Ok Gang, sometimes there’s absolutely nothing to report or get your pajamas in a twist over. Our beloved sport knows how to placate business as usual and continue to manifest itself like rust or fungus when nothing spectacular is happening. What keeps up coming back for more is watching it implode while we calibrate the newly inked super matches that make us forget its ills. Occasionally, when there is a pyre of burnt opportunities we get treated to what tantamount as blessings from the boxing gods. The stars align so perfectly we can make peace with what’s lost in high expectation of what’s growing on the vine. Too many metaphors? Your reading a Lucci column baby, you want names and dates go study Wikipedia.
There are moments when the boxing universe is literally like stars orbiting each on separate paths and like NASA we predict which ones will collide. Add to that drama, cherry picking, trash talking cowboys, gutless promoters, clueless contenders, wannabe champions, exiting legends and just while you’re trying to clear away the debris along comes the supernovas.
Grab your highball glass filled with your favorite liquid and let’s toast the madness together. Here in no particular order is the current state of everything that laces up around you.
Bad news first as I reported Wednesday the sad passing of boxing’s legendary manager/trainer Lou Duva who was just two months shy of turning 95. Lou was an outspoken “personality” and advocate of boxer’s rights who championed causes for all fighters. Elected into International Boxing Hall of Fame he now belongs among the pantheon of greats who came before him.
Welterweight sensation Paulie Malignaggi has decided to hang up the gloves. Bravo Paulie. As the Romans used to say, “Vin, Vidi, Vici.” I came, I saw, I conquered. You had your moment in the sun, made bank and leaving on your own terms. Your expert analyst skills at Showtime keep you working and in public eye. The “Magic Man” leaves behind a 36-8, 7 KO’s ledger which belies how good his skills truly were. With only 7 stoppages Paulie was forced to box your ears off. On his best nights, he could drive you blind where you didn’t know if you should shit or wind your wristwatch. Cheers Paulo’, you did well Paisan.
Manny Pacquiao is in calendar limbo without a dance partner for spring. Fans were ice cold to the prospect of Pacman fighting Jeff Horn in what amounted to be nothing more than a tune up for the WBO and lineal welterweight champion. If anybody deserves a breather its Manny having hosted the ring with a galaxy of hall of famers. Manny not pleased with public reaction abruptly cancelled the fight when it was not building fan momentum. Manny ever the warrior asked on social media for fans to choose his next worthy foe. 41% voted long winded Amir Kahn who possesses the boxing skills to make this scrap entertaining. Kahn has been tagged with a suspect chin since 2008 when one Breidis Prescott removed him from competition and his senses in less than one minute. Manny has not stopped a foe since halting the great Miguel Cotto in the final minute of title match back in 2009. It’s safe to say with crossing your heart that this one would have went to scorecards. With nary a second to lose Pac has little to no time to find a suitable replacement. Here’s a “Glory Days” suggestion for July. Give Danny Garcia a call.
The former WBC champ who lost his belt last weekend to WBA champ Keith Thurman is in need of a high profile comeback. Freddie Roach Pac’s trainer has wanted this one for a long time. Most writers with clear insight give Danny little chance of beating Keith in rematch. It was apparent the few rounds Thurman lost he coasted. He gave away the final round for safety measures turning off some fans as Garcia was in desperate need of a stoppage to salvage fight. Its plausible Keith could have pitched a shutout. Against Manny, Garcia has the puncher’s edge on paper.
Since we are on the subject of Garcia, his often volatile dad Angel has now spoken out just days later and reversed his decision saying he wants a rematch. Ever see a gym video of Angel talking shop? The man is cool, normal and insightful. Yes, it’s me typing this. He just needs to get a handle on his temper when it concerns his own son’s future. Ask him to handicap a fight outside his involvement and he is a different cat altogether.
David Haye lost last weekend to Tony Bellew by TKO in 11th round in England. Haye did not blame a leg injury as an excuse but Achilles tendon was believed to be the culprit in aiding Bellew. This could be the game changer that takes Haye into retirement. I have not given David much space in my columns due to his infrequent fight schedule. The man kept himself in the public eye for years by calling out everyone but has been giving us little more than a bout a year for far too long. We wish him a speedy recovery and a chance at redemption.
Promoter extraordinaire Bob Arum of Top Rank who passed decade’s long rival Don King a dozen years back and left him without a kingdom or champion has spoken out on his number one money maker Manny Pacquiao. Bob is not interested in fighting Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence, JR. or Kell Brook. Manny you need to step up to the plate again and force his hand. No one is interested in a return bout with Tim Bradley or Juan Manuel Marquez. Both Manny and Bob know they are coming down to the end of the line in foreseeable future. There have long been rumors of matching Manny with Arum promoted junior welterweight sensation Terrence Crawford. There are rumors swirling around the HBO calendar that Crawford is penned in for a pay-per-view bout. Gents, what are we waiting for?
Kathy Duva is in search of a rematch date for Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward. Won’t recap that debacle but to say Ward was gifted with decision and lifted three belts from the popular Russian fighter who was making his ninth defense. June is rumored. Will update before it’s officially announced.
Tyson Fury gets some free press here because he’s a living icon to bad taste and all that is wrong with the sport. He announced a May comeback against an opponent yet to be determined. Badly out of shape and needing to shed seventy pounds makes you wonder just how delusional the mad king is. YouTube has captured him for all his athletic grace attempting to jump over a three foot fence. Fury stands 3 inches short of 7 feet! Fury unable to get his feet off the ground and jump under his own weight falls on his ass. Early prediction. Stay there. The day Joshua allows you to disgrace the sport more and face him he’ll put you on your ass again. The belts are gone, and they are never coming back. Hey Gypsy Warrior, it’s called “KARMA”!
Roy Jones, JR. beat a gent named Bobby Gunn last month. Gunn was a bare knuckle fighter playing Roy’s game of laced leather and rules. What’s Jones, JR. next gimmick to ensure victory. Hey, why not call out all-time great Michael Spinks? He’s only been retired since 1988… but I got my money on Spinks.
Quick shout to Ericson “The Hammer” Lubin. Keep an eye out for this kid as one to watch. Pressed for time with press coverage of the main event of Thurman/Garcia I was unable to give this kid his props for his one punch knockout of Jorge Cota. The 21 year old Floridian was favored to win but not in such dramatic fashion. He is now 18-0, 13 KO’s. The junior miiddleweight had a fine adversary in Cota, 25-2, 22 KO’s, who actually beat the count but declared unfit to continue by referee.
Onward, there is a handful of entertaining bouts ready to usurp the landscape this spring which promises to placate the madness and return fans back on the ticket line or with remote control in hand on date nights.
First up this weekend, middleweight David Lemieux, 36-3, 32 KO’s takes on Curtis Stevens, 29-5,21 KO’s in what should be a highly entertaining bout of two contenders who share the burden of having been stopped by champion Gennady Golovkin in failed title bids. HBO broadcasts March 11.
Next week needs no introduction the world over as the boxing world hovers over the aura surrounding possible fight of the year candidate of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin Vs Daniel Jacobs poetically held at Madison Square Garden in NYC and hosted by HBO PPV. The two best middleweights on the planet duel it out not just for the belts but both need each other to cement their legacies.
April gets under way with arguably the best boxer extent with the least credibility. Enter Vasyl Lomachenko, 7-1, 5 KO’s taking on respectable Jason Sosa, 20-1-4, 15 KO’s in a WBO Featherweight title match broadcast by HBO. Forget his record, watching Loma work is a privilege. In the ring, he has rewrote the book on defense and footwork. You can’t step to him; you can’t step away either.
April 22 features welterweights Shawn Porter facing Andre Berto. If this was back in the 80’s this would be typical free weekend programing for two gents vying for a title shot. Former champ Porter is in a must win situation here as a loss puts him further down the pecking order of 147 pounders and like Berto will reduce him to steppingstone status. If Shawn boxes behind a solid jab he could make life easy for himself instead of fighting the entire bout in “tank” mode. Porter is 26-2-1, 16 KO’s squaring off against Andre’s 31-4, 24 KO’s resume. Bout to be held at Barclay’s Center Brooklyn and broadcast on Showtime.
April 29 will host the return of the big men as Wlad Klitschko finally makes his way back into the ring after several injuries prevented his return after he lost his belts to comedic fraud Tyson Fury back in November 2015. Wlad will challenge IBF heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua in what should amount as the official passing of the torch. Joshua owns a sterling perfect record of 18-0, 18 KO’s. Wlad who will be coming off longest layoff of his career will enter ring with ledger of 64-4, 53 KO’s. Believe me when I tell you like his style or not that he is a future hall of famer, but along with that historic run comes age, rust, suspect chin, and calf problems. Bout televised by Skybox.
The following week ushers in the Mexican shootout between catch weight kings Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, JR. for bragging rights only. Last week the internet was abuzz with comedic rumor which infuriated thousands of fans who believe that the proposed 165 pound limit they contracted for would be for newly minted division created by WBC to highlight their fighters and giving way to more sanctioning fees. If this ever came to fruition it would make a mockery out of the hallowed middleweight division and every traditional tried and true belt holder who fought gallantly for the honor. Canelo boasts a record of 48-1-1, 34 KO’S. Chavez, JR. owns almost a carbon copy ledger at 48-1-1, 32 KO’s!
The biggest difference is Canelo has beaten the better fighters while Julio has bested the naturally bigger ones. What pisses off fans and annoys writers is the three year bullshit that Canelo isn’t a middleweight yet enters ring fight after fight at 170 pounds, often against blown up welterweights. His promoter Oscar De La Hoya never needed excuses or catch weights nor did he ever run from a challenge. The take it or leave it offer to “GGG” they presented is absurd. What’s Canelo going to do if he wants a middleweight belt? His legacy is riding on this decision. Oscar you’re playing with a man’s life here. Stop being so fucking greedy and over thinking it. Last December you made a sorry ass apology to fans for lack of getting the best fights made. You’re the problem! Now be the solution!
Getting more internet buzz and fans speculation with input is possibly the dark horse for fight of the year potential in the guise of Errol Spence, JR.’s challenge of IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook. This one seems as fifty/fifty pick em’ match as you’ll find all year. I already covered this wicked matchup of “the” two best welterweights around and given stats and prediction weeks ago. In that handicap, I gave a slight edge in hand speed to Spence, JR. Recent forays into studying film clips and I have to reverse my insight on that endeavor. Kell owns the faster hands. Since those weeks have elapsed the challenger’s camp has been publicly vocal about going for the knock out which made me add this to the equation.
While Errol comes forward and likes to chop at your ribs from either side breaking you down from southpaw stance, Kell fights well stepping backwards and counter punching with authority. The hard spear of a jab is used as both an offensive and defensive weapon. He has no problems facing off against the southpaw stance. His facial bone fracture should be twice as strong now that it’s healed. The pre-fascination of the Spence, JR. team thinking they need a knockout across the pond in Brook’s backyard may quite possibly work against them in their inexperience to plan to box it out. The more I investigate the odds the more I lean towards Brook. As of this writing the bout has not been announced with an official date and venue.
Rumor mill has WBC mandating their heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder fight number one contender Bermane Stiverne who lost the title to Wilder back in 2015 by decision. Wilder has made five successful if not sloppy defenses since then. As of this writing, Deontay was seeking a unification bout with undefeated WBO champ Joseph Parker.
If you haven’t caught the first installment of HBO’S 24/7 covering next week’s Golovkin/ Jacobs’s matchup you need to check your local listings. I highly recommend this insightful and touching portrait of the two champions behind the scenes.
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