport.

If we look at how Errol Spence annihilated Leonard Bundu, it’s fair to question the extent of Thurman’s power. Yes it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but it’s plausible we may see this encounter go the distance.

This will be a fight of adjustments. Garcia excels at in fight adjustments; he fine-tunes his approach according to opponent and can make mid-round modifications with his ability to counter-punch as well as catch and shoot.

Thurman never fought from behind, Garcia has and it’ll be interesting to see if Garcia can force Thurman into some kind of deficit to test how he responds.

The spotlight and the occasion should not be too big for either fighter. Garcia has a history of rising to the occasion and Thurman displayed the same with his last fight against Porter. Both fighters appear to embrace the bright lights and the attention.

Garcia fights to the level of his opposition and the greater the opposition, the better he performs. This should be an excellent fight this weekend, Garcia’s right hand counters and his tendency to go to the body may be the difference.

“This is something that the fans are excited about and I’m truly looking forward to this fight,” says Thurman.

“I just want to keep living my dreams and working to become the best fighter in the world.”

We’ll see if Thurman can continue his path to achieving eternal greatness, or if Garcia can live up to his aspirations to unifying the titles in his second division.

“There’s no better feeling than unifying the title. I did it at 140 and now I have the chance to accomplish my goals at 147. It’s up to me to take advantage of it.” Garcia said.

Final Prediction is Garcia by majority decision.

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What’s To Be Done About Angel Garcia?


What’s To Be Done About Angel Garcia?
By: Sean Crose

What can be done with the likes of Angel Garcia? The father and trainer of WBC welterweight champ Danny Garcia has proven himself to be a menace to the sport of boxing. Sure, you can say the word menace is hyperbole, but how else to explain a man who disrupts a major press conference with vitriol and behavior that, to the untrained eye at least, appears less than stable? That’s the thing about the elder Garcia – he’s either a complete ass or he’s unstable. There really is no in-between. And frankly, neither option is acceptable in the public sphere.

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Truth be told, it’s painful to write about the man in this age of political correctness run amok. At a time when there is a serious belief that the First Amendment is a bad thing instead of the key to freedom it is, the last thing reasonable people should want to do is criticize someone for speaking out. Yet the elder Garcia gives us no choice. Yes, he has the right to say what he wants. No one (or, at least not this author) is arguing that fact. Yet people also have a First Amendment right to call him out for acting in a wildly inappropriate manner. And yeah, the WBC has a right to ban the man from further press conferences, as well as from his son’s corner in WBC sanctioned fights.

In all honesty, I’m still not sure exactly what Garcia was getting at when he went wild at last week’s press conference to announce the welterweight title unifier between his son and the undefeated Keith Thurman. Nor do I know if the man made sense or not. I heard a lot of derogatory stuff, though. I also saw the guy totally obliterate a major press conference that, for all intents and purposes, should have been very good for boxing. Garcia-Thurman is a major bout to be aired on network television in primetime, after all. In other words, it’s just what boxing needs.

What boxing most certainly doesn’t need is a major participant, peripheral or not, engaging in antisocial behavior in a public setting. Mike Tyson’s well documented meltdown hurt the sport – believe it. While the “Iron Mike” of the late 80s through early 90s brought the sport intense interest, the later, ear-biting, vile talking Tyson turned fans off. In other words, the sport can’t afford an unhinged Angel Garcia. Sanctioning bodies, networks and even analysts have to be responsible here.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that things like trash talk need to go by the way side. You don’t have to be a fan of what used to be called talking smack to understand its effectiveness. Trash talk is, after all, psychological warfare. And psychological warfare has been a part of boxing since at least 1890s, when it was practiced by “Gentleman Jim” Corbett. There’s a difference, though, between trash talk and legitimately chaotic behavior. Boxing is chaotic enough. If anything, more order is needed, not less. If he’s able to appreciate the difference, the senior Garcia should grasp the fact that hyping a fight and pissing off decent society are two entirely different things.

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Angel Garcia Melts Down In Rage Filled Rant At Thurman-Garcia Press Conference


Angel Garcia Melts Down In Rage Filled Rant At Thurman-Garcia Press Conference
By: Sean Crose

It was meant to be a celebration of a big deal. For WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia was at a press conference with his team to announce an upcoming bout with WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman live from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn on CBS March 4th. That, friends, is quite the news, for this will be the biggest match to hit “free” television since before Larry Holmes faced Carl Williams over thirty years ago. People are already saying the ratings for the fight might be through the roof for a boxing match. In other words, there’s excitement in the air.

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Unfortunately, Garcia’s father and trainer, Angel Garcia went on a nearly incoherent rant while Keith Thurman was at the mic. Even before then, however, he had made his presence known by announcing that “two white boys and a hippie” couldn’t defeat his son in the ring (clearly, he was referring to the free spirited Thurman and his team). That edgy bit of PR, however, was nothing compared to what he had in store seconds later. Not since the meltdown of Mike Tyson has this particular writer seen anything like it. Think Conor McGregor in what might be a near psychotic rage and you get the general idea.

In truth, I don’t even really know what the elder Garcia said. The acoustics were all off at the Barclay’s, where the press conference was being held, to begin with. Angel’s hoarse voice yelling and antagonizing through the sound system made the words he was uttering a bit hard to decipher. The “N Word” was mentioned, as, I think, were some words on immigration. The elder Garcia also had what seemed to be some pro American things to say, though, again, I’m not sure what. Indeed, I don’t even know if the words he used to reference African Americans and immigrants were meant to be derogatory. I’m not trying to play nice here. I simply don’t know what the hell the guy was ranting about.

To be sure, the entire thing was completely off the wall. Boxing is a most decidedly un-PC sport. It’s one of the great things about it. Genuine respect can generally be found behind off the cuff bluster. That’s something boxing fans understand and appreciate. Crazed antagonism of the kind showed by Angel Garcia today, however, isn’t called for or needed. The dude really needs to chill out.

Having said that, the fighters themselves came across as gentlemen.

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Thurman-Garcia Is Great…But What About Afterwards?


Thurman-Garcia Is Great…But What About Afterwards?
By: Sean Crose

“That’s when they were fighters,” the man behind the counter said.

I had heard that line a million times before and had always, without exception, rolled my eyes at it. This time, however, it struck me. Why? Because the man behind the pizza counter loved boxing. Loved it. He talked to me about it all the time. He knew his stuff. And now he didn’t seem to love it anymore.

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And, honestly, why should he?

This was a guy who could remember Graziano fighting Zale, Frazier facing Foreman and Hagler battling Hearns, a man who could talk about Ali the fighter rather than just Ali the celebrity. In other words, he could remember a time when boxing actually had stars…because boxers fought their way to stardom. Those days are over – at least temporarily. They ended after Mayweather (who became a celebrity after beating De La Hoya) beat Pacquiao (who also became a celebrity after beating De La Hoya) in something of a snoozer.

Now we have Canelo Alvarez, whose biggest fight was a loss to Mayweather, and perhaps Gennady Golovkin, who Canelo literally gave up his title rather than face. Not exactly thrilling stuff. Meanwhile, across the street at the UFC, Ronda Rousey just brought down another seven figure pay per view event. Sure, she lost, but she lost coming back against a top opponent – after losing to a top opponent her last time in the Octagon.

Conor McGregor, the UFCs biggest star, fought thrice in 2015, twice against the rugged Nate Diaz – who beat him once, thank you very much – and once against the talented Eddie Alvarez. No tuneups. No showcase performances, just big fights against big names. Kinda like boxing used to be. Robinson lost to LaMotta, then came back to beat him just weeks later. Now Ward wins a controversial decision over Kovalev and shows no real interest in a rematch.

Of course, all is not bleak on the boxing horizon. There’s some big fights coming up this year – some of them consisting of Al Haymon fighters, no less. For this author, the best match is between Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman for a healthy chunk of welterweight supremacy. For here are two top men facing off. Sure, they’ve been thoroughly modern fighters in that they haven’t fought a whole lot lately (at least not much against other top fighters), but now we’re going to see who the best of the two is. Great stuff.

What will happen after that fight, though? Will both men move on to other exciting bouts, or will they both take more long term career breaks? The odds say they’ll take the career breaks, which is why boxing is hurting right now. Look, lots of time in the ring can lead to lots of serious damage, everyone gets that. There’s a difference, though, between self abuse and fighting part time.

And the era of part time boxers needs to end if the sport is ever to grow again here in the states.

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The Five Fights I Want to See in 2017


The Five Fights I Want to See in 2017
By: Eric Lunger

As New Year’s Day approaches, boxing fans can look back on the year that has been, and cast a longing eye towards the year to come. Here, in descending order are the top five fights I’d like to see in 2017, some already scheduled and some in the boxing fan’s dream world.

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5. Garcia vs. Thurman

​This bout is scheduled for March 4th in New York for the WBA and WBC welterweight belts, and I can’t wait. Danny Garcia (33-0, 19 KO’s) is a tough, talented, professional, Philadelphia fighter who has a number of big welterweight wins on his resume (Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, Paul Malignaggi). Keith Thurman (27-0, 13 KO’s) is coming off a sterling unanimous decision win against Shawn Porter in June, a bout that will rank high on many Fight of the Year lists. This is a true unification fight with two popular American fighters, and some genuine antagonism. I was in Philly for Garcia’s battering of Samuel Vargas, and the post fight antics (which I usual discount as so much theatre) between Garcia and Thurman seemed rancorous enough to be real.

​Garcia is fast, smart defensively, and adaptable in the ring. He can land from unexpected angles, especially his left hook. Thurman is powerful, athletic, and always coming forward. I think this combination of styles will present a great fight, and the unpredictability of the outcome makes this an edge-of-the-seat contest.

4. Ward vs. Kovalev II

​This bout is in the “dream, but likely” column. The first fight was a tactical brilliance by Ward, a fight for aficionados. Reasonable fans and observers can certainly disagree on the judges’ cards. I felt that Kovalev was ahead going into the last three, but was not active enough to win those rounds. Nonetheless, fight fans would love a second dance, which might also allow the promoters to garner a larger national audience and tap into the general sports fan base. Andre Ward is a fantastic fighter, and a compelling human being outside the ring. Couldn’t he be the face of American boxing in the post-Mayweather era?

​Strangely, Ward has been making noises on social media about retiring, though is not clear why. Maybe he’s serious about walking away, maybe he’s trying to goad Kovalev. Or perhaps this is just an odd (and misdirected) way of generating publicity for the rematch.

​There are some interesting questions that a Ward – Kovalev II could answer. Can Kovalev change his style, box more, or does he remain a pressure fighter, looking for a knock out? Can Ward rely on the judges a second time, or does he need to be more aggressive in the early rounds? How much does Kovalev’s frustration at the decision, and Ward’s seeming ambivalence about the sport, drive the outcome?

3. Rigondeaux vs. Frampton

​This bout is in the “dream, unlikely” category. Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO’s) is scheduled to fight Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KO’s) on February 25 on the Cotto vs. Kirkland undercard. Rigondeaux is putting his WBA junior featherweight title on the line, and I am excited to see the Cuban born fighter come in from the cold, so to speak. Rigo has been in boxing exile, with no one willing to face him in the ring (with the exception of Jazza Dickens of England), and no networks really willing to feature him. Rigo has had only three fights since 2014, but he remains a formidable figure in the sport because of his brilliant defensive footwork combined with devastating punching power. Of course, there are critics who find Rigo’s style boring, too cautious and defensive, not suited for the professional game. I am not one of them; I find Rigondeaux fascinating to watch – he’s certainly learned his lesson (that fans and networks want a more aggressive style) and I expect the Flores bout to be action-packed from the opening bell.

​Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KO’s) is slated to meet Leo Santa Cruz (32-1, 18 KO’s) in January for a rematch following the exciting and tense Frampton majority decision last time the two met in July of 2016. This is one of those 50-50 fights that make the lower divisions exciting to watch. Both guys are highly skilled and highly motivated. They respect one another, but they are both tough, action fighters. It should be a great bout.
​So, for Rigondeaux and Frampton to meet in the ring, many dominoes must fall in the proper order. Both fighters need to win, obviously, then Rigo needs to move up to featherweight (certainly a plausible move at this point in his career), and he needs to defeat Flores in a way that makes him marketable enough for Frampton’s team to be interested in the bout. And Rigondeaux has other targets in the super bantamweight division, such as Jessie Magdeleno (the WBO titleholder) and Jonathan Guzman (IBF).

2. Wilder vs. Joshua

​This bout I will optimistically put in the “dream, but possible” column.

Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KO’s) is wildly popular in the UK, and his upcoming April bout against Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 54 KO’s) will probably sell out Wembley Arena in London, and should do massive numbers on PPV. British fans are convinced that Joshua will dominate Klitschko, as they can’t imagine their hero struggling against anyone. I would not be surprised if the crafty and experienced Klitschko used his puzzling combination of pawing jab and clinch to confuse and disrupt Joshua. After his embarrassing loss to Tyson Fury in November of 2015, the Ukrainian champion will be more than motivated to bring his best game to London.

​However, if Joshua can get the win against Klitschko, he will capture the WBA and the IBF belts, and be the big stack at the heavyweight table. Between the other belt holders, Joseph Parker of New Zealand (WBO) and Deontay Wilder of the USA (WBC), Wilder is the much more compelling next step, should “AJ” be willing to make the leap. But there are other, complicating factors, namely that the WBA and IBF challengers, currently Luis Ortiz and Kubrat Pulev, might make more sense financially for Joshua and Matchroom Promotions, before they contemplate facing the dangerous Bronze Bomber.

1. Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez

​This is the big one – the Holy Grail for boxing fans. Oscar de la Hoya has promised on not a few occasions that the fight will happen in September, after Canelo has “had time” to move up to middleweight. I have always been a big Canelo fan, but his two wins this year – a big knockout against an undersized Amir Khan, and a not very entertaining dispatch of an overmatched Liam Smith – did not do much for his reputation among American fans. Right now there are rumors of a Billy Joe Saunders fight for Cinqo de Mayo weekend, but I would be stunned if Saunders actually climbed into the ring against the Cinnamon destroyer.
​And of course, GGG must stay undefeated, something Danny Jacobs will have something to say about. Their March 18 date in New York promises to be a great night. Madison Square Garden, practically a home fight for the Brooklyn born Jacobs, GGG with his own fan base in New York, his relentless Mexican style – these are the ingredients of a great show and a great boxing match. And let’s be perfectly clear: Jacobs is going to be a stiff test for the Kazak superstar. No one is Golovkin’s camp is overlooking Jacobs; both Golovkin’s and trainer Abel Sanchez’s comments in the media have exhibited nothing but high praise and meaningful respect for Jacobs. Fighters with the kind of power that Jacobs and Golovkin possess, they know that one punch can change the direction of any fight, and that nothing is for certain in this sport.

Nonetheless, the number one fight I want to see in 2017 is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. What fights are at the top of your list for next year?

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