ESPN Boxing Preview: Ito vs. Herring, Pedraza vs. Lozada
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida will be the host site of Top Rank Promotions latest boxing card to be televised on ESPN. Masayuki Ito will defend his WBO Junior lightweight title against Jamel Herring, a former US Olympic team member.
The co-feature of the night will also be a lightweight bout with possible future title implications. Former champion Jose Pedraza will face Antonio Lozada in the co-main event.
The undercard will feature several prospects such as Adam Lopez, Jean Carlos Rivera, Jeyvier Cintron, Koki Eto, Steve Nelson, and Yomar Alamo.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Jose Pedraza (25-2) vs. Antonio Lozada (40-2-1); Lightweight Division
Jose Pedraza’s two losses came against two of the best fighters in the lightweight division, Vasily Lomachenko by decision and a TKO loss to Gervonta Davis.
Lozada’s two losses came against fighters not as well known as Lomachenko and Davis. He lost to Roberto Ortiz and Ramiro Alcaraz, though he avenged the Alcaraz loss in a rematch.
Pedraza is thirty years old and one year older than Lozada. Pedraza will be giving up two inches in height to Lozada, and will be giving up an edge in power. Pedraza has only stopped twelve of his opponent and his last five wins were by decision. Lozada however has stopped thirty four of his opponents.
Both boxers have been relatively active recently. Pedraza fought four times in 2018 and only once in 2017. Lozada fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Pedraza has a clear edge in amateur experience as he competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Pedraza has beatedn the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Antonio Moran, Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry, Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Tevin Farmer.
Lozada’s biggest win to date was an upset TKO victory of the then undefeated Felix Verdejo. He has no other notable wins.
Lozada’s win over Verdejo has given him some notoriety and allowed him to land this fight, but he will be facing a far more experienced and skilled opponent on Saturday. Lozada has the power to pull off an upset victory but on paper it appears unlikely.
But outside of those two boxers Pedraza is one of the best fighters in the lightweight division.
Masayuki Ito (25-1-1) vs. Jamel Herring (19-2); WBO Junior Lightweight Title
Ito is a bit of an unknown in the Unite States, out of 27 fights he has only fought once outside of Japan, and that was when he won the WBO Junior Lightweight Title.
Ito is only 28 years old, five years younger than Herring. However, he will be giving up about an inch and a half in height but will have a half an inch advantage in reach. Both boxers have been fairly active, with both of them fighting three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Neither boxer is known for their power. Ito has stopped thirteen of his opponents while Herring has stopped ten of his opponents. However, Ito has stopped four of his past five opponents.
Herring does have an edge in amateur experience, as he competed for the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Ito has defeated the likes of Evgeny Chuprakov, Christopher Diaz, Lorenzo Villanueva, and Takuya Watanabe. His lone loss was to Rikki Naito.
Herring has defeated the likes of John Vincent Moralde, Art Hovhannisyan, and Luis Eduardo Florez. His losses were to Ladarius Miller and Denis Shafikov.
This should be a good fight, but Ito’s technical expertise should overwhelm the two loss Herring.
Berchelt and Navarrete Win their Rematches
By: William Holmes
The Tuscon Arena in Tuscon, Arizona was the host site for tonight’s Top Rank Promotions boxing card televised live on ESPN.
Two world title rematches were on display Emanuel Navarrete took on Isaac Dogboe for the WBO Junior Featherweight Title in the co-main event of the night and Miguel Berchelt faced Francisco Vargas for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title.
The opening bout of the broadcast was between Isaac Dogboe (20-1) and Emanuel Navarrete (26-1) for the WBO Junior Featherweight Title . Their last bout ended in an upset victory for Emanuel Navarrete.
Navarrete height and reach advantage was obvious early on as he went to work with his jab and short combinations. Navarrete slipped to the mat in the opening round, but was able to win the early rounds with his movement and combinations. A left upcut by Navarrete had Dogboe slightly rocked in the second round.
Dogboe came out charging in the third round, but Navarrete was able to stop that momentum with a sharp left uppercut that left Dogboe with shaky legs. Dogboe would start off strong in the opening minute of the fourth and fifth rounds, but Navarrete would have Dogboe hurt by the end of the round with his reach and power.
Navarrete scored a knockdown in the sixth round when a combination from him had Dogboe falling backwards in the the ropes. Dogboe continued to take a beating into the ninth round, but showed tremendous heart as he attempted to stay in the fight.
Isaac Dogboe’s corner, with his father as the lead trainer, threatened to stop the fight in the tenth round but sent Dogboe out to continue fighting anyway. The uppercuts of Navarrete continued to snap the head of Dogboe backwards and Dogboe needed a knockout in the final round in order to secure a win.
However, Navarrete continued pound on Dogboe in the final round and scored another knockdown. Dogboe got back up to his feet but on wobbly legs, and his father correctly decided to throw in the towel and stop his son from receiving further punishment.
Navarrete wins by TKO at 2:02 of the twelfth and final round.
The main event of the evening was between Miguel Berchelt (35-1) and Francisco Vargas (25-1-2) for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title .
Berchelt and Vargas last fought two years ago, with Berchelt coming out on top.
Berchelt showed good hand early on and was crisp with his combinations. Vargas was coming forward and did land some good overhand rights, but Berchelt was landing at a higher rate. Berchelt did get warned twice for low blows in the first.
Berchelt was landing some heavy lead left hooks in the second despite being warned for low blows again. There were some fierce exchanges in the second, but Berchelt was getting the better of Vargas.
Berchelt’s double left hook to the body and head were landing in the third, though Vargas did connect with a good combinations after Berchelt turned to the referee to complain about a low blow landing on him. Vargas was warned bout using his head in the third from the referee.
Vargas had blood coming from his nose going into the fourth round and he got tagged several times with eye combinations in the fourth. Vargas had his best round of the night in the fifth as he continued to come forward and at one point had Berchelt in some trouble by the ropes, but even that round was could have been scored either way.
Berchelt had a dominating sixth round as he loaded up on his shots to the body and head. Vargas looked like he was close to going down in the sixth, but he was able to stay on his feet, though he looked beaten both mentally and physically.
The corner of Francisco Vargas didn’t like what they saw from Vargas and stopped the fight before the start of the seventh.
Miguel Berchelt wins by TKO at the end of the sixth round.
ESPN Boxing Preview: Navarrete vs. Dogboe, Berchelt vs. Vargas
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Tuscon Arena in Tuscon, Arizona will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions Card on ESPN entitled “Twice as Nice”.
The main event of the card will feature a WBC Junior Lightweight Title rematch between Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas for Berchelt’s title. The co-main event of the evening will be another rematch between Emanuel Navarrete and Isaac Dogboe for Navarrete’s WBO Junior Featherweight title.
The undercard will feature several prospects, such as Mykal Fox, Carlos Castro, Miguel parra, and Miguel Marriaga. The undercard will be streamed on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Emanuel Navarrete (26-1) vs. Isaac Dogboe (20-1); WBO Junior Featherweight Title
Navarrete has spent almost his entire career fighting in Mexico, but his first fight in the United States was a big one against Isaac Dogboe, the then WBO Junior Featherweight Champion, and he shocked many by pulling off the upset.
They’ll rematch each other on Saturday night and Navarrete has a lot of inherent advantages. Both boxers are young and only twenty four years old. Navarrete has a significant edge in height as he is five inches taller than Dogboe. He also has a significant edge in reach as he has an eight inch reach advantage over him.
Navarrete also has the edge in power, as he has stopped twenty two of his opponents while Dogboe has only stopped fourteen. Both boxers have been fairly active, with Navarrete being the more active boxer. Navarrete fought four times in 2018 and five times in 2017 while Dogboe four four times in 2018 but only once in 2017.
Prior to beating Dogboe, Navarrete did not have an impressive resume of defeated opponents. He has beaten the likes of Jose Sanmartin, Glenn Porras, and Isaac Dogboe. His lone loss was in 2012 to Daniel Argueta.
Dogboe’s only loss in his career was to Navarrete. He has defeated the likes of Hidenori Otake, Jessie Magdaleno, Cesar Juarez, Javier Chacon, and Julian Aristule.
Navarrete had a pretty dominating performance against Dogboe, and his size and reach will be difficult for Dogboe to navigate and avoid. This bout will go a long way in determining if Navarrete is the real deal or not, but it appears likely he’ll walk away with another win.
Miguel Berchelt (35-1) vs. Francisco Vargas (25-1-2); WBC Junior Lightweight Title
Even though this bout is a highly anticipated rematch, Berchelt is still in his athletic prime at 37 years old and Vargas is now 34 years old. Based on age along it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see Berchelt win convincingly.
Vargas will have about a one inch height advantage over Berchelt while Berchelt will have about an one inch reach advantage. Berchelt has the edge in power, as he has thirty one stoppage victories on his resume while Vargas only has eighteen.
Vargas’ lone loss was a knockout loss to Berchelt. He also drew with Orlando Salido. He has beaten the likes of Rod Salka, Stephen Smith, Takashi Miura, Will Tomlinson, Juan Manuel Lopez, Abner Cotto, and Jerry Belmontes.
Vargas also has an impressive amateur background that includes a trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics for Mexico.
Berchelt has defeated the likes of Miguel Roman, Jonathan Victor Barros, Maxwell Awuku, Takashi Miura, Sergio Puente, and Francisco Vargas. His lone loss was to Luis Eduardo Florez in 2014.
Berchelt never competed in the Olympics but he was a three time Mexican National Boxing Champion as an amateur.
Vargas fought once in 2018 and twice in 2017. He has only fought two times since he lost to Berchelt. Berchelt fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.
This writer sees this bout going in Berchelt’s favor and possibly by stoppage.
Beterbiev, Ancajas Win In Stockton, Flores Impresses
By: Sean Crose
IBF light heavyweight champ, and undefeated knockout king Artur Beterbiev, 13-0, defended his belt against the 24-1 Radivoje Kalajdzic Saturday night in a Stockton, California card that was aired live on ESPN. First up on the televised broadcast, the 30-1-2 Jerwin Ancajas defended his IBF super flyweight strap against the 31-7 Ryuichi Funai. The first round was a relatively close affair. The second saw Ancajas going to his man’s body, with both men exchanging fast, solid head shots. The third round had both men engaging in a high octane performance. Ancajas landed well, but Funai was most certainly in the fight.
Ancajas hurt Funai in the fourth, but the game challenger survived the round, and even managed to keep trading punches. To his credit, Funai stayed alive in the fifth – but was taking some sharp punching from the defending champion. The sixth saw Ancajas land one straight head shot after another. At the start of the seventh, the ring doctor wisely stopped the match, as Funai at that point was absorbing much punishment.
Next up, undefeated local lightweight Gabriel Flores, 12-0, faced off against Eduardo Reis, 23-5, in a scheduled six rounder. Flores started strong and looked sharp in the first. Flores came out in the second and ripped Reis’ body. To his credit, Reis showed enough defensive skill to effectively survive the round. It proved to be of little use. An absolutely thunderous left hook put Reis down and ended the night for the lightweight in the seventh.
It was time for the main event. Kalajdzic found Beterbiev going straight at him at the opening bell. He quickly adjusted, and both men took to maneuvering in order to dictate the tempo. Beterbiev began to assert himself in the second. The third round was a slug fest, with Beterbiev taking his man down – but not out – in the final minute. Round four was wild. Both men swung furiously, though Beterbiev was clearly the stronger of the two combatants. Beterbiev started banging away in the fifth. The fight was then smartly halted. Beterbiev improved his record to 13-0, all by stoppage, and was able to successfully hold onto his belt.
The light heavyweight division is now one of the more interesting weight realms in boxing, with all major titles being held by men who might all stack up competitively against one another. After emerging victorious on Saturday, Beterbiev indicated he was ready to collect more of the division’s major titles.
Top Rank PPV Round by Round Results: Crawford Wins Fight When Khan Refuses to Continue
By: William Holmes
Amir Khan and Terence Crawford met in the main event of tonight’s pay per view offering by Top Rank Promotions and ESPN. Madison Square Garden was the host site of tonight’s card.
Three bouts were shown on the pay per view portion of the undercard and they showed some videos after the undercard to hype up the main event.
Danny Walter sung the national anthem of the United Kingdom. The national anthem of the United States was sung by Marissa Ann. Amir Khan entered the ring first and Terence Crawford came in second.
The following is a round by round recap of tonight’s main event.
Terence Crawford (34-0) vs. Amir Khan (33-4); WBO Welterweight Title
Crawford looked intensely at Khan during the referee instructions. Both boxers start off in an orthodox stance. Khan goes with a body head combination but doesn’t land much. Crawford misses a check left hook, but follows it with a short left hook that partially lands. Khan comes forward with a double jab. Crawford is light on his feet. Khan misses with a two punch combination but lands a short left hook upstairs. Amir Khan throws out a few more jabs. Crawford lands a good short right hand and follows it with a two punch combination that knocks Amir Khan down. Crawford is looking for the knockout an dis pressing the pace. Khan is attempting to tie up at end of round and Crawford lands some heavy right hands as round comes to an end.
Khan was rattled as he walked to his corner in the previous round. Crawford paws out a few jabs and looks ready to surge forward. Khan circling away throwing out a few soft jabs. Khan with a two punch combination. Crawford throws out another two punch combination and bounces some off the guard of Khan. Khan lands a good straight right hand on Crawford. Khan is reaching for his punches a bit. Crawford lands another lead right hand and momentarily wobbles Khan. Crawford lands a good right to the body. Khan lands a good short left hook on Crawford. Khan may be recovered from that first round knockdown.
10-9 Crawford; 20-17 Crawford.
Crawford lands an early jab. Khan comes forward and lands a good two punch combination. Crawford flicks out another jab and has Khan backing up. Crawford lands a good straight right hand. Khan lands a looping left hook. Crawford is controlling the territory of the ring. Khan’s hand speed is giving Crawford a little trouble. Crawford is more patient this round and looking for counters, but Khan may be stealing it by throwing first. Closer round.
10-9 Khan, 29-27 Crawford
Crawford paws out a few jabs. Crawford in a southpaw stance. Crawford connects with a straight left hand. Crawford pawing out a few jabs, lands a good straight left hand. Khan lands a good multi punch combination upstairs on Crawford. Good body shot by Khan gets a tongue out response from Crawford. Khan rushes forward with a combination and Crawford ducks under. Khan lands a good straight right hand and Crawford answers with a combination to the body and head. Crawford’s punches do more damage than Khan. Crawford landing some heavy body shots on Khan. Khan getting hammered by Crawford. Good straight right by Khan at end of the round.
10-9 Crawford; 39-36 Crawford
Crawford lands an early jab on Khan. Khan throws a double jab to the body of Crawford. Crawford lands a vicious two punch combination on Khan with his back against the ropes. Crawford lands a vicious right hook on Khan. Crawford starting to put a beating on Khan this round. Khan is reaching a bit for his punches, and Crawford makes him pay with good counters. Crawford with two more heavy shots to the body of Khan. Crawford looks extremely confident and barely misses with a windmill uppercut. Khan lands a reaching hook. Amir Khan lands a good right hand at the end of the round.
10-9 Crawford; 49-45 Crawford
Khan misses with a jab to the body. Crawford is dictating the pace and barely misses with a two punch counter. Khan lunges forward on his attacks. Crawford lands a low blow and Khan visibly reacts. Khan is given time to recover.
The fight was stopped due to the low blow as Amir Khan is unable to continue.
The referee has to determine if the low blow was accidental or purposeful. If it is determined to be accidental the fight will go to the scorecards.
However, it appears the fight was not stopped due to a low blow, but due to Virgil Hunter asking Amir Khan if he wanted to continue and he said no. Therefore, Crawford gets a TKO victory since Amir Khan could not continue.
Terence Crawford wins by TKO at 0:47 of the sixth round.
Top Rank PPV Undercard Results: Verdejo, Stevenson, and Lopez Win Impressively
By: William Holmes
The televised undercard of tonight’s PPV featured three fights before the main event between Terence Crawford and Amir Khan.
This event was held at Madison Square Garden and televised live on Pay Per View in a partnership between Top Rank Promotions and ESPN.
The first fight on the undercard was between Felix Verdejo (24-1) and Bryan Vazquez (37-3) in the lightweight division.
Verdejo took control of the center of the ring early on and was landing crisp jabs in conjunction with decent body shots. Vazquez kept a good tight high guard, but he wasn’t very effective when he went on the offensive.
Verdejo landed a good short left hook in the third round but had a small cut under his left eye in the fourth round. Verdejo looked like the fresher fighter in the fifth round and was able to land some good body shots in the sixth.
Vazquez had a strong seventh and eight round and may have stolen them on the judges’ score cards. Verdejo however was the aggressor in the final two rounds and likely took them from Vazquez.
The final scores were 97-93, 97-93, and 98-92 for Felix Verdejo.
The next fight on the undercard was in the featherweight division between Shakur Stevenson (10-0) and Christopher Diaz (24-1)
Stevenson, a southpaw, started off the fight by circling away from the power hand of Diaz and stayed on the outside. Stevenson picked him apart in the second round with a jab and looked to be in good control
Diaz attempted to keep the distance tight in the third and fourth rounds but Stevenson was too accurate of a puncher to be in danger.
Stevenson had a real strong fifth round as his superior hand speed was just taking it over. Diaz had a better sixth round and both fighters crossed feet in the seventh round. Diaz looked like he was reaching for his punches a bit in the eighth round as he was behind on the cards at the time.
Stevenson looked extremely confident going into the final two rounds and coasted to a comfortable victory.
The final scores were 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92 for Shakur Stevenson.
The final fight on the undercard was a lightweight fight between Teofimo Lopez (12-0) and Edis Tatli (31-2) .
Lopez was sharp with his jab early on and landed some good check left hooks in the opening round. He continued to press in the second round and was able to land some good shots to the body.
Lopez continued to press the pace in the third round and had Tatli in full retreat in the fourth round. Lopez went for the stoppage in the fourth as he was winding up on his power shots, but Tatli was able to stay on his feet.
Lopez finished the fight in the fourth round with a vicious body shot that sent Tatli to the mat for the full ten count.
Lopez wins by knockout at 1:32 of the fifth round.
Transcript of Top Rank on ESPN Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan Media Conference Call
Top Rank on ESPN blow-by-blow commentator Joe Tessitore, analysts – former two-division world titleholder, Tim Bradley and former pound-for-pound two-division world champion, Andre Ward, participated in a media conference call yesterday to discuss the welterweight showdown between pound-for-pound king Terence “Bud” Crawford vs. former unified 140-pound champion Amir “King” Khan. Crawford-Khan will mark the first PPV event under the Top Rank on ESPN banner on Saturday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Madison Square Garden.
A transcript of the conference call follows:
JOE TESSITORE: Thank you so much, and welcome, everybody. We’re thrilled as a production team to have this night. I sit there and you get the introduction there, and I hear we’re coming on the air with ESPN2 at 6 o’clock, knowing we’re coming on Pay-Per-View 9 o’clock.
So, now I’m sitting here looking at this bout sheet saying, holy cow, we’ve got to broadcast nine fights. This is unbelievable here, just the workload. But here’s what I love about Saturday night. And we’ll get into the main event plenty. When we put forth this relationship with Top Rank, one of the major themes was we’re going to serve the boxing fan really, really well.
And I think we all collectively feel good about what’s been accomplished since we went on the air with Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn from Australia a couple summers ago right through the past year, with the growth and development of ESPN+, with what we’ve been doing on ESPN. And I’m so sick of hearing my voice on a 30-second commercial promo right now on ESPN this week, and I’m sure everybody else is, too. But what it shows you is an unbelievable commitment from the network to put this sport forward the way it always should have been in the course of the last 25 to 30 years — that the role this support now plays on the landscape of American sports is back to what it always was, of being a very mainstream.
And this night really over-delivers to the fans, and we’re really excited about it. We just got done having our production meetings with all the fighters. And as much as we have arguably the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, an undefeated fighter, a generational talent in Bud Crawford against a global star, a well-marketed, former champion who still has tons of speed and skill and athleticism to make this a very competitive fight. We have a Pay-Per-View card that’s worthy of a Pay-Per-View card because you have rising undefeated stars, you have intrigue and next-generational talent kind of guys cars in Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez both taking step-up fights. And we feel like we’re going to over-deliver to the fans on Saturday night.
And I think in recent years — and, listen, this is ESPN’s first venture in this relationship of stepping into Pay-Per-View — in recent years you haven’t been able to say that about the sport, whether living in the corner of premium cable or whether living in the world of Pay-Per-View, which for the most part was economic relief for promoters and networks rather than really delivering a hefty night to the fans.
And we feel from 6 o’clock through or past midnight on Saturday night we are going to serve the fan. And that is first and foremost.
Now, the primary way we’re going to serve the fan is two very determined world-class fighters being in the ring at the end of all of that.
Just moments ago Bud Crawford and Amir Khan left the room that we’re sitting in now. I’ll let Tim and Andre tell you what they’re seeing, what they’re thinking, what they expecting in the fight. But here’s what I do know: We’re getting two guys at their absolute prime, at their absolute best, the version of each of them.
We got a very surly, and nasty Bud Crawford sit with us before, and we’ve had that version of Bud Crawford sit with us in production meetings before. And when you get that version of Bud Crawford, you get a serious ending to a fight that’s memorable.
And we have Amir Khan feeling that right now, 33 wins into his career, fighting in a weight class where he’s undefeated, feeling a sense of maturity, having a 12-week training camp with Virgil Hunter, he sits here and he tells us that he’s completely ready.
And then you hear the deference shown from Bud Crawford of recognizing Amir Khan’s physical gifts — his boxing skills, his legs, his straight punches, his fighting prowess — and I have a feeling that this fight, as it draws closer, is much more than how it was perceived when it was first signed.
Anytime you go up against a guy like Vasiliy Lomachenko or Bud Crawford, I don’t care who is opposite them, the early perception of the fight is, ah, man, we know what’s going to happen here. Listen, I have great intrigue as to what’s going to happen in the first six to eight rounds of this fight.
Much like we’ve seen other times with Amir Khan. Tell me about an Amir Khan fight that you’ve ever seen — listen, the guy went all the way up to 160 pounds against Canelo Alvarez; he’s never in a bad fight.
And I think we’re getting the absolute best version of him here. I want to turn it over to Tim.
TIM BRADLEY: I’m just glad to be here, one. And also after last week, looking at arguably the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the game, Lomachenko, now we’re coming back this week to look at Terence Bud Crawford, and we get to compare the two.
Different opponents but I love the fact that we get to compare the two, and the fans at home that’s going to be watching, they’ll get a show from Bud Crawford and Amir Khan.
I want to see if the fans at home can pick after watching Bud Crawford, their number one pound-for-pound — that’s what I’m interested in. And I want to see if Amir Khan still has a lot left in the tank. I want to see how well he prepared. And if he has the ability still to compete at the welterweight division.
ANDRE WARD: So I don’t know what else I can say that Joe and Tim haven’t said. But I will say I’m also excited about calling this fight on ESPN Pay-Per-View. I read a headline the other day that, basically it was a writer saying something to the effect — and he (writer) may be on this call right now — but something to the effect that he’s predicting or hoping for, you know, a failure for this Pay-Per-View.
And that’s just not the type of headline that should be written when we’re — the collective goal is to push this sport forward and to grow this sport.
And this type of card, this type of event is going to do that. And just like Joe said, from top to bottom, you have Verdejo, who is trying to reclaim the glory he once had. He doesn’t have one championship round under his belt. And he’s literally fighting for his boxing future to show the people that he’s still El Diamante, that he still has what it takes to be a champion one day.
Obviously you have a young man that I’m familiar with, Shakur Stevenson, who is — he wants to be in the top spot. He’s on the fast track. The team, Top Rank and obviously myself and the other managers, we’d like him to probably take a slower route. But in this day and age, man, the young fighters they want to move a lot faster. He has what it takes, but it’s not going to be easy against Diaz.
Diaz challenged for a world title not too long ago. He came up short. But he obviously showed that he’s in the running. He deserves to be in the race to be facing the top in the division. And he wants to show Shakur that Shakur picked the wrong contender to pick on.
You obviously have Teofimo Lopez, the co-main event. He’s in the peculiar position where, yes, he’s getting a lot of headlines; yes, he can fight. No doubt about that. But people still have questions, as they will for the course of his career, that’s how it goes.
How good is he and can he back up the big talk? And this is pressure that he and his father have heaped upon themselves. I respect it. It’s not an easy thing to do. You have enough pressure as is just being a young prospect with a hot name.
And they’re not only doing that, but they’re calling out guys like Lomachenko, who, again, depending on where you are on the pound-for-pound list or how you put either fighter, Crawford or Loma, he may be the best guy or number two, they’re calling for that guy. They’re not just saying we’re willing to face them; they’re demanding the fight.
That’s a lot of pressure to live up to and they’re doing it and I respect it. Whether you agree with it or not.
And then our main event, between Amir Khan and Terrance Crawford, I know Amir very well. It’s well publicized that he’s with my team. He has pretty much my whole team in the Bay Area.
Amir Khan is a silver medalist. The goods have always been there physically. But in the biggest moments he hasn’t been able to put it all together. And Amir’s issue is not information. It’s not knowing what to do or being told what to do. It’s always application; can he do it in the biggest moment?
And the question I would have for Amir Khan going into this fight is simply is it more important for you to prove to the people, the masses, the fans, the media how tough you are, or that you can take punishment, or that you’re a guy that has heart? Or is it more important to actually win the fight?
Because winning this fight, regardless of how he wins it, is really the only thing that’s going to extend his career.
Terrance Crawford, he has superseded just being in the discussion about fighting for titles. He’s done that. He’s been the undisputed champion at 140. He has plenty of belts. He’s in the position where every fight matters. And not just winning but how he wins, it matters when you’re in the discussion for pound-for-pound elite status, because clearly that is irrespective of weight class.
And every move, every performance is going to be scrutinized as it should be if you’re going to be in that discussion. So he’s not without pressure going into this fight. He not only has to win but he has to dominate and I would probably venture to say he probably needs a knockout to stay in that top conversation because of the history of Amir Khan.
Fans and media are going to match his performance up against every other top guy that Amir has fought. And that’s why I say — and I probably would never go on the record or at least up until this point I’ve yet to be on the record to say a guy needs a knockout — but because of Amir’s tasks he’s going to need that type of performance if he’s going to stay in the top spot or, for people who have number two, to supersede Loma. So here we are.
Q. Can you give fans your predictions for the fight goes the distance, many are predicting Kahn will KO. What if he doesn’t?
ANDRE WARD: If Khan is not KOed, I still believe Terence has more than enough ability to get the job done because of his style. He’s able to make adjustments in the ring. That’s why he’s considered among one of the best fighters pound-for-pound in the game.
Amir Khan has that amateur pedigree. He’s fought some tough guys. He does have a better resumé than Terence Crawford as far as opponents goes. But Amir Khan hasn’t really performed at the welterweight level, like Jake was saying, just yet. This is the big test at the welterweight division.
And if it does go the distance like I told you I think that Terence Crawford will win the decision without a doubt.
Bradley: I think I’ll answer the question. But I’ll reiterate what I said a few minutes ago. Obviously, a win is all that matters to Team Crawford. That’s what it’s about. That’s where the next payday comes. That’s where the next opportunity comes. You have to win. That’s first and foremost.
And I don’t believe personally that — obviously a knockout is better than a decision. That goes without saying. But I don’t think he feels like it’s a knockout or bust.
What I’m saying is in the eyes of most media members, and in the eyes of a lot of the fans, based on Amir Khan’s history, he’s going to be compared — the performance Saturday night is going to be compared to the other guys that stopped, the other three guys that stopped Amir Khan. And I still believe that if he dominated every round, he’s still at the top of the pound-for-pound list. But once again the reality is that the Crolla-Loma fight, whether you agree or not, whether I agree or not, is going to be compared to the Crawford-Khan fight.
So he’s in a tricky position, but this is a good position to be in. These are the waters you want to be in if you’re in the discussion, if you are dealing with the scrutiny of arguably being the best fighter in the world. That’s not something haphazard. That’s not something you just gloss over. That’s a big deal. But this is the kind of pressure that comes with it. We’ll see how the fight comes out.
TIM BRADLEY: And to piggyback off what Dre is saying, if you look at any of the top welterweights in the division — you know, you’ve got Errol Spence, Thurman and Shawn Porter — you look at these guys — Danny García, García has already knocked out Kahn.
If you match them with Kahn, you would bet that they would knock Kahn out. So it puts a lot of pressure on Terence Bud Crawford to get the knockout Saturday night.
ANDRE WARD: I’ll throw one more thing in there. If Canelo would have won a decision against Amir Kahn there would have been some boo birds. There would have been some people, a lot of critics saying, hey, this guy moved up to 160 — and I know it was two weight classes — but he moved up to 160 and you couldn’t stop him when he’s been stopped in the past?
Again, this is the reality of the situation. He’s going to be — this performance Saturday night is going to be compared not just to the other fights that Amir’s fought, but specifically the guys who have knocked him out. Everybody is going to match that up to the Crawford performance and say, oh, this is your pound-for-pound best. Well he didn’t do XYZ and that’s the name of the game and that’s how it goes.
Q. Tim, being that you’ve done big Pay-Per-Views and a lot of pressure has been on you, how much pressure is it on the Terence Crawford to deliver a spectacular performance even though he’s already knocked out the guy that knocked out Amir Kahn?
TIM BRADLEY: You know, being at the top level and to be mentioned in the top pound-for-pound, there’s always a lot of pressure. You know, this is Crawford’s second Pay-Per-View. There’s a lot of expectations from not only the media but also the boxing fans, the boxing world, (indiscernible) that he’s facing, Amir Khan, and the history of Khan in big fights and him being knocked out. So there’s a lot of pressure on Terrance Crawford going into this fight.
I have to say this, man. Khan is not as easy as everybody thinks. This fight is not going to be as easy as everybody thinks it’s going to be. Khan is highly motivated. He’s at a point in his career where he needs a fighter to get him up, and Terence Crawford is that guy. He’s that guy that, he has to dream about every single night for three months. And a guy that he should fear, because he knows what can happen because of the history that Khan has been in and has gone through. So Khan’s going to be ready more than what everybody thinks that he’s going to be.
He’s going to fight smart. He’s going to fight hard. He’s going to give Terence Crawford a challenge. There’s one thing that Terence Crawford does that kind of worries me a little bit is that when he’s in close, sometimes he pulls away with his hands out leaving himself exposed for a left hook from a little bit too close.
You can’t do that against a guy like Khan who is an Olympian, who has been in there with some top guys in the world without paying the price.
So I’m curious to see if Terence Crawford has fixed that. And I’m curious to see if Khan can make him pay for his mistakes.
Q. How much does a fighter think about doing a big Pay-Per-View like this leading up to the fight, how much does it factor into his psyche?
TIM BRADLEY: His psyche? Well, if you’re real, just put it this way, if you’re real you’ve got to be able to deal with the pressure. But I could tell you this: My first Pay-Per-View, when I fought against the best fighter pound-for-pound, Manny Pacquiao, at the time, I could tell you what Khan’s feeling right now, being the B side of things.
I felt like I was fighting against King Kong. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. Everybody was expecting me to get knocked out against Manny Pacquiao. It was a lot of pressure, man.
I just had to relax, put it that way. I spoke to some of my friends who have been around boxing for a long time. They told me, Tim, just relax.
But the lead-up, in your hotel room, when you step foot on the scale, after that, man, it becomes a reality, man. And it can definitely hinder your performance when you step foot in the ring.
I have to say, another thing is that last week when we saw Lomachenko against Crolla — Crolla can say whatever he wants about not being nervous and not being scared, he didn’t fight that way from the opening bell.
Crolla fought scared. The bright lights got to him. And that can happen. That could very well happen.
But I don’t think it’s going to happen in this fight. Khan’s been here before. He’s been here before. He’s been in big events. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think he’ll be fine.
Q. Andre, you said Crawford has a willingness to exchange, and this could be one of his emphasis. How can Amir Kahn exploit and capitalize on this?
ANDRE WARD: I think what I said was something to the effect of, Terence Crawford gets overeager at times, or if he gets hit he wants to get the punch back right away. So, instead of Terence in a particular instance showing 2s and 3s or a 3 and a 4, he’ll try to throw a 5 and 6. And on the 5 and 6 punch, he’ll exchange with the guys and he’ll tend to get caught at times.
That could be good and bad. The negative is you get hit. The positive is you were in range to do damage as well.
To sum this fight up in a nutshell, this fight is about the second and third adjustment. The first game plan they might match up evenly in the first round or two. But it’s the second adjustment that Terence is going to make, and the question and the burden and the onus is going to be on Khan — can he keep up, can he make the other adjustments?
And when Terence makes another adjustment, can Amir Khan make that adjustment? That’s where Amir sometimes gets left in the dust in those bigger fights against better competition, is they make the second or third adjustment. He doesn’t realize the process that, yo, this guy is setting me up for a big shot. Amir is going along to get along. He’s being sassed, he’s being what he is, he’s doing what he normally does, using a lot of athleticism, a lot of skill, the things he woke up and came out of the crib with.
But when it comes to digging deep mentally and saying, whoa, this guy is trying to set me up because he wants me to throw that right hand so he can come over the top with a left hook.
That’s what he’s been unable to do. I’m not sure if he can get that at this stage in his career. I know my godfather and my former coach has been working on that. He’s been doing his part on that. But, again, the issue with Amir Khan is not the information. It’s the application. He has the information. He’ll say the right things. He’s been in camp 10 weeks or 12 weeks, whatever it’s been.
I don’t have the entourage anymore. I’m focused. I know how important this fight is. So when the lights come on and the bell rings, and you get past that first adjustment where Terence starts to get out a little bit, what is Amir Kahn going to do?
Q. You mentioned you already met with Khan and Crawford. Anything standing with them looking in their eyes that changes or confirms your outlook for Saturday?
JOE TESSITORE: I’ll just reinforce the one observation I made a few times when we’ve had Bud in these production meetings. But there is a surly, mean streak that grows within him as you get closer to a fight like this, with Bud Crawford. And it was festering already today.
We usually have these production meetings on Friday where it’s very, very pronounced when you’re with him. It was already there today.
The other observation I would have is both guys are physically primed. When we throw, you know, the fit and ready around, they are fit and ready. So they’ve been on weight. So they’re comfortably eating, comfortably hydrating. You’re getting a very good physical version of both guys.
I would also say that Amir Khan as well as Virgil Hunter talked plenty about focus and discipline and attentiveness to what’s happening here. And Amir going so far as saying how much he’s even changed his fightweek norm, that last night that he found himself staying in and watching fights, watching some of his past fights, watching some of his sparring on tape and watching some of Crawford’s old fights. And he said in previous big fightweeks that would not be the case as to how he spent a Wednesday night. It would be family, it would be friends, it would be the gathering of everybody coming into town for the fight
So my personal takeaway is that you’re getting guys who are at their physical prime prepared peak and their mental prime prepared peak. That was my biggest takeaway.
Listen, we sit there, we go deep. I tend to think he’s conversations that we have in production meetings go far more philosophical and reflective than most any sport I do. And when I’m sitting there with Bill Belichick or Sean McVay getting ready to do Monday Night Football, it’s all scheme, all XO, it’s all personnel, it’s all where you are in the prep for the week.
These conversations go far deeper into the psyche, into the essence of somebody’s being. And with both of these guys you’re saying they’re A to A-plus, where they are right now.
ANDRE WARD: Just my takeaway, I’ll start with Amir Khan. You have to give Amir Khan credit because there’s not a lot of fighters that could have gone through what he’s gone through in the boxing ring and also the scrutiny he’s dealt with outside the ring.
And I’m talking about the personal scrutiny he gets, I’m talking about his in-ring performances. And he’s still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He’s still hopeful. He’s still fighting to make the necessary adjustments in his personal life, as a fighter.
I wasn’t around his training camp. I personally stayed away. I wasn’t around Terence’s camp either. I’m friends with both guys. I wanted to stay neutral as possible.
But I know instinctively that Amir Khan didn’t have an easy camp with his sparring partners. I know he had to fight every single day to keep these guys off of him. And I respect that. And I know that there’s been a disconnect between the information and application, like I said earlier,
but he truly believes he’s going to win. Amir Khan, even in his worst outing, you haven’t seen a guy turn tail and go the other way.
You haven’t seen a guy quit like — if you beat him, if you even stop him, you’re going to do have to do what a Canelo did, what a Danny García did. That’s literally what you’ll have to do to make him stop fighting. And even though stylistically and technically things aren’t perfect all the time and that’s the reason why those things happen, I respect the moxie and the willingness. And Amir Khan has shown more willingness by taking this fight than a lot of champions have shown over the last three or four or five years. And their efforts or lack of efforts to face the other top guys in their division.
Terence Crawford, I don’t mean to inject myself into this — but I see a lot of myself in him when I look at him two days before a fight, a day before a fight.
He’s not a guy that’s just fighting for bills, he’s not just fighting for money. That’s fine. That’s part of it. It’s prize fighting. He comes to get that as well. But he’s fighting for respect.
And when you have that chip on your shoulder, when you have that inclination that you’re not getting what you feel like you’ve rightfully earned, that’s a different type of fuel. That’s like what you saw in Aaron Pryor when he fought Alexis Arguello the first time and even the second time.
Alexis came in as the golden boy and everyone praised him. And Aaron Pryor was the young guy who had done a lot but yet didn’t have the respect. He came from the ghetto of Cincinnati. And it was one thing that set him off. And that really led to Arguello’s demise in that fight, if you watch “Legendary Nights,” is the ring announcer said, “Mr. Arguello” when he announced Alexis, and he just said “Aaron Pryor.”
It was that small thing that 99 percent of the people watching on television, the people inside the stadium would have missed, but because he felt marginalized, because he felt slighted, because he felt like the just due had never really been there even though he earned it, it was that little bit of fuel that caused him to do what he did to Alexis. And that’s the same material that Terence Crawford has inside of him.
Q. For Amir, fighting late in your career as an underdog, what’s going to be the physical/mental mindset to succeed on Saturday? And also in the blog world, people are saying even the best Amir Khan, Amir in his prime, that they would still pick Crawford over him. But is this version of Amir, the veteran that’s hungry to return, is this the best version that has the best chance of winning against Crawford?
TIM BRADLEY: Absolutely. At this point in Amir Khan’s career, when you have won championships, when you have earned the money, like I’ve said before, you need these type of fights to get you up for it, to get you back doing what you used to do.
And he went back with Virgil to get that education to be ready for this fight against Terence Crawford.
I can’t praise Khan enough, just like Dre (Andre Ward) said, his willingness to fight the best fighters in the world all the time is hard, fighting against Danny García, who is undefeated, and Marcos Maidana, and still, Khan passed on a big fight with Kell Brook for millions and millions of dollars to face the pound-for-pound, my number one pound-for-pound fighter in the game, Terence Bud Crawford. So that speaks volumes for a guy like Amir Khan. And what I saw during the fighters meeting, I saw a focused, very determined Amir Khan — kind of changed my outlook on the fight.
This fight I think is going to be a tougher fight than what everybody are saying. I think that Amir understands what he has to do and what he has to be. I think he had great preparation for this fight, after talking with him, after speaking with him.
And I think it’s going to be a very competitive fight very early. He just can’t get caught with the big shots. Amir Khan, I believe, will be in this fight if he doesn’t get caught with the big shot from Crawford.
And as far as Crawford goes, it’s always the same with him. He can destroy. That’s the only thing on his mind right now. It’s fightweek. He’s a very humble guy. But you don’t want to get under Crawford’s skin the week of the fight. One of my colleagues here asked the wrong question or said the wrong thing to him and Crawford snapped off at him and said, “Don’t you disrespect me. Don’t you disrespect me.” And it was just as simple as, hey, this is your first Pay-Per-View fight. And he’s, like, no, no, no. It’s my second.
He’s determined to hold onto his status as one of the top fighters in the game. No other welterweight wants to step up and face Bud Crawford. They keep saying that they’re the best, and Crawford is willing to prove it and to step up in the ring with him.
But these guys, they keep running from him. They don’t want to fight Terence Bud Crawford. So Crawford is fighting Khan now because he is the only one man enough to stand up, to face Bud Crawford. And like I said, I think it’s going to be a great fight. I think everybody’s sleeping on this one.
Q. Tim and Andre, what did you find the toughest thing about making the transition from the ring to being ringside calling the fights and doing commentary?
TIM BRADLEY: For me, the toughest thing was not giving away the fighter. When you break the fighters down, sometimes we can say a little bit too much about the fighter and expose them. That’s been the hardest transition for me.
And also just the flow. The flow alone has been really tough, the commentary, the flow — getting your words together, saying things the right way has been a challenge, very challenging for me.
ANDRE WARD: You mean more like what the actually craft of being an analyst or just personally, like what did you mean exactly?
Q. Craft first but personal observation is welcome.
ANDRE WARD: I’ve had the opportunity throughout the years to do this. I worked at HBO for many, many years, Showtime back in the day. I actually started off with the “World Series of Boxing.” I would fly out to LA. I did it for free just to get the reps in.
But this is a whole other level in terms of the platform. This is a whole other level as far as, like, how many shows I’m actually calling. Like, I would do maybe five shows a year with HBO. This is on a whole other level.
And the quality of the product that ESPN is demanding that we put out, it causes you to have to get better, have to raise the bar. Joe Tessitore, I tell him all the time, I’m just so grateful for just a mentorship. Joe Tess is who he is. We all know who he is and what he’s accomplished and what he’s currently doing.
But he’ll be in the middle of his prep, he’ll stop typing and look over to us and talk to us for however long we need to talk and then he’ll resume his preparation.
So the standard is high. The product should be high. But it’s also a good thing, too, for — I’ll speak for me and I’ll probably venture to speak for Tim, too, tell me if I’m wrong — like, this is good for us, coming from where we came from, the competitiveness, the need to have a mark and try to meet that mark. It’s been good for me, because that same competitiveness, I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist.
ANDRE WARD: But I have moments in here where one thing will be off and they’ll see me just be hypersensitive over it. And Joe will just look at me and say, ha, I got a glimpse of the fighter Andre Ward and what his trainer had to deal with.
That part is good. And then just emotionally I would say it’s good that — I would say that I have some nights where I’m calling a fight, and I’m, like, huh, I’m glad I’m on this side of the ropes and not inside the ring. I don’t want to have to deal with that anymore.
And there’s other nights where I’m, like, man, I wish I was the one walking out from that curtain and I wish I was the fighter they were talking about.
So it’s a process. But it’s a process that all of us — guys who were going to retire at some point — we’ve got to go through this, whether we’re over the hill and retired too late or we retired at the right time.
So I’m embracing it. I’m happy to be a part. But it’s a good thing for me to have a challenge at this point in my life.
TIM BRADLEY: Yeah, this is definitely keeping me out of the ring and returning back. And also, one more thing, it’s hard sometimes not to be a little bit too critical on the fighters coming up and the fighters in the ring.
It’s hard to really find the balance for me, being just kind of, just a little bit too critical on what they’re not doing or what they can improve on. So I’ve got to — I’m still trying to find that balance where I’m giving praise and I’m also being a little bit critical.
Q. Joe, you’ve worked with a lot of athletes turned commentators. Give these gentleman a grade.
JOE TESSITORE: It’s interesting you say that, because this is obviously our first full year of being a broadcast team together in a three-man booth, and I’m just coming off a Monday Night Football season with a three-man booth, which was highly scrutinized as has been a cottage industry off to the side of Monday Night Football, going back to the days of Cosell and Meredith and Gifford.
And in the span of one year I’ve had this experience of “retired hall of famer coming to broadcasting three-man booth in one sport and retired hall of famers coming to broadcast in a three-man booth in another.”
And the greatest difference with Andre and Tim is how comfortable and natural they are meshing and grooving together like the same way they would be sitting on a couch watching a fight. And it happened right away with them. It didn’t have to evolve. It didn’t have to grow.
Yes, as every week goes by there’s refinement and things are smoothed out and the TV acumen and skill set and television IQ fully develops. But, right from the start you’re dealing with two guys who understand how to mesh together, and their boxing brains are so elite and they’re so comfortable that it makes my job really, really easy.
They’re very coachable. They both want to be coached. They both sit back and they broadcast — as I often talk to my analysts, no matter what sport I’m doing — of broadcasting with your eyes up, of just looking, being aware and reacting.
The reason that they’re hired is because they’re two of the foremost experts in the world. They’re two of the best that have ever done it generationally recently. And when they broadcast with their eyes up and see and say and tell us the why and how and the what to look for, they’re excellent, which is what they’ve done.
I sit back oftenand if you listen to our broadcast style as a crew right now, what you often get is I sit back and listen to these two great champions just talk and observe.
And then when it’s necessary I will get in and give you the blow-by-blow or advance the storyline, as was the case with our Lomachenko fight the other day, where we have the great flurry by Lomachenko, the punishment against the ropes, the technical knockdown scored, the confusion, was it a TKO or not? And these guys are smart enough to lay out, let me do my job and get out of the way.
But with how young they are and how hard they work and the positions they now hold in boxing, because the broadcast landscape of the sport drastically changed in the course over the last 12 months. HBO World Championship Boxing is out of business. ESPN Top Rank is in business.
So these seats that had been held by years and years by so many familiar faces from Larry Merchant on through are now held by these two men. And they’re more than worthy of it, and I have a feeling that we’re going to be having this conversation 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, as now multiple generations will go forward as fight fans with Tim and Andre being the voices and the brains and the faces of the sport.
And that’s a very good thing for the sport because they celebrate the athlete. They’re able to be critical. They are able to be analytical.
They give you a reason to watch. Tim is one of the ultimate characters, so joyful, absolutely irreverent, he doesn’t care what he says or how he says it, he’s going to be his natural self.
Andre is so analytical and so smart and so cerebral and has a boxing computer for a brain. And I would tell you what he’s doing now with his ESPN+ work, which is ESPN’s commitment akin to what we have with Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez and Peyton Manning, he’s as good as I’ve seen the sport put forth in my years of being in the sport.
And the more you watch that material, the higher education you have as a fight fan and the more interests you have in watching the fight. I couldn’t be more thrilled with both of these guys.
You want to sincerely grade them out right now, I would tell they’re B pluses to A minuses with, in a sense and a trajectory that undoubtedly will have them as straight A broadcasters for years and years to come.
And I truly believe that. And I’m just honored to be able to work with them at this stage of my career, where I can play a little bit of a role of mentor and lodestar and educate them on television production and be by their side as colleagues and friends.
So that’s a very long answer to say you’re about to see a long run of the two biggest guys who are going to be kicking ass in broadcasting boxing on television for the next 20 years.
Q. Andre, you had a great point about Amir Khan, how fighting is more — he has the information, but it’s more about the implementation. Why do you think that is? For both of you guys, if you want to piggyback that question, why do you think that is?
ANDRE WARD: You can focus outside the ring. Lack of focus outside the ring will lead to a lack of focus inside the ring. You can point to efficiency, in the way you start. You can rope and pull for a lot of different things, but nobody really fully knows what that missing link is.
But it’s clear when there’s a link missing, a wire missing that’s stopping the whole mental functionality that he needs to go from round 1 to round 12, the way he needs to. Doesn’t mean he won’t get hit or dropped or have moments, but it’s not a catastrophe all of a sudden. That’s a lack of focus.
Personally, I know it’s easier said than done, but I actually did it so I can say it. I saw what Canelo was doing before he did it. I knew that was the shot he wanted.
And I could see Amir Khan slowly getting drained by the body shots, by the foot pressure, by Canelo cutting the ring off. Even the shots that Canelo missed took a lot out of Amir because he was able to work so hard to get out of the way, but then he could hear the punch whizzing by his face.
That’s all for us to dream. And then I would see Canelo doing the things he likes to do where he’ll slick a jab out to the side just to get your attention over there as a diversion but the shot he really wants is the right hand.
So I saw it coming, but for whatever reason in that moment, or in those moments, it’s been very, very difficult for Amir Khan to process what’s happening, compute it, and then make the adjustment.
TIM BRADLEY: What he just said, I think it’s a technical flaw in that Amir Khan still has that amateur pedigree, never really escaped it. He throws combinations. He opts in, opts out with combinations. He’s a one-trick pony. He has the speed, he has good punching power in his right hand, but for some apparent reason, he doesn’t have the sense of judging distance. So you see Amir Khan every now and then, there’s knockouts. You see him standing still, coming in, getting out, trying to escape from a shot and gets hit in the process or gets hit while in the process of punching.
And that has a lot to do with how he was taught. As far as discipline goes, staying focused, staying concentrated, that’s just something that you have to practice. You have to practice that in the gym.
That’s the reason why I think going back to Virgil, Virgil Hunter is more cerebral. He’s about the fundamentals and getting into his fighter’s head and controlling them to do what they need to do to win a fight, a round like this.
And that’s the reason why I think Kahn has a really good chance of winning this fight because he’s with Virgil. And if he can just stay focused for every minute of every round, I think he can compete with Terence Crawford with the skill set that he brings and also the hand speed and power.
Q. Both you guys have had signature wins in your careers. Obviously you guys are a first round hall of famers. For Terence Crawford to obviously legitimize himself as number one pound-for-pound, is this fight with Amir Kahn, is this the signature win that you guys think he needs to solidify himself as number one?
ANDRE WARD: I think that both these guys, I think Khan and Crawford needs this fight. The reason why Crawford needs this fight is he needs a marquee name on his resume.
And the fact that Amir Khan was the only that was willing to step up and face him in the welterweight division, you can’t dismiss the fact that Crawford, hey, I’m stepping up, this is what I get. None of these other guys want to fight me. So if it’s Amir Khan, then so be it. But the fact that Khan hasn’t lost in the welterweight division yet, the fact that Khan has a good name, you know, he’s fighting Crawford, I don’t think that — just put it this way, if Crawford doesn’t get rid of Khan, then there’s going to be a lot of people talking.
A lot of people are going to be talking. And probably including yourself, because when you really look at the landscape, when you really look at the landscape of the welterweight division — you know, Danny García, Thurman and Errol Spence — all these guys should, if you match them up with Khan, should knock him out. There’s a lot of pressure on Crawford to get this knockout.
TIM BRADLEY: I already have Terence Crawford at the top of my list, so I don’t think he’s this victory to solidify. In my mind he solidified at least at the moment. But I do think this is good for the naysayers. This is good for the record to have a guy like Amir Khan on the record if he’s successful on Saturday. I think it does a lot for just popularity. There are some Amir Khan fans that if Terence wins will become Terence Crawford fans. And there’s some people who loosely follow the sport that will tune in because they like Amir, they’re hearing a lot about the promotion, and they’ll tune in and become a Terence Crawford fan.
When you’re facing a guy with a big name, even though, like Tim said, Khan hasn’t fought a top welterweight to this point, he still has the name recognition from the Olympics, to everything he’s done as a pro. He still brings the UK with him. He still brings the European market. I think it will do more for his namesake than it will for anything else.
Q. Terence Crawford a while back made a very, very strong claim about black fighters having to be more vociferous or more boisterous to get the recognition. What do you guys think on that? Do you think that he was fair in that statement?
ANDRE WARD: Listen, I’ll say this, and I’ve talked about this in the past, there has been a difference. If you look — it’s not every media outlet. It’s not the order of the day as it pertains to boxing, but there are times, and I’ve experienced it, and studied the sport long before I became a professional, I’ve studied the Floyd Mayweathers and studied certain things in certain fighters throughout the course of their careers.
And obviously I had my own experience when I turned pro. There are moments where smiling and waving and being soft-spoken doesn’t seem to be enough at times for African-American fighters and then you will have fighters who may come from another country who come to the United States, the land of opportunity and maybe they don’t speak English and they’re still learning their English, they get promoted and they get pushed. You don’t always see that with an African-American fighter and some of that has to do — some of that is not on the press. Some of that is not on the media, it’s on African-Americans. Its on, you know when you look at like Floyd Mayweather, Floyd Mayweather was Pretty Boy Floyd for many years. He wasn’t accepted as Pretty Boy Floyd. He didn’t sell Pay-Per-Views as Pretty Boy Floyd. But when he became the villain and became Money Mayweather, then all of a sudden this is a guy we’d love to hate and we’ll tune in to watch him lose. It worked for him.
Personally, me, I wasn’t willing to compromise my beliefs. I wasn’t willing to compromise who I was as a person, and I was — I always fought in my career with the end in sight. I knew — I knew instinctively the day is going to come when I walk away from this sport, and what am I left with? I wasn’t willing to sacrifice being able to go to my kids’ school and be respected.
I wasn’t willing to create some monster that I was going to have to live with when my career was over for the sake of selling a few more Pay-Per-Views and selling a few more seats.
That was my stance on it. So now you have Terence Crawford who kind of feels the same way. He’s a soft-spoken guy, and I think the question he’s asking — that’s not for me to answer — is why don’t I get this? Why don’t I get the respect I deserve or at least to the level in which I feel I deserve it, even though I’m soft-spoken when maybe guys over here get it and they’re soft-spoken.
So yes, I have seen some of this. I’ve spoken about this in the past. But I want to make it clear, it is not for every media outlet. And it’s not for every fan. There are a lot of objective fans. And there are media members who do a great job and they’re objective and race never comes into the equation; it’s just about the fighters and how good they are and what they’ve done and haven’t done, and that’s where it should be and that’s where it should stay.
TIM BRADLEY: I just think it’s funny you say that because Floyd Mayweather got criticism for many years and still is getting criticism because he’s a defensive fighter and people say the style he runs, he’s always running, he’s not entertaining.
But you’ve got a good like Terence Bud Crawford that’s knocking out everybody he gets in the ring with and still not getting the exposure he feels and some people feel that he deserves, rightly deserves. All I can tell you is that all he needs to continue to do is do his job and he can worry about everything else, let somebody else worry about everything else because Terence Crawford continuously delivers and it doesn’t matter who he fights or what he does, he still doesn’t get the recognition that he feels and that I feel as well.
It’s just a process, man. I’ve been in it. When I fought, I fought guys — still my career right now, after my career people try to downplay what I’ve done in the sport of boxing. And I gotta bring it to their attention and tell them like, hey, I’ve done this, I’ve done this, you must have forgotten.
It’s really quick for people to not remember, to forget once you leave the sport, what a person did at their time, at their era. In their generation. So I don’t know what it is, bro. I don’t know why it’s this way, but it is.
ANDRE WARD: And I’ll just add to what Tim said and also add to what I said earlier, the race thing is very tricky. And you have to be very, very sensitive, because you may not be getting credit for a particular fight you won or just in general you may not be getting your just do, and it’s not always race. You have to be very careful. That’s a heavy coat to put on any one person.
That’s a heavy coat to put on a particular writer or a particular website or particular YouTube blogger. If you don’t have real proof that that person is a racist, you have to be very careful to put that kind of thing out there. I personally try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
And I may have a thought about something but it’s not something that I’m going to speak about, because again you’ve got be very careful about that.
But that being said, I stand by what I said earlier throughout the course of my life and how I’ve studied the sport in that particular area about guys, some guys being soft-spoken.
And let me just sum it up this way: There’s a notion that if you don’t do a certain thing, if you’re not Floyd Mayweather-esque, if you’re not throwing money at the camera, you’re not Tim Bradley (laughter), talking about a fighter, building up a fighter, if you’re not doing that and not showing us your house, you’re not showing us your Bentley, if you’re not showing us your jewelry then, you know what, you’re boring; we shouldn’t tune in to watch you.
But then it’s not always the case on the other side. That’s what Terence is saying. I have seen some of that. I can subscribe to some of it. But I will not say that every piece of criticism, every critique, every person that’s not giving you your just due is a racial issue. They just may not like you as a fighter.
And you have to live with that. So it’s a very fine line to walk. And I’ll personally try to be very, very careful about this. Listen, I’ve spoken about this, I’m a biracial kid, like I’m not pro black and people get mad at me when I say that. I don’t have a preference towards people. I prefer everyone. And I love everyone. And if there’s a white person that’s in the wrong, well, that needs to be addressed. If there’s a black person that’s in the wrong, they need to be addressed. So it’s a very fine line — I know it’s uncomfortable for people to talk about, but Terence has some points in what he’s saying, for sure.
Q. How close do you think is Teofimo Lopez to being the same level of Lomachenko? And how good is it for boxing that these young guys are calling out the big guys like Lomachenko?
ANDRE WARD: We don’t know how close he is. This is unscripted. You don’t know until they fight the fight. And this is something that I told Teofimo’s father today in the fighters meeting, I said, I respect what you guys are saying.
And the eagerness to want to face not just another champion but to face arguably the best fighter in the world in Lomachenko. I said but you do know that it’s — I said — I think I prefaced it by saying, phrased it by saying: Do you know the magnitude of what you’re demanding? In other words, I can give you a list of young fighters who took that big step up one fight too soon and they were ruined.
You see some guys like Muhammad Ali when he fought Sonny Liston. He was The Big Bear. He was feared. Everybody thought Ali was going to get killed. And look at Floyd Mayweather and Genaro Hernandez.
You look at those types of fights where they took the leap, people thought they were crazy but they were actually the ones that were right and they were geniuses.
It’s a very fine line between being right and being wrong, but they’re great consequences or there’s great reward if you’re right. We don’t know. He has to fight the fight. I hope he’s seeing what he’s telling everybody he’s seeing. I’m talking about Teofimo’s father.
But it’s not going to be an easy task for him to face Lomachenko. Lomachenko is who he is, and he’s in the discussion as one of the best in the world for a reason. It’s not easy, but I do respect the fact that he’s willing to take that leap. He just better be right about it.
TIM BRADLEY: For me, I like what Teofimo is doing. I like the fact that he wants to challenge the best guys out there. I think it’s too premature.
I think he needs to win a world championship first and then move in position if he wants to fight Loma, then he can fight him.
You have to earn your stripes before you get that praise from me. I see the skill set. He’s very skillful. He’s been in there with memorable competition.
The competition hasn’t been that great. He’s going to get tested Saturday night and see how well he performs. And then from there we’ll make our assessment and go from there. But, like I said, he needs a championship first in order to get a shot at Vasiliy Lomachenko in the near future.
Is Bud Battling Bob?
By: Kirk Jackson
In the past, questions regarding the Nebraska-bred, three-division world champion, posed on many occasion, years ago and since went unanswered.
These very same questions, remain ever-present now, as the fighter affectionately known as “Bud” prepares for his first pay-per-view event of this year as he faces Amir Khan at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
These lingering, unrequited questions – where is the promotion and where is the love for Terence “Bud” Crawford?
The reigning pound-for-pound No.1 fighter continues to fight without the proper fanfare, promotion and appreciation an athlete recognized by many spectators and experts as the one of the best fighters this generation should not accustomed to.
Crawford (34-0, 25 KO’s), so far amassing six world titles across three weight divisions (135, 140, 147), while becoming the eighth fighter to become undisputed champion in his/her weight class, unifying all four of the titles at junior welterweight, stakes claim as the best fighter in the sport.
“I am the best boxer in the world – hands down. I can box at range or fight close up, whatever’s needed. I can box equally as well on the back foot or the front foot and I have very good sideways movement. I’m a southpaw who is just as comfortable when switching to orthodox,” Crawford told Daily Mail.
“I have hand speed as well as punching power and I am excellent defensively I’m an intelligent fighter who adapts to any opponent. I believe I am the complete boxer so, yes, I think I’m the No 1 pound-for-pound.”
While Crawford solidified himself as one of the greats of this current era, as a top dog amongst his contemporaries, the wealth of acknowledgement and adoration amongst the casual observer escapes him.
Crawford headlines a pay-per-view for the second time in his professional career and for the first time across ESPN pay-per-view.
Crawford is promoted by Top Rank Boxing. This promotional company is headed by lawyer/boxing promoter Bob Arum and this promotional company behind Crawford, has a multi-media deal with ESPN.
On August 26, 2017, ESPN officially announced a four-year arrangement to become the exclusive broadcaster of Top Rank bouts in the United States and Canada.
The fights are to be circulated through ESPN’s television and digital platforms (including Spanish-language ESPN Deportes), the ESPN+ subscription streaming service, and pay-per-view. ESPN broadcast 18 cards in the first year of the deal. Most recently as of August of last year, ESPN announced an extension of the agreement through 2025 – same year Crawford’s contract with Top Rank ends.
The question begs, is Top Rank and ESPN properly promoting the fight? Aside from a brief feature on ESPN’s First Take, the network hardly mentions the fight.
This past Monday, Top Rank finally released the countdown video and this past Thursday ESPN+ released a subscriber friendly breakdown show titled Ring Science, featuring ESPN analyst Andre Ward.
— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) April 18, 2019
On the opposite of the spectrum as an example, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KO’s) made an appearance during this year’s NCAA Final Four across a featured segment, generating roughly 13.77 million viewers. Wilder of course is advised and promoted through different representation.
ESPN and its network affiliates has a deal with the National Basketball Association, broadcasting NBA games through the regular season and throughout the playoffs. The NBA playoffs are in full swing, why isn’t Crawford featured and exposed more towards the ESPN audiences?
Another example to analyze is while fighting under the Top Rank banner, Manny Pacquiao was promoted extensively by Arum. Albeit his name was conveniently attached to the biggest pay-per-view attraction in sport (Floyd Mayweather) and subsequently other pay-per-view attractions such as Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya and even preceding those names, guys such as Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera.
The fact remains, Pacquiao was heavily promoted, celebrated and relished the benefits of his professional success and collective promotional efforts from Arum and others.
Crawford has yet to hit that mark, nor receive similar support. All is not lost however. The shining light, is the chance Crawford links up with a up-and-coming super-star at some point in the near future.
Coincidently, Crawford has a dancing partner, who happens to be another top welterweight and pound-for-pound contemporary. That fighter is IBF champion, Errol “The Truth” Spence (25-0, 19 KO’s).
“I want the fight. Let me just say that right now,” Crawford told TMZ Sports in reference to facing Spence. “Just to show the world I’m the best welterweight in the division.”
Crawford realizes a match against Spence will be considered his legacy fight.
“The Truth” is his Marvelous Marvin Hagler, his Sugar Ray Leonard, his Tommy Hearns. Ostensibly, Arum agrees and views Spence as the main opponent for Crawford’s legacy at the weight.
“They have one fighter, Errol Spence,” Arum said to The Los Angeles Times.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Errol Spence wants the fight as much as Crawford wants it. So if Terence wins, I’ll call Al Haymon and work to sit down and make the fight. It’s not rocket science that this has to happen. We can sit down and make the fight in one day just like we did for Mayweather-Pacquiao. If a promoter blocks that fight, he ought to be ashamed.”
The legendary promoter echoed sentiments of the fighters, trainers, fans, anyone encompassed in the world of boxing and familiar with Spence and Crawford.
Crawford vs. Spence is the fight to make, but Khan should not be disrespected as an afterthought.
The old adage is true, fights are not won on paper and Khan is a former world champion. And if Crawford is to get past Khan, it’s not a guarantee Crawford vs. Spence happens.
It can be argued Arum kept the Mayweather-Pacquiao from occurring sooner, at its height (as far as physical primes for each respective fighter goes).
Heck, what kept the fight between Crawford and Pacquiao from happening? Crawford mentioned many times over the years his desire to fight Pacquiao – much to Freddie Roach’s chagrin.
For whichever reason, in spite of sharing the same promotional company for many years, the fight between Crawford and Pacquiao never materialized. Crawford was never presented his opportunity to attempt seizing the torch from one of boxing’s icons.
Due to the Nebraskan’s contract with Top Rank, he may never encounter an opportunity to take center stage.
This is not to suggest Crawford is not happy with his current deal and overall set-up with Top Rank. Upon resigning with Top Rank in collaboration with ESPN, Crawford voiced his pleasure with the deal.
“I am the best fighter in the world, hands down. ESPN is the biggest brand in sports, and Top Rank is the biggest promotional company in boxing,” Crawford said. “This was a no-brainer for me and my team. All of the super fights that the world wants to see will happen. Mark my words. Like I’ve said before, I want all of the champions in the welterweight division.”
The issue is the difficulty of fan-friendly fights, particularly in the welterweight division featuring Crawford and the elite fights of that class.
Nearly all of the other welterweight champions belong to manager Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions stable. The PBC recently entered a long-term deal to televise its fights on Showtime and Fox. Top Rank is with ESPN and typically fighters compete exclusively on their respective networks. Which means slim chances of securing Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence, Adrien Broner, Manny Pacquiao (again), etc.
The concern also revolves around the promotional aspect regarding the game’s top talent.
“Bud” is an affectionate term used to address Crawford. It’s been the case since his youth. But the term bud also holds significance to Crawford’s situation.
The definition of a bud, is a small swelling that is underdeveloped or not yet fully developed. Bud can also come in the form of plantation for example; a bud can refer to a tiny flower, not yet opened or reached maturity.
From an in-ring performance standpoint, “Bud” is at the pinnacle of his prowess. Regarding earning potential and recognition from an overall tycoon standpoint, former Top Rank fighters such as Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather, Cotto and Pacquiao serve as examples impersonation.
But every situation varies for each fighter. Time will indicate how “Bud” blossums.
Top Rank on ESPN PPV Preview: Crawford vs. Khan, Stevenson vs. Diaz
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City will be the host site of Top Rank Promotions’ latest Pay Per View (PPV) offering. Terence “Bud” Crawford, one of the sports pound for pound greats, is slated to face off against international star Amir Khan.
This card will be distributed by Top Rank Promotions in conjunction with ESPN.
The undercard will feature several of Top Rank’s brightest prospects. The co-main event will be between Shakur Stevenson and battle tested veteran Christopher Diaz in the featherweight division. Other Top Rank prospects such as Teofimo Lopez, Felix Verdejo, and Carlos Adames will be featured on Saturday’s card.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Shakur Stevenson (10-0) vs. Christopher Diaz (24-1); Featherweight Division
Shakur Stevenson is probably the best prospect to come out of the United States Olympic team since Errol Spence Jr.
Stevenson is only twenty one years old and has never faced an opponent with a losing record. However, he will be facing the toughest test of his career when he squares off against Christopher Diaz on Saturday night.
Diaz is three years older than Stevenson and is in the midst of his athletic prime. Stevenson will have a two inch height advantage and a four inch reach advantage over Diaz.
Both boxers are known for having some pop in their punches. Stevenson has six stoppage victories and has stopped four of his past five opponents. Diaz has sixteen stoppage victories, and four of his past five fights resulted in a stoppage victory.
Stevenson has never been defeated and has beaten the likes of Jessie Cris Rosales, Viorel Simion, and Carlos Ruiz. He’s also been extremely active. He fought once in 2019, five times in 2018, and four times in 2017.
Diaz has defeated the likes of Braulio Rodriguez, Bryant Cruz, and Angel Luna. His lone loss was to Masayuki Ito in July of 2018. He fought three times in 2018 and three times in 2017.
Stevenson does have a significant edge in amateur experience. Diaz has no notable international amateur accomplishments, while Stevenson was a former US National Amateur Champion as well as a silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
This should be a good test for Stevenson. He may be distracted with his latest legal issues with pending assault charges, but he’ll be fighting near his hometown of Newark, New Jersey and hasn’t shown many signs of weakness in the ring since his professional debut.
Stevenson should emerge victorious, but Diaz will likely not get stopped.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Terence Crawford (34-0) vs. Amir Khan; WBO Welterweight Title (33-4)
Terence Crawford is currently the best pure boxer that Top Rank has under contract. However, it’s his drawing power as a pay per view star is debatable. But Top Rank should have a better idea of his ability to draw pay per view buys after Saturday’s fight.
Crawford is 31 years old and still in his athletic prime, and Amir Khan is only one year older and also still in the middle of his prime. Khan will have a very slight half an inch height advantage over Crawford, while Crawford will have about a three inch reach advantage.
Crawford does have an edge in power over Khan. He has twenty five stoppage victories, and has stopped his past five opponents. Khan has twenty stoppage wins, but he also has three stoppage losses.
Crawford has been fairly active recently. He fought twice in 2018 and twice in 2017. Khan has not been very active. He fought twice in 2018, but did not fight at all in 2017 and has only fought four times since 2015.
Khan does have an edge in amateur experience. He was a silver medalist in the 2004 Summer Olympics, while Crawford has success as an amateur in the US National Circuit, including a US National PAL Championship.
Crawford has beaten the likes of Jose Benavidez Jr., Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Henry Lundy, Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns, and Breidis Prescott. Prescott is a common opponent that was able to stop Amir Khan.
Khan has defeated the likes of Samuel Vargas, Phil Lo Greco, Chris Algieri, Devon Alexander, Luis Collazo, Julio Diaz, Carlos Molina, Zab Judah, Marcos Maidana, Paul Malignaggi, Dmitriy Salita, and Marco Antonio Barrera. His losses were to Breids Prescott, Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia, and Saul Alvarez.
Khan’s speed can give many boxers problems, but Crawford is an exceptional counter puncher who’s hand speed can match Khan. Additionally, Crawford’s knockout power will likely give Khan’s questionable chin issues.
This may be the last time we see Amir Khan in a big meaningful pay per view fight. Expect Crawford to emerge victorious with another stoppage victory.
ESPN+ Boxing Results: Lomachenko and Ramirez Dominate In Victory
By: Hans Themistode
As expected, Vasyl lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs) absolutely destroyed Anthony Crolla (34-7-3, 13 KOs). The contest took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
No one expected Crolla to stand a chance and that is exactly how it played out tonight. Lomachenko started off fast. In the opening round he came out aggressive, landing big shots while not giving Crolla a chance to land something in response. In the following round it was much of the same. Crolla just couldn’t get his offense going. Round three was an utter beating. Lomachenko forced his opponent to the ropes and unleashed a barrage of punches. What followed shortly after was a bizarre sequence.
Lomachenko landed a ton of shots which had Crolla in serious trouble. The referee looked on closely as though he wanted to stop the fight. Crolla did not throw a punch in return but he did manage to block the majority of shots coming his way. Shortly after Lomachenko continued dishing out his beating the referee stepped in and seemed to wave off the contest. Lomachenko jumped on the ropes and celebrated. To the surprise of many the match was not over. Instead the ref was simply giving Crolla a standing ten count. It confused many fans in the crowd as it seemed as though Crolla’s gloves never actually touched the floor. It was a confusing sequence but Crolla was given another chance to continue the fight.
The following round Lomachenko wasted no time finishing off his man. Another strong attack by Lomachenko resulted in Crolla hitting the canvas face down. The referee immediately called off the match.
There is no sugar coating what took place tonight, it was a mismatch, non-competitive, just a terrible fight. Lomachenko didn’t prove anything tonight. What happened tonight was expected.
Anthony Crolla was not the only one who was overwhelmed tonight. Tommy Carpency (29-7-1, 18 KOs) was dominated tonight in the co main event by Gilberto Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs). It was the first fight for Ramirez at Light Heavyweight and he proved that he can become a force in the division. From the start Ramirez dictated the pace of the fight.
It took Ramirez only four rounds to stop Carpency. After the contest it seemed as though Carpency was in a car wreck. That isn’t just hyperbole either. Ramirez dominated the action. He could be knocking on the door of a title shot in his new division in the not to distant future.
It was a night filled with mismatches. Both Gilberto Ramirez and Vasyl Lomachenko looked impressive tonight. Let’s all hope that we will see both of these fighters back in the ring soon but this time against much better opposition.
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Lomachenko vs. Crolla, Ramirez vs. Carpency
By: Hans Themistode
Vasiliy Lomachenko, (12-1, 9 KOs) will once again have his skills on full display come Friday night. The unified Lightweight champion will have both his WBA and WBO titles on the line when he takes on former title holder Anthony Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs). This isn’t the high profile match fans were expecting to see Lomachenko in but nonetheless it’s what we’re getting.
Since losing back to back bouts against Jorge Linares, Crolla has rebounded nicely with three straight victories. Those wins weren’t just against unknown opponents either. Ricky Burns, Edson Ramirez and Daud Yordan aren’t exactly murderers row but they are more than respectable opposition.
The former WBA belt holder has faced his fair share of great fighters. However, in the case of Lomachenko, he will be facing someone who is unanimously recognized as the best fighter on the planet.
Most have already ruled Crolla out, and with good reason. In just 13 professional fights Lomachenko has plowed through the competition. With two Olympic gold medals, over 390 wins in his amateur days and multiple titles in several divisions, Lomachenko is a talent we have seldom ever seen.
Crolla has heard it all before. He has always been doubted. He was never supposed to box again following his traumatic accident in 2014 where he attempted to stop burglars at a neighbors home. Crolla beat the odds. How about his title challenge against Darleys Perez? He was given no chance, yet he not only won but he stopped the champion in the fifth round. Crolla than went on to defeat Ismael Barroso in his first title defense when yet again many thought he could not get it done.
His matchup against Lomachenko follows the same theme that has followed him his entire career. Doubt him if you want, but he may just beat the odds yet again come Friday night.
In the co main event we have an interesting matchup. Current WBO Super Middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez, (39-0, 25 KOs) is moving up to Light Heavyweight to take on Tommy Carpency, (29-6-1, 18 KOs).
On paper it is a matchup that Ramirez should dominate. However, with the current champion moving up in weight the added pounds could play a factor in the contest.
Since winning the WBO Super Middleweight title in 2016, Ramirez has had a forgettable reign. Through no fault of his own he has not been able to secure big fights. Although his matchup with Carpency is not considered a significant matchup by any stretch of the imagination, it is a contest where if all goes well, could see Ramirez challenge for a title later this year.
Ramirez has the height, power and skill to make an impressive run in his new division. Carpency on the other hand isn’t looking to simply collect a paycheck come Fight night. He has rattled off three consecutive wins and will be looking to once again challenge for a world title.
Carpency, to his credit, picked up the biggest win of career in 2014 as a massive underdog when he took on former pound for pound fighter Chad Dawson. It will take that sort of spirited effort from Carpency if he intends to defeat Ramirez.
A win for either man could place them in title contention.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Adames, Donaire, Lomachenko, Crawford, Carto, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of April 2nd to April 9th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Top Rank on ESPN to Bring Vasily Lomachenko vs. Anthony Crolla Lightweight World Title Bout April 12th Exclusively on ESPN+
One of the biggest boxing events of the year will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ on April 12 at 11 p.m. ET from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The reigning WBA/WBO lightweight – and widely regarded pound-for-pound –champion, Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs), is set to defend his unified lightweight world title against mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs). The undercard bouts will also stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 8 p.m. ET. All the evening’s fights will be available in Spanish on ESPN+.
Friday’s Top Rank on ESPN card coincides with the one-year anniversary of the launch of ESPN+ – the leading direct-to-consumer sports streaming service.
Calling the action for ESPN will be Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), former two-division world titleholder Tim Bradley (analyst) and former pound-for-pound two-division world titleholder and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward (analyst). The on-location desk team will feature analysis from Mark Kriegel and Max Kellerman, and the ESPN+ Spanish coverage includes play-by-play from Jorge Eduardo Sánchez and former boxing champion Juan Manuel Márquez as analyst.”
ESPN’s official coverage of fight week kicked off Sunday, April 7, with Countdown to Lomachenko vs. Crolla, where viewers follow rival boxers Vasiliy Lomachenko and Anthony Crolla as they prepare for a must-see world title fight on April 12. See inside the training camp of pound-for-pound superstar Lomachenko as he trains at his home base in Oxnard, Calif., while former world champion Crolla trains to return the WBA title he once held to its rightful owner.
ESPN.com will have the fight covered throughout the week with a feature on Anthony Crolla from Nick Parkinson, a unique look at how the world’s best boxing trainers would prepare their fighters to face Vasiliy Lomachenko from Steve Kim and a complete guide to the fight from Dan Rafael. Rafael and Kim will be at the fight offering their unique insight as the action goes down.
Christian Carto Named the “One to Watch”
Local bantamweight boxer Christian Carto won four straight bouts in 2018 and improved his record to 17-0, with 11 KOs. These four fights included two local main events, and two supporting spots on big nationally televised cards. This was a year of development for Carto, as he went the distance in all four fights, mixed it up a bit more than we’re used to seeing, and faced a tougher level of competition. Along the way, Carto also established himself as one of the biggest box office attractions of the local scene.
For these factors, as well as his exciting style and promising future, Carto earned the award as “The One to Watch”, and will take home his first-ever Briscoe Award on Sunday, April 14, 2019, at Xfinity Live! in South Philly.
In his first start of 2019, Carto suffered his first professional set back, but for many reasons, he remains the fighter that everyone continues to watch, perhaps even more so after his most recent outing.
The awards, named after Philly middleweight boxing legend Bennie Briscoe, have been recognizing the best achievements of the Philly boxing scene since 2007.
This year’s event will be held on Sunday, April 14, 2019, at Xfinity Live! in South Philadelphia (1100 Pattison Avenue), 1-4 PM. Tickets for the Briscoe Awards cost $10 each, and can be purchased in advance at BriscoeAwards.com, or by calling 609-377-6413.
The Briscoe Awards are presented by Philly Boxing History Inc., a 501c3 Non-Profit organization, dedicated to preserving and honoring the great legacy of boxing in and around the city of Philadelphia. For more information, call John DiSanto at 609-377-6413.
Donaire: “I can’t wait to the to show the crowd what we’ve been working on”
Philippine-American Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ Donaire feels well prepared and looks forward to his World Boxing Super Series 118lb Semi-Final against South Africa’s WBO Champ Zolani Tete at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA, USA on April 27.
“Lafayette, Louisiana is definitely going to be an experience,” said Donaire, a native of the Philippines who moved to the Bay Area in California at the age of 10 and today lives and trains in Las Vegas.
“There is so much culture all over the United States and I am I’m blessed to be in a tournament that allows me to visit a different state. I’ve heard the food is amazing and I can’t wait to try it out after the fight.”
36-year-old Donaire is perhaps the biggest name in the star-studded WBSS Season 2 line-up having held eight world titles by the main four boxing sanctioning bodies. Known as “The Filipino Flash” due to exceptionally hand speed and extraordinary punching power.
The former multiple-time world champion in four weight classes and current WBA Super Bantamweight Champion came down from 126lb to compete at 118lb for the first time in seven years to enter the WBSS.
In the quarter-final in Glasgow, Scotland Nov. 3rd last year against Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett, tournament No. 1 seed, Donaire felt he was in control and would have taken home the victory in the normal fashion if his opponent hadn’t been forced to retire after four rounds with a lower back injury.
How is the training going, can you give us some insight from your training camp?
“Training started about two weeks after the Burnett fight. We didn’t know when the fight would be scheduled but we knew the opponent so we stayed head on for Tete. I implemented new training methods that we haven’t tried before and have had a smooth training camp in Las Vegas.”
How would you describe your shape and preparations compared to your last fight?
“I believe the major difference is building upon what we had in the Burnett fight. I made sure to continue to stay disciplined with my diet and continue to be at the gym. As I said, it wasn’t completely 100% boxing throughout and we did implement training outside of the boxing gym and different drills as well. We made sure to have rest when needed so we could turn it up in these last couple weeks.”
How do you see the match-up with Tete?
“Tete is a formidable opponent. He is tall, he is fast, he is slick, but I am a fighter that can fight any kind of style. I can’t wait to the to show the crowd what we’ve been working on.”
April 20: Carlos Adames and Frank Galarza Headlines Packed Crawford-Khan Undercard
One of the 154-pound division’s biggest punchers — Dominican sensation Carlos “El Caballo Bronco” Adames — is set to make a thunderous statement April 20 at Madison Square Garden.
NABF champion Adames will defend his belt against Brooklyn native Frank Galarza in the 10-round featured bout on the Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan undercard broadcast, which will begin at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT on ESPN2 and in Spanish on the ESPN app. Adames vs. Galarza will also be contested for the vacant NABO 154-pound belt.
Adames vs. Galarza will headline a scheduled five-fight broadcast, which will lead into the Crawford vs. Khan pay-per-view extravaganza at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.
Details on how fans will be able to access the pay-per-view event will be announced at a later date.
“I am thrilled and proud to fight at Madison Square Garden once again. It is a great honor to be in action on such a big stage and on an important card like this one,” Adames said. “I have a new trainer, Robert Garcia, and we are working on a lot of new things. This will be the new era of ‘Caballo Bronco.’ Frank Galarza is a good, experienced fighter. I know he has faced good opposition and that he is training hard for this fight. It will be a very interesting fight because he will be battling against someone that wants to be one of the greats in the sport. I’m coming to make noise in the 154-pound division.”
“There is no better place for this fight to be than at The Garden,” Galarza said. “It’s a dream come true for me. I’m ready to show the world what I’m really made of. Carlos and I both are ranked in the top 15 in the WBO. He is coming to my backyard, and it’s going to be a great fight.”
Adames (16-0, 13 KOs) is 3-0 since signing with Top Rank in early 2018. He turned pro in 2015 after a nearly 300-fight amateur career and showed he belonged at the world-class level in July 2017, knocking down and scoring a shutout decision over former world champion Carlos Molina. His last two fights have lasted a total of five rounds, and he is coming off a third-round knockout over Juan Ruiz on Jan. 18 in Verona, N.Y.
Galarza (20-2-2, 12 KOs), from the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, overcame a troubled childhood and a brief 11-fight amateur career to become a longtime contender in the paid ranks. He began his career 17-0-2 before a sixth-round TKO loss to Jarrett Hurd, who is currently the unified 154-pound world champion. A close decision loss to Ishe Smith followed in September 2016, but Galarza has since resurrected his career, winning a trio of fights to set up this opportunity versus Adames.
In other action on the ESPN2 broadcast:
Former Indian amateur standout Vikas “The Indian Tank” Krishan (1-0, 1 KO) will take the next step in his professional journey against Noah Kidd (3-1-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round super welterweight fight. Krishan was a two-time Olympian for his home country and is the only Indian fighter to have won both the Asian and Commonwealth Games.
“As I continue my pro journey, it’s an honor to fight on such a significant card,” Krishan said. “There is a large Indian population in New York and New Jersey, and I can’t wait to see the support from my Indian people. It’s going to be a special night.”
Puerto Rican middleweight sensation Edgar Berlanga (9-0, 9 KOs) has scored nine consecutive first-round stoppages to begin his pro career. He will look to make it 10 for 10 versus Brazilian veteran Samir Dos Santos (37-15-3, 26 KOs) in an eight-rounder. The Brooklyn-born Berlanga has fought four times in New York City as a pro and will be making his Top Rank debut.
Bantamweight prospect Lawrence “BT” Newton (11-0, 7 KOs), a stablemate of Crawford’s, will face Jonathan Garza (7-2, 2 KOs), in a six-round showdown.
Larry Fryers (9-1, 3 KOs), a native of Ireland who now lives in New York, will look to make it four wins in a row against Dakota Polley (5-2, 2 KOs) in a super lightweight bout scheduled for six or four rounds.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Matchroom Boxing and Khan Promotions, tickets priced at $606, $406, $306, $206, $106, $81, and $56 (including facility fees) are on sale now and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.MSG.com.
Crawford, Khan, Arum Discuss April 20th Showdown
By: Sean Crose
“I really believe,” said iconic promoter Bob Arum on a recent conference call, “that the fight will be a tremendous, interesting, competitive fight. That’s why we made it. That’s the truth.” Arum was speaking of the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan battle, which is set to go down on the 20th of this month at Madison Square Garden in New York. The bout will be for Crawford’s WBO Welterweight Title, and will be aired live on Pay Per View, courtesy ESPN. Unwittingly or not, Arum admitted that the fight is a tough sell, as Khan, 33-4, is not seen by many as being too much of a threat for the 34-0 Crawford.
“I’ve been around over 50 years in this sport,” said the promoter, “and I know what makes a good fight, and what’s a competitive fight, and I’m telling you that Amir Khan versus Terence Crawford is a hugely competitive fight. Styles make fights, and this is the first pay per view event that we are doing with ESPN and we value tremendously our relationship with ESPN.” Despite what some may think of his chances, the talented veteran Khan, like Arum, exuded confidence on the call.
“I know I can win this fight with my boxing skills,” the fast-fisted 32 year old Englishman said, “being smart, and I can go in there and cause a big upset. I know I have a lot against me, but this is where I like to be.” Acknowledging he’s heading into the fight a man with the odds seemingly stacked him, Khan conceded that he’s happy to play the part. “This is where I like to be,” said Khan, “because I am the underdog. I am at my best when people are looking over me.”
Although he’s the fighter favored to win, Crawford made it clear on the call that he’s not willing to underestimate his opponent. “This is a big fight,” he said. “Amir Khan never lost in the welterweight division. He knows what he is doing in the ring. He boxes really good. He is really crafty. He is a veteran. This is going to be a tough fight.” The soft spoken Nebraskan went so far as to explain how he’s preparing to face the skilled Khan in the ring.
“He is a big welterweight,” Crawford admitted.“He has a big name in the sport of boxing. Right now, I give him a shot at the title. He has done some great things in the welterweight division. He has never lost at the welterweight division. We look at all of those types of things.” Yet, like Khan, defending champ Crawford clearly exuded confidence on the call.
“Amir Khan might be fast,” he said, “and he might have good movement, but I am a great boxer myself and I am not the slowest fighter by any means. I believe in my skills and I don’t believe that it is my punching power that is going to lead me to victory. I believe it is my whole overall skills and mindset that will lead me to victory on April 20.”
Crystina Poncher: Hard Work Does Pay Off
By: Hans Themistode
It is seldom to reach the pinnacle of your profession. Whether it be in the fast food industry, retail, the medical field or in this case sports journalism. Reaching the top or even getting near it for that matter is a difficult feat. For Crystina Poncher however she has managed to navigate through those muddy waters with style and grace.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Crystina currently is a host and reporter for the NFL. That alone would make anyone proud and satisfied. For Crystina however that wasn’t enough. She has also taken her talents to the world of boxing as she is a reporter and commentator for Top Rank. Let’s be honest here. Becoming a sports reporter and commentator is a difficult career path to take. It can be frustrating trying to find a great opportunity. That difficulty did not discourage her in the slightest as she has always dreamed of becoming a sports reporter.
“I knew from 13 years old that I wanted to be a sports reporter. I quit my job full time and just jumped into boxing.” Said Crystina.
Often times young kids dream of what they want to become. That however is the easy part. Actually going out and accomplishing it is where the difficulty lies. There is also a major elephant in the room, she is a woman. Boxing is a sport that has a scarcity in terms of women who report on it.
When she first came on to the boxing scene, some of the biggest names in the sport were taken a back by it.
“When I came to Top Rank she was one of the ones that used to interview me all the time,” said former multiple division weight champion Timothy Bradley. “I thought it was funny when she used to interview me. Cause I’m like what is this girl doing interviewing me? But she knows boxing. She’s been around it long enough to know boxing and I’m just so happy that she’s finally getting an opportunity to show what she truly can do.”
Forget about her being a woman. She is simply an outstanding reporter. For Crystina she has earned the respect of all of her peers for the hard work that she has put in over the years.
“She’s not just a good female broadcaster but she is a good broadcaster. A great broadcaster. And I really appreciate her being a forerunner in terms of women getting behind the mic and blazing a new path for women to be able to sit in the same seat that she is sitting in.” Said now retired pound for pound king Andre Ward.
This is much deeper then just following your dreams. This is also about setting a new standard for women all around the world that are hesitant to fully commit to the dreams that they deem is to lofty. Crystina understands the type of pressure that comes with her position. Not only is she not backing away from it but she is embracing it and taking it head on.
“There’s not a lot of women in the sport in general. I feel a responsibility with that pressure to represent for women. I want to show people that I am not here because of my looks. I have an education and a passion and a knowledge of this sport and that is how I got to where I am.”
If you think that Crystina can only inspire women than you are flat out wrong. Men can learn a thing or two from her as well. Her dedication, passion and never give up attitude is commendable and should be respected by everyone no matter the gender.
There is no doubt that she will continue to do an outstanding job because she works tirelessly at her craft. Everyone can see the work that she has put in to get to this stage.
Sure she has reached the mountain of her profession but if you think the work is now over then you are sadly mistaken. For Crystina Poncher this is only the beginning.
ESPN Boxing Preview: Gzozdyk vs. Ngumbu, Kavaliauskas vs. Robinson
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Oleksandr Gvozdyk will defend his WBC Light Heavyweight Title against Doudou Ngumbu in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN telecast.
This bout will air live on ESPN from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The co-main event will be between Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Ray Robinson in the welterweight division. The winner of this bout could have bigger bouts on the horizon against either Amir Khan or Terence Crawford.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
The undercard will feature fighters such as Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, Frederick Lawson, Jose Lopez, Christian Mbilli, and Cassius Chaney.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.