Tag Archives: leonard

Modern Classics: Leonard-Lalonde

Posted on 06/24/2020

By: Sean Crose

Although the win was controversial, Ray Leonard’s 1987 victory over Marvelous Marvin Hagler established the former Olympian as a fighter for the ages. With names like Benitez, Hearns, Duran, and now middleweight king Hagler on his resume, there was no doubt that Leonard had made the leap from boxing star to boxing legend. Where was the man to go from there, though? Leonard was still a relatively young man when he bested Hagler, just 30 years old. After a year long retirement, Leonard decided he still wanted to fight. And so, Leonard had to find someone to face. 

His chosen opponent seemed as if he were the most unlikely foil imaginable. Donnie Lalonde was a tall, handsome, affable fellow from the Great White North. He may have looked like he belonged on a surfboard, but – like so many fighters – the Canadian had suffered through a tough upbringing. Now he was the WBC light heavyweight champion of the world. Leonard wanted that title –and he wanted another one, as well. For the WBC had a brand new Super Middleweight Title in the offering. Both titles, then, were to be on the line. Winning two titles in two weight divisions in a single night would be quite the feat for the already highly decorated Leonard, even if they were won against someone few outside boxing’s fan base had probably heard of. Yet Lalonde was no joke. What’s more, he was fighting for more than a 6 million dollar payday. For besting Leonard would, in a sense, make him a legend in his own right. 

With a height advantage of several inches, Lalonde surprised many by getting the better of Leonard when the two men met on November 7th, 1988 at Caesar’s palace in Vegas. Although he had to drop down to 168 pounds for the fight, the natural light heavyweight was actually able to send Leonard to the mat in the fourth. Leonard, knowing he had his hands full, got up and went to work. Needless to say, the bout had turned into an exciting battle. If Leonard had expected an easy night, he was sadly mistaken. In the ninth, it actually looked like Lalonde was about to close the show. In classic fashion, however, Leonard turned the figurative volume up to eleven, somehow managing to outpunch the bigger man before sending Lalonde to the mat. The brave Canadian got back to his feet, but it was too little, too late. A subsequent Leonard assault put Lalonde down and out. 

It had proven to be a tough night for the man they called “Sugar Ray,” but the fighter had emerged victorious, nonetheless. “Something happens when I get into the ring,” Sports Illustrated quoted Leonard as saying afterward. “That’s all the motivation I need.”

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Modern Classics: Leonard-Duran 2

Posted on 03/29/2020

By: Sean Crose

“It was bizarre to witness,” William Nack wrote, “so swift and devastating a collapse of a man’s name.” The Sports Illustrated writer was referring to a battle forever known by two single syllable words: No Mas. Whether or not Roberto Duran actually uttered those words in the eighth round of his welterweight title rematch with “Sugar” Ray Leonard, as it has been said he did, matters little. What matters is that Duran, the hero of Panama, the sporting legend, the defending WBC welterweight champion of the world – quit. It’s an ugly word, quit, but it’s an apt one to use when describing Duran’s refusing to fight on in the middle of a major sporting event. The boxer would eventually recover his good name – but that achievement would be years in the making. 

The second bout between Duran and arch nemesis Leonard went down on November 25th, 1980, less than six months after the two men’s stellar first battle in Montreal. Duran had won that first encounter, perhaps in large part because Leonard, an almost criminally skilled 24 year old tactician, decided to go toe to toe with one of the greatest brawlers in history. The strategy made for a fight for the ages – but it ultimately failed Leonard. After having Duran belittle both he and his wife leading up to fight, Leonard had to suffer the indignity of losing to man who had so little respect for him that he refused to touch gloves (a common show of sportsmanship) after the match had ended. In the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade, however, Leonard almost immediately took the painful experience of that night in Montreal and turned it into a life and career changing lesson. 

From now on, Leonard would do what he had to to win. The days of trying to beat an opponent at his home game were over. Leonard knew he could best Duran, and he wanted to prove it as quickly as possible. The rematch, then, was set for the following November in New Orleans. Dave Jacobs, Leonard’s longtime trainer, left his camp because he felt the newly defeated fighter needed a few soft touches before facing Duran again. But Leonard wasn’t having it, nor was legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, who returned to train Leonard in the rematch. Dundee wasn’t happy with Leonard’s decision brawl with Duran the first time around. This time he wanted his man to do what he did best – box. With the disagreeable taste of Montreal still fresh, Leonard was on board with the strategy. 
Duran, on the other hand, had ballooned in weight. He reportedly showed up to training camp over 170 pounds, which meant he had to drop almost 25 pounds in a matter of weeks. While Leonard had been staying fit after Montreal, and had even taken to altering his training for the rematch (there would be no going overboard in physical preparation for the second go-round with Duran), the defending champion had clearly decided to live the good life. What’s more, after finally making weight, Duran decided to eat like there was no tomorrow just before entering the ring to defend his title. Not that it may have mattered. When the opening bell rang at New Orleans’ packed Superdome that evening, Duran met a different Leonard than the one he had faced the first time. 

Not that the match wasn’t close. The ironic thing about Leonard-Duran 2 was the fact that Duran was very much in the fight. He was losing, though. Of that there was no doubt. For Leonard wasn’t standing and fighting this time. He was moving, moving his head, moving his feet, moving Duran. Peppering his man with a world class jab, Leonard – who this time was the challenger – asserted control through sheer ring generalship. Then the bill came for Duran.

After mocking Leonard, after harassing Leonard’s wife, after showing nothing but disrespect for an individual he should have respected, Duran had to live with the indignity of Leonard mocking him in the ring, in front of millions of people. It may have been payback on the part of Leonard. More likely, though, Leonard – knowing that boxing was as much psychological was it is physical – wanted to get in his man’s head. 

If that was Leonard’s plan – it worked.
Duran, the bully, had no idea how to deal with man of equal skill who clearly wasn’t afraid of him. Perhaps it was the humiliation. Perhaps it was all the food he had eaten . Perhaps it was simply a case of a tormentor not being able to ply his trade. Whatever the reason, Duran puzzlingly, inexplicably, stopped fighting in the closing seconds of the eighth round. The referee, understandably confused, tried to get the two men to engage in combat again, but Duran asserted he had had enough. Leonard, redeemed and once more a champion, went on to credit losing the first Duran fight with making him the legend him became. Duran, years later, finally regained the public’s respect through game efforts against the likes of Marvin Hagler, and a stunning late 80s title win against WBC middleweight champ Iran Barkley. The consequences of his quitting against Leonard, however, were long lasting and severe. “That’s it,” Duran’s trainer, the famed Ray Arcel, said after the fight. “I’ve had it. This is terrible.” He would never train Duran again, so upset was he with his fighter’s actions that evening. 

“What happens to the human mind?” he asked aloud in reference of Duran. “Who knows?”

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Modern Classics: Leonard-Duran I

Posted on 03/26/2020

By: Sean Crose

“When I get into the ring to fight,” Roberto Duran said, “I always give the best.”
There is little doubt that Duran gave “Sugar” Ray Leonard his best, and more, when the two met in Montreal on June 20th of 1980. Close to 50,000 people had gathered at Olympic Stadium to see two of the biggest names in sports, much less boxing, battle for welterweight supremacy. It’s hard to imagine anyone having been disappointed by the quality of the fight they ended up seeing. Unlike many superfights, Leonard-Duran I, was a matchup that lived up to its hype. As Sports Illustrated’s Willian Nack put it at the time, the contest proved to be “a magnificent, memorable combat between a boxer, Leonard, and a brawler, Duran.”

Leonard was the sport’s golden child, the heir apparent to Muhammad Ali. Having won gold at the 1976 Olympic Games, the handsome, likeable Leonard had gone on to win the WBC welterweight title from the great Wilfred Benítez just over six months earlier. His title defense over Dave Green the following March on live television made the Maryland native into even more of a star. If he could best Duran, Leonard would arguably be able to claim legend status by the young age of 24 – truly an impressive feat. 

Duran, however, was far from a slouch, something seasoned sportswriters were aware of. Although Leonard was the considerable betting favorite, many – if not the majority of – sportswriters picked Duran to win in Canada. They had good reason to be confident of their prediction, for Duran may well have been the greatest lightweight in history, a viscous, snarling whirlwind of fists and high energy whose skills managed to meet his anger. Having decided to move up to welterweight, he brought with him a record of 71 wins and only 1 loss. In all, he had fought well over twice as many opponents as the 27-0 Leonard had. 

What’s more, Duran was not to be denied. Carrying about a nastiness and volatility unnerving even by boxing standards, Duran had even gone so far as to harass Leonard’s wife in the leadup to the bout. It was as unsportsmanlike as it was unbecoming. Yet when the opening bell sounded on that cold, rainy June night in Montreal, Leonard inexplicably decided to fight Duran’s fight. Perhaps Leonard had let Duran’s harassment get the better of him. Perhaps he just had a need to prove himself. No matter what the reasoning behind it was, it proved to be a fatal decision. 

For Duran ended up walking out of the ring that evening with Leonard’s belt in his possession. Leonard ended up walking out with the first loss on his resume, courtesy of a unanimous decision by the judges in favor of Duran. That, however, only tells part of the story, for Leonard-Duran I was a war.

Leonard may have indeed made a mistake by fighting Duran’s fight, but the truth is, he almost pulled it off. Leonard nearly gave the Panamanian as good as he got. It was a thrilling affair, a fight for the ages. It also proved to be quite the learning experience for Leonard. He’d get his second chance against Duran less than six months later, and this time he wouldn’t be letting his mind wander from a winning strategy. 

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“Sugar” Ray Leonard Followed in the Footsteps of “Sugar” Ray Robinson

Posted on 01/02/2019

By: Ken Hissner

The greatest pound for pound fighter in boxing, “Sugar” Ray Robinson, was 85-0 (69) as an amateur with possible 2 losses under his given name of Walker Smith, Jr. His record was 174-19-6 (109) as a pro holding both Welterweight and Middleweight titles with a career spanning 1940-1965. His only stoppage defeat was challenging for the Light Heavyweight title against Joey Maxim when the outdoor heat got the best of him after thirteen rounds though ahead on all scorecards.

Robinson was trained by Soldier Jones, Harry Wiley and Pee Wee Beale. His managers were Curt Horrmann and George Gainsford. His residence was in Harlem, NY, while being born Vidalia, GA, in May of 1931. His death was in April of 1989 at age 67. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1981 and the IBHOF in 1990.

“Sugar” Ray Leonard was the modern day best pound for pound boxer in this writer’s opinion from 1977-1997 after winning the 1976 Olympic Gold Medal. At Olympics he defeated boxers from Sweden, Soviet Union, Great Britain, E. Germany, Poland (reversing a 1974 loss in Poland) & Cuba. He won the 1975 Pan Am Gold Medal. His amateur record was 145-5 (75) and inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985.

After the 1976 Olympics Leonard announced he was retiring from boxing. He planned to go to the University of Maryland. However, when his mother suffered a heart attack and his father was stricken by meningitis and tuberculosis, Leonard decided to turn professional to make money for his family.

As a professional Leonard held the WBC & WBA Welterweight, WBA Light Middleweight, WBC Middleweight, WBC Super Middleweight and WBC Light Heavyweight Titles. Inducted into the IBHOF 1997.

Leonard’s biggest professional wins were over Wilfred Benitez (Welter Champ), Roberto Duran (2 out of 3) (Welter), Thomas Hearns (also a draw) Welter champ, Ayub Kalule Jr Middle champ, Marvin Hagler Middle champ and Donny Lalonde Super Middle and Light Heavyweight champ.

Leonard won his first twenty-seven fights including winning the WBC World Welterweight Title in November of 1979. He defeated Dave “Boy” Green in his first defense before losing to Duran in a WBC Welterweight title defense in June of 1980. In November he won the title back from Duran. He made four defenses at welterweight.

Leonard stopped Ayub Kalule who was 36-0 for the WBA World Super Welterweight title in June of 1981 but never defended the title. Three months after a February 1982 title defense of his WBA and WBC title’s defense against Bruce Finch, 28-3-1, it was discovered Leonard had a detached retina. He wouldn’t return to the ring until May of 1984 (27 months) defeating Kevin Howard, 20-4-1, after coming off the canvas.

Leonard didn’t fight again for thirty-five months returning to the ring in April of 1987 to defeat WBC World Middleweight champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, 62-2-2, for his WBC World Middleweight title by split decision putting Hagler into permanent retirement.

In November 1987 Leonard moved up to win the WBC World Super Middleweight and WBC World Light Heavyweight titles from Donny Lalonde, 31-2. In June of 1989 he defended his WBC World Super Middleweight title with a draw in his rematch with Hearns, 46-3.

In December of 1989 in Leonard’s third fight with Duran he defended his WBC World Super Middleweight title for the second time with a decision win.

It would be fourteen months in February of 1991 when Leonard returned to the ring dropping back to Super Welterweight losing to WBC World Champion “Terrible” Terry Norris by decision. After six years and a month Leonard came back again losing by stoppage for the lone time in his career to Hector “Macho” Camacho, 62-3-1, in the fifth round. Camacho’s IBC Middleweight title was at stake. Leonard finished his professional career with a 36-3-1 (25) record.

Among his trainers were Angelo Dundee, Dave Jacobs, Janks Morton, Pepe Correa and Adrian Davis. His lone manager was Mike Trainer.

In became a HBO commentator from 1978 to 1990. From 2001 to 2004 he had a promotional company, SRL Boxing. In 2004 he became the host of the boxing reality series The Contender. He was born in May of 1956 in Wilmington, NC, and resided in Palmer Park, MD, throughout his boxing career.

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Can Adrien Broner Manage His Problem?

Posted on 04/20/2018

By: Kirk Jackson

Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner aims to secure victory this weekend against fellow former champion Jessie Vargas, in what may be considered a crossroads fight for each fighter.

The fight between Broner and Vargas headlines a spectacular ShowTime event, action-packed featuring other boxing stars such as Gervonta Davis, Jermall Charlo, Hugo Centeno and Jesus Cuellar respectively.

Oddly enough, the fight between Vargas vs. Broner is an underrated match-up and can potentially be one of the best fights of the year due to styles, skill -sets and stakes at hand for each fighter.

Often times Broner’s name is in the news whether he has a fight scheduled or during his off time. Controversy and headline news have no problems finding Broner.

Suggesting Broner has a colorful personality is an understatement; he exemplifies eccentricity and brashness. But to quote Broner, “AB is must-see t.v.”

Broner is an enigma; supremely talented from a physical, athletic stance and gifted artistically – (rapper and exceptional in the art of trash talk).

But at times, Broner displays senseless and idiotic behavior. He is the intelligent, gifted kid in class, choosing other routes aside from honing on his natural talent.

The major flaw or critique of Broner plaguing his professional career as a boxer is his lack of consistency. We can break down technical flaws, but most of his issues in the ring pertain to lack of focus and accountability.

That is the message Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe is attempting to convey towards the younger generation of fighters.

It’s fair to suggest, amidst the trash-talk and drama, who truly knows what goes on behind the scenes between Broner and the Mayweather Promotions camp. There may lie legitimate issues – and who’s to say who is at fault?

Or this could be publicity to promote the fight. Which may also be the case with Broner and Hip-hop artist Tekashi69?

Referencing back to the drama inside the ring, how many times will you hear in discussion about Broner and poor performances how he wasn’t focused, did not train properly or was dealing with outside distractions?

Viewing clips from Broner’s 25/8 documentary series on YouTube, Broner appears to be in great shape and up until fight week, was off social media and appeared extremely tuned in and focused in training.

This recent series of outbursts and conflict with fellow boxers, rappers and promotional executives alike perhaps is just that – PROMOTION.

Broner realizes the severity of this fight. If he loses, in spite of his personal and strong presence, he will not garner too many more opportunities in the fight.

Broner’s last fight against Mikey Garcia in the summer of 2017, Broner appeared in great shape as well. The issues with Broner are not physical.

He will be focused from a physical standpoint, his shortcomings inside the ring lie with mental issues. More specifically, the inability to let his hands go. This is boxing jargon for punching in combination.

One observing Broner’s career may suggest ever since his defeat against Marcos Maidana, Broner is less reluctant to throw punches in bunches.

But that’s not entirely true. Broner has never been a high-volume puncher. Broner picks opponents apart with accurate, fast, powerful pot-shot punches.

Broner was able to take his time and masterfully destroy opponents in the lower weight classes of super featherweight and lightweight due to the combination of his skills and size for each weight class.

Now Broner is in the higher weight classes at welterweight, he has to rely more on skill, technique and strategy; as opposed to physical strength and athletic advantages – which requires greater focus.

Oddly enough, the key to defeating both fighters may be through applying constant pressure. Based on interviews leading up to the fight, applying pressure is what Vargas will do.

As mentioned earlier, Broner is a natural counter-puncher and prefers to fight at slower pace, steadily dissecting opponents with blazing hand-speed, precise punches and maintaining a comfortable distance to operate.

Vargas aims to suffocate Broner with punches and break him and attack him mentally with pressure.

Will the addition of new head trainer Kevin Cunningham help Broner focus or is Vargas the problem solver?

This boils down to if Adrien Broner can focus at the task of winning, manage his problems, flush out outside distractions and implement the proper strategy to secure victory.

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Leonard Ellerbe: “Social Media’s Changed Everything”

Posted on 03/31/2018

“Social media’s changed everything,” Leonard Ellerbe told Boxing Insider. “I love it.” The CEO of Mayweather Promotions claimed that social media “gives fighters a platform.” Still, Ellerbe admitted “It’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse…so long,” he added, “as it’s used in the right way. as a promotional tool.” In his position at Mayweather Promotions, Ellerbe has had to watch over the career of problematic junior lightweight Gervonta Davis, who will be facing Jesus Cuellar on April 21st for the WBA world super featherweight title. “Hes got a lot to prove,” Ellerbe said the Baltimore native. “This is his second opportunity at a world title.”

Davis has been spending time with another fighter Ellerbe is quite familiar with, the one and only Adrien Broner, who has his own fight with Jessie Vargas on the same April 21st card. “I think we’ll see a different Adrian Broner in this fight,” said Ellerbe. “I think he’s just really focused on his trainer, which is a great thing…he knows and understands what Jessie brings to the table.” Ellerbe is well aware of the fact that Vargas knows what it means to fight on a big stage, having faced both Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. “Jessie’s a no nonsense guy,” Ellerbe said. “He’s used to the bright lights. I think it’s business as usual for him.”

Ellerbe was asked about the Canelo Alvarez scandal, particularly if he felt something was amiss when Canelo faced Floyd Mayweather in 2013. “No,” he said, “I’ve never had any indication or concerns about his (Canelo’s) preparations.” Yet Ellerbe admitted that Canelo’s failed drug tests were a very serious matter. “It’s…not good,” he said. “Not good or all. Any time your name is mentioned with PEDs it’s not good.” And what about the still scheduled May 5th bout between Canelo and middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin?

“The fight’s definitely in jeopardy,” Ellerbe claimed. “The Nevada Commission is the best commission in all of boxing. They follow the rules. They make good sound decisions led by Bob Bennettt. He’s a very fair guy. They’ll make the right decision.” Ellerbe’s personal opinion on the matter? “If he (Canelo) ingested knowingly, then he should be suspended for a very long time. If he didn’t, he should be cleared.” According to Ellerbe, performance enhancing drug use is something that’s definitely on his radar.

“The PEDs are an issue in the sport,” he said. “There’s fighters out there that are cheating that haven’t been caught yet. You see it in their performances. You see it with guys…before, they were big punchers and knocking guys out, then they haven’t had a knockout in years.”

Leonard Ellerbe Updates on Gervonta Davis + Adrien Broner focused for Jesse Vargas

Part 1 of @Jeandra LeBeauf's chat with Leonard Ellerbe on Gervonta Davis, Broner's upcoming fight against Jesse Vargas and his current focus.

Posted by BoxingInsider.com on Friday, 30 March 2018

Leonard Ellerbe on Canelo's positive Test, PED use & if Floyd will return in September

In part 2 of Jeandra LeBeauf discussion with Ellerbe, they discuss Mayweather Promotions working with Canelo and if they ever suspected PEDs and whether or not Floyd will be be fighting in the Octagon in September.

Posted by BoxingInsider.com on Friday, 30 March 2018

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A Hagler-Leonard Story

Posted on 10/16/2017

By: Marley Malenfant

In my old man’s gym hangs a framed picture of Marvin “Marvelous” Hagler with the black and blue trunks, the trunks he wore in the fight against Sugar Ray Leonard 30 years ago.

Anytime I visit his gym and look at that picture, I think of my Pops sucking his teeth and said “that decision was bullshit. Hagler won that fight.”

The result of the fight is often discussed between my parents. Pops was ride-or-die with Hagler and my mom loved her some “Sugar” Ray Leonard, so they could never come to an agreement on who won the fight.
My Pops is from Rhode Island and always felt like Hagler was kin. My mother watched Leonard’s fights on TV before cable television monopolized the sport.

“The Green Hill boxing gym” opened in 2001. My pops called this part of the room the “wall of fame.” On the right is a framed picture of “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and “Sugar” Ray Leonard.

My parents met in the Army and boxing is likely what drew them together. While serving in the military, my old man was an amateur boxer.

Hagler, also a New Englander by way of Brockton, Massachusetts had this no nonsense image about him. In the build up to the Leonard fight, he wore a hat at a news conference with the word “WAR” embolden above the brim.

I think that’s what my old man liked about Hagler the most. Hagler disregarded his opponents.

New York Times columnist Phil Berger appropriately called him “Boxing’s Angry Man.” While I wouldn’t call my pops angry, I’d say he always approached boxing and training his students in a no bullshit way. My old man is like Julius (played by Terry Crews), the character that represented Chris Rock’s fictional father in the TV show “Everybody Hates Chris.”

Like Hagler, my pops grew up poor.

My old man saw Hagler as someone who made it out. More so than the power, skills and savagery that Hagler possessed, was the every-man feel that my pops and other fans admired.

Hagler came in each fight like therew was a repressed memory of a bully, and that bully did something awful to Hagler in his childhood and now he’s looking to take it out on whatever man is in front of him.

This is the behavior I sense from him but I had to watch Hagler-Leonard for myself again, by myself.

Hagler’s approach to most of of his fights was to remain mean. From the training camps and promotions, all the way through fight night, Hagler’s demeanor was bully-like. It was cartoonish, like the X-Men’s Wolverine or Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta.

Hagler once called his Cape Cod training camp “jail.”

Columnist Michael Katz wrote about how Hagler skipped seeing his wife and new-born baby daughter because it would make him too soft before his fight with William “Caveman” Lee.

“Nah,” replied Hagler. “I don’t want to kiss no babies. I gotta be mean.”

Anger can be a valuable psychological weapon in the ring but in this fight against Leonard, it held him back. Hagler started the fight in a conventional stance even though it was known that Leonard struggled with southpaws.

Hagler chased him all fight long and Sugar Ray’s clinch’s frustrated Hagler. He made Hagler badly miss what seemed like easy set ups for power punches, and he outworked Hagler by using his legs and speed and working the ring.

While Hagler muscled his way through Leonard’s flurries, Sugar Ray never panicked. His legs were tired but still battled and got off flurries and quick combinations on the stoic Hagler.

I scored the fight 115-114 for Leonard.

Sorry pops, but you can’t win this one. Mom was right.

She usually is.

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Boxing Insider Notebook: Mayweather, McGregor, Yafai, Barthelemy, Robinson, and more…

Posted on 05/17/2017

Boxing Insider Notebook: Mayweather, McGregor, Yafai, Barthelemy, Robinson, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 9th to May 16th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.


Lorenzo Fertitta Gives Blessing for Mayweather vs. McGregor

Lorenza Fertitta, former co-owner of the UFC, recently told TMZ that he supports Dana White’s plan to pay Floyd Mayweather $100 million and Conor McGregor $75 million if they fight and believes they deserve it.

Lorenza Fertitta, along with his brother Frank, invested $2 million into the UFC in 2001 and sold it for $4 billion in 2016.

Read more at http://www.tmz.com/2017/05/13/lorenzo-fertitta-ufc-mayweather-mcgregor/

B. Riley & Co. Presents the 8th Annual “Big Fighters, Big Cause” Charity Boxing Night Benefiting the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation


Sugar Ray Leonard and celebrity guests including Bill Bellamy (Event Host & Actor/Comedian), Bo Jackson (Former NFL/MLB Athlete), Chris Spencer (Actor, Black-ish), Cindy Crawford, Craig Robinson (Actor/Comedian), David James Elliott (Actor, Secrets and Lies), En Vogue (R&B/Pop Vocal Group), Holly Robinson Peete (Actress, Chicago Fire), Johnny Gill (Recording Artist), Judge Greg Mathis (TV Personality), Laila Ali Conway (Former Professional Boxer), Magic Johnson, Matthew Rutler, Mia St. John (Professional Boxer), Oscar De La Hoya (Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO), Rande Gerber, Rodney Peete (Former NFL Athlete), Sergio Mora (Professional Boxer), Terry Norris (Former Professional Boxer), Tina Knowles Lawson, Tommy Davidson (Actor/Comedian), and Usher (Actor/Recording Artist). *All attendees subject to change.


On Wednesday, May 24, B. Riley & Co. will present the 8th Annual “Big Fighters, Big Cause” Charity Boxing Night benefiting the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation at The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Hosted by actor and comedian Bill Bellamy, the evening will feature live professional boxing presented by Golden Boy Promotions. The live fights will begin at 6:30 PM through 9:00 PM and the main event of the evening features Kevin Rivers, Jr. vs. Mario Macias in a featherweight bout scheduled for six rounds.

The evening will feature a National Anthem performance by En Vogue, as well as a live & silent auction display, which will include iconic memorabilia and other one-of-a-kind items and experiences to benefit this important cause.

Additionally, the event will honor nine-year-old Jackson Blair with the 2017 Golden Glove Award for his extraordinary dedication and hard work to raise money and awareness for type 1 (T1D) diabetes.

Proceeds from the exclusive event will support the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation and their mission to fund life-changing research, care and awareness for pediatric type 1 & 2 diabetes and to help children live healthier lives through diet and exercise.

The 8th Annual “Big Fighters, Big Cause” Charity Boxing Night is presented by B. Riley & Co., a leading investment bank which provides corporate finance, research, and sales and trading to corporate, institutional and high net worth individual clients.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

4:30pm Media Check-in Begins
5:00pm Red Carpet Arrivals & Silent Auction Begin
6:30pm Fights & Live Auction Begin
Note: Fight Card Subject to Change
• Fight 1: Rafael Gramajo vs. TBA, Super Bantanweights for 6 Rounds
• Fight 2: Marvin Cabrera vs. Quantavious Green, Middleweights for 6 Rounds
• Fight 3: Luis Coria vs. TBA, Featherweights for 4 Rounds
• Fight 4: Kevin Rivers, Jr. vs. Mario Macias, Featherweights for 6 Rounds
7:00pm Welcome Remarks/National Anthem/Award Presentation
9:00pm Event Ends (approx.)

The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Rances Barthelemy Training Camp Quotes

Rances Barthelemy is set to face Kiryl Relikh in a WBA 140 pound title eliminator on Saturday May 20th on Showtime from the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. Below are a few select quotes from a recent press conference.
1) How is training camp going? How have you benefitted from sparring and training alongside of your brother Leduan and Yordenis Ugas and have their recent performances been an indication of how you expect to perform?

“Training camp is going really well. Training alongside of my brother and Yordenis under the tutelage of Ismael Salas is the best thing that could happen in my career. They keep me focused and motivated to get better every day. Yordenis and I have been helping each other during our camps, he’s an Olympic athlete so having him to train with is really beneficial. We have a new strength and conditioning coach as well who has us in the best shape possible. I know May 20 you guys will see the best Rances Barthelemy yet.”

2) What would it mean to you to become the first three-division world champion from Cuba?

“It would mean the world to me, after all that it took to defect from Cuba, the near death experiences, the imprisonments, leaving my loved ones behind, it would all have been worth it. I want to inspire the youth that come after me as well, let them know to never give up on their dreams no matter the conditions you live in or what the naysayers may say. Me winning a third world title and making history for a Cuban would prove that.”

3) What did you take away from Relikh’s loss to Ricky Burns?

“I didn’t get to watch the fight but watched the highlights and it seemed like a very entertaining fight. People were saying that it probably should have gone the other way even, so it seems like he put on a good performance.”

4) How would you characterize Relikh’s style and how do you see this fight playing out?

“He likes to come forward a lot and attack. I’m prepared for that if that’s what he plans to do come fight night but I also anticipate having to make adjustments. I always prepare to adjust to whatever my opponent brings. Being a cerebral fighter is a skill that has helped me succeed inside the ring.”

5) Can you address your 11-month layoff and how your training has been geared towards shaking off any ring rust you may have?

“There will be no ring rust come May 20 as we have been in the gym non-stop since my last fight against Mickey Bey. We took a few weeks off to visit Cuba for the first time since my defection. Aside from that I made sure to stay active and I’ve been training hard to be prepared when my name got called. The 11-month layoff happened for reasons out of my control. My management team has been trying to get the best opponents and unfortunately it took longer than we expected but we are here now and I’m as prepared as I have ever been.”

6) How did you trip back to Cuba come about and what was it like to be back in your home country?

“It was very emotional and a long eight years since I had been back. I didn’t know if I’d be able to go back or not. But I visited the Cuban embassy in Washington D.C. and they told me I’d finally be able to go back to visit my loved ones. It was nothing but nerves until I got over there. It was an emotional time and everyone welcomed me back with open arms in my hometown of Havana. It’s something I will never forget, especially for the way I was received.”

7) How do you rate your skills and progression as a fighter considering your last three dominant wins over top quality opposition? Do you feel that you are at the peak of your career?

“I am definitely at my peak physically, and I’m looking to match that on paper this year. I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring. I don’t like to rate myself, I leave that to the people and the media. They’ve taken notice and that’s why I am where I am today, but I am expecting big things to happen this year.”

8) Why did you feel it was time to rise in weight, especially considering the wealth of talent at 135 right now? Who do you consider to be the top 135 fighter now that you are gone?

“My body was asking for it, 135 was taking too much of a physical toll on me. It may not have been noticeable, but I struggled to make weight during my last fight at 135 and felt I lost some of my power because of the drainage. Since I moved up to 140 I definitely have felt a lot better. It was the right move. Plus, I now have the chance to go after a third world title in a third division, which would be the first time for any boxer from Cuba.”

9) Why did you make the decision to move from Miami to Las Vegas and how do you think it has benefited you?

“To be honest, there is nothing better for a Cuban than to be living in Miami, because the weather is just right and what we are used to. But at the same time it presents a lot of distractions too. So moving to the boxing hub of the United States is better for me so I don’t get wrapped up in anything extra other than boxing. Plus, there are so many sparring partners here and I can go up to Mt. Charleston and get my runs in up there.”

Oscar Escandon Training Camp Quotes

Top 126-pound challenger Oscar Escandon shares his thoughts on training camp and more ahead of his first world title opportunity against WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr. Saturday, May 20 on SHOWTIME from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Coverage on SHOWTIME begins at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT and features super middleweight contenders Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui battling for the IBF Super Middleweight World Championship plus two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy taking on Kiryl Relikh in a 140-pound world title eliminator. In the telecast opener, from Copper Box Arena in London, Gervonta Davis puts his IBF Jr. Lightweight Title on the line against Liam Walsh.

Tickets for the live event at MGM National Harbor, promoted by TGB Promotions, are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $50, and are now on sale. To purchase tickets go to http://mgmnationalharbor.com/.

Here is what Escandon had to say from Las Vegas before he wraps camp and heads east to headline at MGM National Harbor in Maryland:

On his recent training camp:

“Training camp started off in Gilroy, California where we got a lot of good sparring in the Bay Area. But then we moved camp to Las Vegas where we are training in high elevation. We are running up at Mt. Charleston where the elevation is 8400 feet. All in all, it has been a fantastic camp.”

On fighting in his first main event on SHOWTIME:
“It’s a dream come true to be fighting on SHOWTIME, especially in the main event for a world title. I believe the fans watching will enjoy my fighting style. I always bring excitement to the ring. This will be a fan-friendly fight to watch.”

On facing his opponent, champion Gary Russell Jr:
“Gary Russell Jr. is one of the best fighters in the division. I know it’s not going to be an easy task to defeat him but I’m confident in my ability to come out victorious. I will dig deep and impose my will on him.”

On training with head coach Ruben Guerrero:
“Together Ruben and I get along very well. He’s always there for me when I need him. We are doing everything to get better and we’ll be ready to go. We have a nice game plan that we will display on fight night.”

On what a victory will do for his career:
“This is the biggest fight of my career and a win will lead to bigger and better things, like unification bouts. To capture the WBC world title will be an honor for my team and my people of Colombia. I need to win this fight and capture that WBC title. I can see myself in major fights with a victory.”

Kal Yafai Retains WBA Flyweight Title with Decision Victory

On Saturday, Kal Yafai thrilled his hometown fans in Birmingham, England, and made the first the defense of the WBA Super Flyweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Suguru Muranaka.

The bout headlined another tremendous day of action AWE-A Wealth of Entertainment.

“I am thrilled to be able to bring this action-packed cards to the American fight fans,” said Charles Herring, President of AWE-A Wealth of Entertainment.

“In recent months, The super-flyweight division has been one of the divisions that has featured terrific fights, and today Kal Yafai proved that he is one of the elite in the division. Sam Eggington carried on the momentum of stopping Paulie Malignaggi, and won in another thrilling fight. We have a great Spring and Summer fight schedule that we will be excited to share with the fans very shortly.”

Yafai looked like he was going to have an early day as he sent his Japanese challenger down to the canvas in round two. Muranka proved sturdy and even had a few moments in the fight. Yafai was deducted a point in round eight for low blows, but he was comfortably ahead, and won by scores of 119-107 twice and 118-108.

Yafai is 22-0. Muranaka is 25-3.

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Who Was the Best P4P “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker or Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr?

Posted on 05/12/2017

Who Was the Best P4P “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker or Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr?
By: Ken Hissner

This writer has met “Sugar” Ray Leonard several times, Aaron “The Hawk” once and Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker once. I never met Floyd “Money” Mayweather. All are IBHOF inductees except Mayweather who has to wait five years after retiring before induction. He hasn’t fought since 2015.

Mayweather media day

As far as an amateur Leonard would be in a class of his own compared to the other three though Whitaker also won an Olympic Gold Medal but against lesser opposition.Leonard was from Palmer Park, MD.

Let’s take a look at Leonard first with an amateur record of 145-5 (75) winning the 1976 Olympic Gold Medal before turning professional on possibly the greatest Olympic team in the history of the Games. He won the 1975 Pan American Games the previous year defeating Cubans for both Gold Medals. He was inducted into the Olympic HOF in 1985 and the IBHOF in 1997 fighting from 1977 thru 1997 with a 36-3-1 (25) record.

In talking with Manny Steward who helped this writer judge 1976 vs 1984 Olympic teams we both agreed Leonard was a better amateur than a professional. Steward told me due to hand injuries as a professional. His manager was Mike Trainer and his trainers were Dave Jacobs, Janks Morton, Adrian Davis, Angelo Dundee and Pepe Correa.

Leonard won the WBC & WBA welterweight titles, WBA Junior middleweight, WBC’s middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight titles. Highlights winning world titles by stopping Wildfredo Benitez, winning two of three from Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, stopping and drawing with Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns, stopping AyubKalule, defeating “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and stopping Donny Lalondetwice.
Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, 39-1 (36), was from Cincinnati, OH. He was 204-16 in the amateurs winning AAU and Golden Gloves titles while being a Silver Medalist in the 1975 Pan Am Games and a 1976 Olympic alternate losing to future Gold Medalist and Van Barker winner Howard Davis. In talking to Davis over the phone I told him I thought he lost against Pryor in the Olympic Trials. He didn’t agree. Pryor won the 1976 Golden Gloves defeating Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns.

At the Pan Am Games in 1975 Olympic members Chuck “White Chocolate” Walker and Davey Armstrong agreed Leonard just got the best of Pryor in sparring in unforgettable performances by both.

Pryor was the IBF and WBA light welterweight champion. He was 35-0 and was inactive for 2½ years coming back and tasting his only career defeat to Bobby Joe Young then winning his last three fights. He fought from 1976 thru 1990. His most notable wins were over Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes, Dujuan Johnson and over Alexis Arguello twice.His manager was Buddy LaRosa and trained by Panama Lewis.

Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker as a professional was 40-4-1 (17), and as anamateur 201-14.In 1982 he was the Silver Medalist in the World Amateur championships reversing the loss by defeating the same Cuban for the Pan Am Games 1983 Gold Medal. The Russians and Cubans didn’t compete in the 1984 Olympics where Whitaker won the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal in the lightweight division.

Whitaker held the WBA, WBC and IBF titles as a lightweight and a light welterweight. His first attempt for the WBC lightweight title was his first career loss to Jose Luis Ramirez but defeated Ramirez the following year for his first world title. He defeated Azuma Nelson, Jorge Paez, BuddyMcGirt twice and drew with Julio Cesar Chavez. He lost to Oscar “Golden Boy” De la Hoya and Felix “Tito” Trinidad. He fought from 1984 thru 2001.

Whitaker was managed by Shelly Finkel while trained by George Benton and Lou Duva as a professional. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2007. He would become a trainer after retiring.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr.,was 49-0 (26), as a professional winning the WBC super featherweight, lightweight and light welterweight titles. He won the IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO titles as a welterweight and the WBA & WBC light middleweight titles.

He was managed by Floyd Mayweather, Sr., James Prince and Al Haymon. He was trained by Roger Mayweather, and Mayweather, Sr. He was promoted by Top Rank, Goossen Tutor Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions.

Mayweather was 84-8 as an amateur winning the 1996 Golden Gloves and the Bronze Medal in the 1996 Olympic Games. As a professional he fought from 1996 thru 2015.

In this writers opinion “Sugar” Ray Leonard was the better P4P boxer than the other three. What do you think?

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Why People Are Still Talking About The Hagler-Leonard Fight 30 Years Later

Posted on 04/06/2017

Why People Are Still Talking About The Hagler-Leonard Fight 30 Years Later
By: Sean Crose

In all honesty, I’m surprised the fight is still such a big deal. As the media of the time pointed out, it wasn’t the most thrilling affair. What’s more, the bout occurred just before the zenith of the Mike Tyson era. And while it’s true Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard were the two biggest names in boxing at the time, the magnificent age of pugilism they represented was clearly on the way out when the two men finally met in the ring on April 6th, 1987. Upon some retrospection, however, it makes sense that the Hagler-Leonard middleweight championship fight remains alive and well in the public consciousness to this day.


For those who don’t know, Sugar Ray Leonard was the darling of the boxing world, if not the entire sports world, from the late seventies, through the early eighties. A former Olympian with a winning smile and a skill set to burn, the man epitomized what it meant to be an all American success story. After winning the welterweight title back from the meanspirited Roberto Duran in classic stand up to the bully fashion, Leonard said he was happy to win the championship for America. He meant it. And in an era where patriotism wasn’t confused with xenophobia, that sort of thing meant something to the public.

Leonard’s polar opposite was Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The word Marvelous was actually part of his legal name. He put it in there himself (apparently Marvin Hagler simply wouldn’t do). A gritty product of Brockton, Massachusetts (which gave him a kinship with one Rocky Marciano) Hagler had to come up the hard way, through grueling affair after grueling affair. When the man finally won the middleweight title strap, the British audience who witnessed the fight live and in person tossed bottles into the ring. But Hagler wasn’t to be denied. He wasn’t showered with accolades, he earned them.

Yet it wasn’t until Hagler actually bested a rejuvenated Duran in a fifteen round war that attention was finally paid. And, after beating former Leonard nemesis and all time legend Tommy Hearns in what is still the greatest single sporting event I’ve ever seen, it was Hagler, not Leonard, who was on top of the boxing world. Where was Leonard? Well, eye problems had taken him out of the sport – at least for a while. For it’s said that after Leonard watched Hagler struggle against the valiant John Mugabi a year after the epic Hagler-Hearns bout, Leonard realized he could beat the man.

And beat Hagler Leonard did, in one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing and also of sports in general. Yet that’s not why the fight is still such a hot topic all these years later. There’s a lot more to the story than just that.

For many people feel Hagler got robbed that night, that the 12 round decision victory went to the wrong man. Yet that’s still not why the fight is such a hot topic in 2017. The real reason Hagler-Leonard resonates as it does three decades later is because a golden child bested a working class Joe in a way many found to be unfair. And that sort of thing can hit home.

Had Leonard knocked Hagler out, the bout would remain a classic – but it wouldn’t be seen as the giant enigma it remains to this day. Look at it this way: If Hagler had been awarded the decision that night instead of Leonard, the fight would still have been controversial, but it wouldn’t have irked as many people as it does now.

The fact that the match consisted of Hagler chasing Leonard around the ring while Leonard fired off quick bursts naturally made it open to interpretation.

In a lot of ways, a person’s opinion of the contest could very well be based on his or her preferred style of fighting. Those who like aggression would be inclined to give the nod to Hagler.

Those who like stylists, on the other hand…

This is simply one of those cases where a real consensus will most likely never be reached. Hagler retired after the bout, denying Leonard the chance to erase any question marks. In a sense, both Hagler and Leonard will forever be seen as they are in still photos from that night – frozen in time, engaged in combat, equals in all ways, save for individual opinions, the golden child and his blue color nemesis. It wasn’t a great fight, but it was most certainly a memorable one, in large part because many feel it was emblematic of life itself, a thing where the golden child forever emerges victorious, deservedly or not.

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Ronda Rousey Returns After “Biggest Upset in Combat Sports History”? Not By a Long Way

Posted on 12/30/2016

Ronda Rousey Returns After “Biggest Upset in Combat Sports History”? Not By a Long Way
By: Matt O’Brien

Friday night sees the long-awaited comeback of“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey following her shocking defeat to Holly Holm last November, in a result infamously described by UFC commentator Joe Rogan as, “the biggest upset in combat sports history”. Prior to her defeat,Rousey had demolished a string of 12 opponentswith only one of them making it out of the first round – a devastating record by any standard, and there’s no doubt that Holm’s knockout was a truly enormous upset, with the challenger overcoming odds of up to 12-1 against her.


That being said, it takes two people to make a fight, and the bookies’ published odds are not the only ingredient that goes into a big upset – the wider context of the underdog’s role is also vital. Ronda’s record was indeed formidable, but keen observers had noted that it could be a far more difficult task than anything she had faced before, with Holm being a former world-boxing champion and arguably the first bona fide world-class striker “Rowdy” had faced off against.

So while Rogan’s assertion that it was the “biggest upset of all time” might be right as far as UFC or even MMA history goes, once we include the sweet science the scale of Ronda’s defeat falls a few rungs down the list of “greatest ever upsets”. Here are five of my favourite shocks in boxing history that eclipse Holly Holm’s upset victory over Ronda Rousey:

1. James Douglas KO10 Mike Tyson, Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship, February 1990

This is the grand-daddy of upsets: not just the biggest upset in the history of boxing; not even the biggest upset in the history of combat sports. This one is arguably the biggest upset in the history of sports, period.

The reason for the scale of Douglas’ shock was twofold: firstly, “Iron” Mike was a destructive force the like of which had rarely, if ever, been witnessed before. Carrying an undefeated 37-fight record, all but four of Tyson’s victims had been knocked out, 17 of them in the first round. Tyson made a habit of making accomplished world-class boxers look like bunny rabbits caught in the headlights of a freight train. Secondly, Tyson’s awesome aura was set against Douglas’ far less-than-fearful persona. A competent yet unspectacular heavyweight, Douglas’ physique was rippled rather than ripped andhis style plodding rather than punishing.

Weeks before the contest though, Douglas’ mother had died, providing him with the kind of motivation and discipline he’d previously lacked. Meanwhile Tyson had fallen into the age-old trap of believing his own hype; his preparations consisted largely of hosting Japanese women in his hotel room and he was knocked down in sparring by Greg Page.

Even so, a listless Tyson was able to floor the challenger and almost pulled off a knockout victory in the eighth round. Douglas beat the count and continued to pummel the champion with a solid jab and powerful right hand. In the tenth, “Buster” unloaded a vicious combination punctuated by a huge right uppercut that sent Tyson sprawling. As he scrambled to put the gumshield back into his mouth, referee Octavio Meyran waved the finish and signaled the greatest upset in history, as the 42-1 outsider stunned the world.

*To his credit, Joe Rogan later admitted that this was actually a bigger upset than Rousey-Holm.

2. Evander Holyfield TKO11 Mike Tyson, WBA Heavyweight Championship, November 1996

It is a testament to Tyson’s fearsome aura and the magnetic grip he held on the public consciousness that six years after the Douglas defeat and following three years of incarceration, he was yet again considered invincible – despite Douglas’ evidence to the contrary. Tyson had demolished four challengers in just eight rounds since his release from prison, though he had yet to face anyone offeringmuch resistance. Frank Bruno looked scared stiff as he walked to the ring and Bruce Seldon put forward probably the meekest capitulation in the history of heavyweight championship boxing, surrendering in just 109 seconds. Evander Holyfield was a different proposition altogether, though few credited him with this distinction at the time.

Once again, the monumental scale of Holyfield’s upset was not just a measure of how highly Tyson was regarded – it also came from a foolish under-estimation of what “The Real Deal” had left to offer. A glut in recent performances in the ring, including a KO defeat to arch nemesis Riddick Bowe and a health scare regarding a heart condition had effectively erased memories of Holyfield’s fighting skills and warrior spirit.Many pundits argued that Holyfield was not just going to lose, but that he was in danger of being seriously injured.

The former champ opened as a 25-1 underdog, but his ironclad self-belief, granite chin and counter-punching strategy troubled “Iron” Mike from the outset. When Holyfield took Tyson’s vaunted power punches, retained his composure and kept firing back, it soon became evident that “the Baddest Man on the Planet” had no back-up plan. They say a picture tells a thousand words, but when Tyson was lifted off his feet by a left uppercut in the sixth round, far less than that were needed to describe the look on his face. Holyfield proceeded to administer a beat down until a dejected Tyson was finally rescued by referee Mitch Halpern in the eleventh round.

3. Hasim Rahman KO5 Lennox Lewis, WBC/IBF/Lineal World Heavyweight Championship, April 2001

Lennox Lewis had been knocked out before, but going into his fight with Hasim Rahman he was in the process of establishing himself as one of the most dominant heavyweight champions in history. He’d already made 12 defences over two reigns as WBC championand was making the fourth defence of the lineal and unified title he won against Evander Holyfield. He had also cut a swathe through potential heirs to the throne, blasting Michael Grant in two rounds and thoroughly outboxing dangerous New Zealander David Tua.

Unfortunately, Lewis had also spent time during preparation for his title defense schmoozing on the Hollywood film set of Ocean’s Eleven, while unheralded challenger Hasim “The Rock” Rahman grafted in the intense heat and high-altitude of a South African boxing gym.But while Rahman was a motivated and respectable contender, he’d done little in his career to indicate he posed a serious threat. Indeed, two years prior he had been brutally knocked out by Oleg Maskaev.

In the ring though, the difference in each man’s preparation showed, as a complacent Lewis blew heavily and struggled to assert himself. In the early rounds, there were warning signs that Rahman’s overhand right posed danger, but even so the end came suddenly and unexpectedly in the fifth round, as Lewis backed against the ropes and the 20-1 outsider unleashed a haymaker that landed flush on the jaw. The champion crumpled into a heap and minutes later was still in disbelief about what had occurred. To his credit, Lewis returned the favour when properly focused for the immediate rematch, knocking out Rahman in the fourth round to reclaim his title.

4. Muhammad Ali KO8 George Foreman, World Heavyweight Championship, October 1974

The 4-1 odds on Ali for this fight really don’t do justice to the monumental scale of the task he overcame on this momentous night. Foreman – much like Tyson years later – was considered to be an unstoppable force that had brutally manhandled some of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world. Joe Frazier, the undefeated heavyweight champion, conqueror of Muhammad Ali and one of the finest fighters the division had ever seen, was bounced around the ring like a rag doll and brutally stopped in two rounds.Ken Norton, a fighter who’d also taken Ali to the wire on two occasions (going 1-1 with The Greatest) was similarly dispatched by Foreman in less than 6 minutes.

In contrast, Ali was 10 years removed from his initial title-winning effort against Sonny Liston, had barely squeezed by Norton in their second fight, and looked sluggish in a dull rematch victory over Frazier.

A 32-year-old Ali offered his usual, charismatic, confident predictions before the bout, but few took him seriously, and even his own camp appeared to fear the worst. Norman Mailer described the atmosphere in Ali’s dressing room as, “like a corner in a hospital where relatives wait for word of the operation.” The dark mood failed to stop the irrepressible Ali, who boxed one of the most brilliant, bold fights ever witnessed to recapture the Heavyweight Championship and cement in his place in history with a truly unbelievable upset of epic proportions.

5. Ray Leonard W12 Marvin Hagler, WBC Middleweight Championship, April 1987

In 1982 “Sugar” Ray had retired following surgery to repair a detached retina, returning to the ring in 1984 in what should have been a routine victory over Kevin Howard, but announced his retirement again following the fight after suffering his first ever career-knockdown. Now, having only boxed once in five years, Leonard was moving up two weight classes from his favoured welterweight division to take on one of the greatest middleweight champions of all-time. It looked liked Mission Impossible on Viagra.

“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler hadn’t lost a boxing match since dropping a majority decision to Bobby Watts over a decade earlier, had won 13 consecutive middleweight title matches, and was ranked as the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by KOMagazine. It’s therefore a testament to Leonard’s star power that he opened only as a 4-1 underdog, and had even shortened these odds to 3-1 by the time of the fight. Among the “experts”, few gave the challenger a chance though, with 18 in a poll of 21 writers picking Hagler to prevail.

The eventual split decision in Sugar Ray’s favour is still bitterly disputed to this day. While there is a strong argument that Hagler did enough to win, there is no denying the success of Leonard’s psychological games, and the fact that he pulled one of the greatest examples of mind over matter in the history of boxing.

Honourable Mentions

The fights above comprise my personal favourite selection of huge boxing upsets greater than Holm’s defeat of Ronda Rousey, though there’s arguably a host of others than should make the cut. Here’s a brief selection of the best of the rest…

Randy Turpin W15 Ray Robinson, World Middleweight Championship, July 1951

Englishman Turpin probably caught the original “Sugar” Ray at the perfect time, as he came to the end of a busy European tour. Still, defeating arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time was a stunning achievement.

Cassius Clay TKO7 Sonny Liston, World Heavyweight Championship, February 1964

On paper the 8-1 odds were even steeper than when the older version of Clay [Ali] defeated George Foreman, as the Greatest “Shook up the World” for the first time in his amazing career.

Frankie Randall W12 Julio Cesar Chavez, WBC Super Lightweight Championship, January 1994

Chavez was lucky to escape with a draw against Pernell Whitaker four months earlier, but was still officially undefeated after 90 fights, 27 of them for world titles, and he entered the fight as a massive 18-1 favourite.

Max Schmeling KO12 Joe Louis, June 1936

The young, undefeated “Brown Bomber” was widely perceived as unbeatable, but the German had studied his style and exploited his weaknesses to great effect. A more experienced Louis destroyed Schmeling in a single round in their famous rematch two years later.

Lloyd Honeyghan TKO6 Donald Curry, Undisputed Welterweight Championship, September 1986

Curry was considered one of the elite fighters in the sport and was being groomed for super-stardom, but he was struggling desperately to make the weight limit. Meanwhile Honeyghan paid short shrift to the champion’s undefeated record and bet $5,000 on himself at odds of 5-1, shocking the bookies and the boxing world in the process.

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Style Analysis Sugar Ray Leonard v.s. Marvin Hagler

Posted on 11/20/2016

Style Analysis Sugar Ray Leonard v.s. Marvin Hagler
By: Sean Kim

The flow of Ray Leonard’s footwork in the face of a highly disciplined power puncher such as Hagler was the perfect instrument for achieving a dominant performance. What Leonard was able to employ brilliantly was a series of flurries to Hagler’s head all the while gaining quick victorious momentum right from the get go, partially thanks to Hagler’s odd choice of using the orthodox stance for the first two rounds.

Boxing Tribute – Marvin Hagler vs Sugar Ray Leonard

Leonard did not permit Hagler to engage in a combative boxing match. He refused to stand right in front of Leonard and face his opponent like James Toney. To commit to such a stance in front of someone like Hagler, whose timing and boxer-punching versatility was brilliant when his opponents stood before him, would have been the formula for self-defeat.

Even if some may say Leonard didn’t give Hagler a fight, Leonard geared his tactical contemplations towards objective analyses which were not dominated by emotion or pride but towards the end goal in all boxing matches: victory.

Hagler no doubt was able to give a highly spirited effort. Like Joe Frazier, Hagler refused to step back once. Though for a majority of the rounds he was ineffective in cutting off the ring (as say Gennady Golovkin or
Julio Cesar Chavez), some psychological advantages may have played in Hagler’s favor for the sake of the late rounds as Hagler threw multiple combinations as he pinned Leonard against the ropes.
This was a confrontation between two top-caliber boxer-punchers, but clearly, in such a clash between two masters of the sport, both Leonard and Hagler had to resort to their primary identities as a fighter: boxer and puncher respectively.

Just to bring in another boxer-puncher v.s. boxer-puncher match, this contrasts with the bout between Canelo Alvarez against Miguel Cotto. Though both were primarily aggressive brawlers before anything else, both were able to display great versatility in their choice of footwork angles, counter punching opportunities and timing of combinations.
How come Hagler could not pull off a versatile performance with Leonard?

Because Leonard was just simply the greatest boxer of his generation, whose footwork was unparalleled and the greatest witnessed at that time since perhaps Willie Pep. Leonard was completely comfortable in that ring for a majority of the fight. At one point even, during Round 5, Hagler managed to pressure Leonard to the corner while causing his opponent to momentarily stop his dance around the ring. But Hagler could not capitalize on this opportunity. Hagler threw inaccurately, perhaps psychologically frustrated up to that point by Leonard’s refusal to engage in a brawl while constantly evading him. At that moment in the corner, he also threw multiple southpaw jabs, but Leonard- completely relaxed and confident- was able to dodge them all with his hands down.

Hagler was at his finest during the last three rounds, when Hagler began to overwhelm Leonard with a multitude of combinations and successful jabs to Leonard’s head. The constant pressure paid off for that moment, causing for an incredible ending to what had essentially been a dominant chess match forced upon by Leonard. It was at that point that Leonard at last accepted Hagler’s invitation to a brawl. And did Leonard disappoint?

Not at all.

After all, Leonard wasn’t just a boxer with fanciful footwork. He had a fighter’s instinct who wished to knock out his opponents with overwhelming speed and aggression. Leonard may have been overwhelmed against the ropes strategically, but he was in no way momentarily caught in an inescapably dangerous situation. He basked in the moment and fought back with equivalent willpower and amazing speed.
Even during Hagler’s finest moment, Leonard did not permit him to win any rounds easily.

Leonard employed a masterpiece of footwork, timing, speed, reflexes, psychology and ring generalship while simultaneously displaying will and bravado.
This was perhaps his greatest performance.

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PBC on NBC Results: Spence Stops Bundu and Makes Himself the Mandatory for Kell Brook

Posted on 08/21/2016

PBC on NBC Results: Spence Stops Bundu and Makes Himself the Mandatory for Kell Brook
By: William Holmes

Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) was broadcast live from the Ford Amphitheater from the Coney Island Board in Brooklyn New York. It was a one hour special attraction and was broadcast immediately after the United States gold medal win in Olympic basketball and before the closing ceremonies.

The main event of the night was between 2012 US Olympian Errol Spence Jr. (20-0) and veteran boxer Leonard Bundu (33-1-2) in the welterweight division.


NBC wasted little time in getting right into fighter introductions and right into the fight.

Spence, a southpaw, was noticeably taller and longer than Bundu. He spent most of the first round sticking his jab in the face of Bundu and remained patient. He was able to land some hard hooks to the body, and handled a switch to the southpaw stance by Bundu in the middle of the round well.

Spence stayed steady with his jab in the second round and mixed it up with an occasional lead left hook and cross to the body. Bundu was having difficulty finding his range and had most of his punches blocked when he did get within range.

The clean punching of Spence continued into the third round; though Bundu was able to land a few short overhand lefts and hooks to the body. Spence was in almost complete control by the fourth round and was mixing up his body head combinations well. An uppercut from Spence in the fourth round knocked the mouthpiece of Bundu out of his mouth.

Bundu looked frustrated and a little desperate in the fifth round, but Spence remained calm and in control.

Bundu’s right eye was slightly swollen at the start of the sixth round and Spence picked up the pressure and aggressiveness and ripped some hard hooks into the body of Bundu. Spence scored the first knockdown of the night with an uppercut to the body on Bundu by the ropes that sent him crashing backwards. Bundu got back to his feet but was crumpled over backwards by Spence with a vicious combination that had Bundu on the mat awkwardly leaning backwards on his right leg.

The referee waived off the fight at 2:06 of the sixth round giving Errol Spence Jr. another knockout victory.

Errol Spence Jr. is now the mandatory challenger for the IBF Welterweight title, which is currently held by Kell Brook.

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PBC on NBC Preview: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Leonard Bundu

Posted on 08/19/2016

PBC on NBC Preview: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Leonard Bundu
By: William Holmes

On Sunday afternoon, at 5:00 PM EST, Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) will broadcast a daytime event live on NBC from the Ford Amphitheater at the Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, New York.

Only one bout is scheduled to be televised on Sunday and it will be between former United States Olympian Errol Spence Jr. and Italian contender Leonard Bundu. They will be competing in an IBF Welterweight Title eliminator bout.

Photo Credit: Lucas Noonan / Premier Boxing Champions

Prospects Claudio Marrero and Heather “The Heat” Hardy will be competing on the undercard will have a chance at fighting on the televised portion of the NBC card if the Spence bout is over quickly. Heather Hardy will have the toughest test of her career when she faces fellow undefeated boxer Shelly Vincent.

Spence, who is perhaps the most famous United States Olympian boxer from 2012, will be fighting before the start of the closing ceremonies for the 2016 Rio Olympics and on the same network that will be broadcasting it.

The following is a preview for the bout between Errol Spence Jr. and Leonard Bundu.

Errol Spence Jr. (20-0) vs. Leonard Bundu (33-1-2); IBF Welterweight Eliminator Bout

Many pundits consider Leonard Bundu to be the toughest opponent that Errol Spence Jr. has faced at this point of his career.

At first glance that may appear to be true. Bundu, like Spence, competed in the Olympics and was successful on the national and international stage in the amateurs. Bundu was born in Sierra Leone but represented Italy in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Spence represented the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Both failed to medal.

However, the similarities end there.

The biggest difference between the two opponents is age. Bundu is fifteen years older than Spence and is past his prime at the age of forty one. Bundu will also be giving up about three inches in reach and three inches in height when he steps into the ring.

Bundu also has only competed once in 2015 and once in 2016, while Spence fought once in 2016 and four times in 2015. Spence has clearly been the more active fighter.

Spence has seventeen knockouts on his record for a high stoppage ratio of 85%. Bundu has only stopped twelve of his opponents, and has five less stoppage victories despite having sixteen more fights.

Spence has been in the ring with increasingly difficult opposition. He beat the brakes off of Chris Algieri and was able to stop him while Manny Pacquiao was unable to do so. He has also defeated the likes of Chris Van Heerden, the sparring opponent of UFC star Connor McGregor, Phil Lo Greco, Alejandro Barrera, and Ronald Cruz.

Bundu stepped up in competition to face the elite of the welterweight division when he faced Keith Thurman, but he lost to him by decision. He has defeated the likes of Frankie Gavin, Lee Purdy, and Daniele Petrucci.

Bundu is a good fight for Spence at this stage of his career and has a solid chin. He should be able to give Spence some rounds and an opportunity for Spence to showcase his skills in front of a nationally televised audience.

But, Bundu has little to no chance of defeating one of the most prized prospects in the United States on Sunday afternoon. Bundu can survive the whole bout, but will take a beating in the process.

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“Hands Of Stone” Director Jonathan Jakubowicz: “It’s The Beauty Of working With Geniuses.”

Posted on 08/16/2016

“Hands Of Stone” Director Jonathan Jakubowicz: “It’s The Beauty Of working With Geniuses.”
By: Sean Crose

Sometimes we don’t know how well we have it. While living in a world of Twitter trends and the latest celebrity gossip, it’s often hard to appreciate the suffering that comes from growing up in dire poverty, or the fear that comes when one’s life might well be threatened. Such things, we might well feel, are only the stuff of movies, right?


Édgar Ramírez and Robert De Niro star in HANDS OF STONE

While the upcoming film “Hands of Stone” deals with the relationship between Panamanian boxing legend Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran – played by Argentinian actor Edgar Ramirez – and American trainer Ray Arcel – played by Robert DeNiro – it’s worth keeping in mind that the film is based on a true story. For the real Duran grew up in grinding poverty in his home country, while Arcel had legitimate reason for fearing the mafia would kill him. It’s actual life the movie deals with…though the story itself is custom made for Hollywood.

Director Jonathan Jakubowicz, took time to speak over the phone on Monday and claimed he wanted to create the “story of a positive Latino figure.” He ultimately settled on the 103-16 boxing legend. “Why not,” he asked, “focus on somebody who actually achieved greatness?” Sure enough, Duran’s life is fertile ground for a biopic. “He was a legend,” Venezuela’s Jakubowicz told me, “to all of us.”

“I was fascinated by him,” the director stated about his subject, “by his style, by everything he represented.” Yet Jakubowicz, who burst onto the scene with 2005’s “Secuestro Express” made it clear Duran “wasn’t a saint.” Sure enough, Duran was apt to make things as difficult for the “Hands of Stone” team as it was for his trainers during his prime.

For instance, just before Duran was to give the film his blessing, the feisty 65-year-old instead decided to give the production team a jolt. “He called us at five in the morning,” Jakubowicz said, “and sent us to hell saying he’s not going to sign anything.” Fortunately for the director, it was all bluster. “He’s a mind gamer,” claimed the director, adding that “he comes from rage.”

Sure enough, the dire poverty of Duran’s youth helped shape the man. Jakubowicz explained how, as the extremely poor Panamanian son of an American Marine who abandoned his paternal obligations, Duran felt the sting of American influence, as well as an individual American’s neglect. Still, the director made it clear that America also provided with fighter with incredible opportunity, especially through the person of Ray Arcel, who’s played by Robert DeNiro in the film.

“That dichotomy I found extremely fascinating,” the director said.

What may be extremely fascinating to film and boxing fans is the film’s cast. Besides Ramirez, who was brilliant in 2010s “Carlos,” Robert DeNiro, famous for, among other things, the fight classic “Raging Bull,” proved to be extremely helpful. As Arcel, he plays an aging trainer who comes back to the fight game after being run out of boxing years earlier by the mafia.

“He said I needed to work on the script,” Jakubowicz said of DeNiro, “to find Ray Arcel’s voice.” After helping Jakubowicz strengthen the screenplay, the legendary actor was then ready to act in the film. “DeNiro, he transformed,” Jakubowicz claimed, mentioning that the actor “shaved his head and dyed his hair white.”

Yet DeNiro wasn’t the only big name to come aboard. Someone was needed to play Duran’s arch nemesis, the popular and masterful “Sugar” Ray Leonard. Needless to say, Leonard the character was as difficult to cast as Leonard the fighter was difficult to defeat. Jakubowicz was bewildered. “I met with Freddie Roach,” the filmmaker said. “He goes, ‘listen, for Sugar Ray, you should get a dancer.’” That may have seemed crazy, but Jakubowicz took the iconic trainer’s advice. The role went none other than pop icon Usher – who’s listed in the film as Usher Raymond IV.

Much to Jakubowicz’ delight the song and dance maestro “trained for like a year for Leonard.” Sure enough, the great fighter himself helped prepare Usher for the role. “You nail the smile,” Leonard said of Usher, “everything else I’ll teach him.”

“It’s the beauty,” Jakubowicz said of the “Hands of Stone” experience, “of working with geniuses.”

With the script and cast lined up, it was time to film. “I focused on the psychological aspect of the sport,” Jakubowicz claimed, explaining that the first fight between Duran and Leonard contains a lot of “quick cuts,” due to the up close and personal nature of that battle. The rematch in New Orleans, however, was filmed with “wide lenses,” in order to effectively capture the movement and tempo of the notorious rematch. And the first fight in the film, where Arcel initially catches Duran in action live and in person? Jakubowicz made sure that viewers are “seeing it through the eyes of Ray Arcel.”

It was obvious just talking to the director that he was a true fan of the sport of boxing. “It’s a labor of love,” he said of the film, adding that “the golden era of boxing” that Duran and Leonard ruled, deserved top notch treatment. After all, these were men who went for broke – repeatedly. And frankly, it’s a story that’s needed to be told on film.

“We really need everybody to go,” Jakubowicz said.

Undoubtedly many fight fans will heed the call.
“Hands Of Stone” opens nationwide on August 26th.

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