Tuesday, December 20, 2011

B-Hop vs. Dawson, AGAIN?

A the WBC Convention, that concluded in Las Vegas Thursday, one of the many mandatory fights announced was a return bout between Bernard Hopkins and C had Dawson for the light heavyweight title that is with Hopkins.

Now the question is will Hopkins get into another tangle with Dawson? Hopkins, in a brief statement to this writer said, “There will be a major announcement soon.” He would not allude to who would be his next opponent, but the money says HBO would want to have rights to another Hopkins- Jean Pascal encounter.

Based on the first fight, which was ruled against Hopkins, then the title returned to him due to the WBC and California State Athletic Commission ruling a no contest, it makes sense for a second fight with Dawson.

Though a mandatory is usually the procedure when the sanctioning WBC calls for it, sometimes purse bids and politics get involved, that don’t make it happen. But this time, because Richard Schaefer and Golden Boy got the WBC to immediately review the first fight, it appears Hopkins may go with the plan. HBO has also expressed an interest in having a Hopkins- Pascal trilogy which may or may not sell as a pay-per-view fight.

Regardless, B-Hop continues to recover from the injured shoulder sustained in the Dawson fight, where an obvious push placed him on the canvas and caused a setback with his plans. Doctors have said Hopkins will be fit to fight within the next 90 days. The purse bids will come in, now that the WBC has made it official.
To which Hopkins said, “There is no quit in me. Does Dawson want to fight me again? That is what the public has to know.” Hopkins, the oldest fighter to hold a championship belt is elated that the WBC and California Commission made the right decision and expressed happy holiday wishes to all.

Martinez–Chavez Jr. Is NOT Set Yet

Sergio Martinez, the WBC Diamond Belt Champion and a title fight with WBC middleweight champion Julio Chavez Jr. is not definite as had been reported Thursday. The WBC also announced that mandatory defense for Chavez, but the politics got involved when Lou DiBella, promoter of Martinez influenced their decision.

Chavez has been rumored to take on Marco Antonio Rubio, Canelo Alvarez, or it could be James Kirkland or Carlos Molina. Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum, from all reports are not going to put Chavez in the ring with Martinez at any time soon. DiBella stated after the last Martinez title defense over Darren Barker, that he would no longer chase Arum for a fight with one of the champions in the Top Rank stable.

That includes Cotto or Chavez, and DiBella has been advocating that it is time for Martinez to be in big money fights. The answer to who will be the next opponent for Martinez will come Monday in New York City. DiBella has set a noon press sit down with Martinez and the media to discuss the next opponent, and it does not mean it will be Chavez Jr. for a March HBO date.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buzz Is - Ward Will Beat Froch

The surprising talk the last few days is that Andre Ward will defeat Carl Froch Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The buzz from media and fighters is that Ward will win on points. The year-end mega fight is also being classified as a Fight of the Year candidate.

Showtime got a prize to culminate the nearly two-year tournament that will determine who is the best at 168. Besides getting the Silver Cup, the WBA and WBC titles of Ward and Froch are on the line. The winner could get IBF champion, Lucien Bute, who opted to not enter the classic, which too many was never going to determine who was the superior super middleweight.

Ryan Taylor, middleweight from London, has been in the New York City area the past few days. Also promoted by Eddie Hearn, Taylor is a stable mate of Froch along with Darren Barker. And though, Taylor, 2-0, fighting again on a Hearn card in late January is not going against Froch, there is a sentiment of opinion that he also looks at Ward as being a dangerous opponent and could be victorious.
“Froch is going to have to work inside and be careful,” says Taylor. “It will be an interesting fight. I can tell you, Froch is strong. He throws a good combination and Ward will feel it. When they say this will be a good fight, believe it. Ward is capable of winning on points.”

So there is no surprise, the Super Six has culminated with a good final. Though, the surprise is that Ward and Froch are here, two of the original six that were not favored from the beginning.

Throwing The Punches

Bob Arum has been out of the office the past week trending to WBC convention developments. He will announce the upcoming Top Rank schedule Wednesday with plans for Manny Pacquiao, but not for Cotto,. Sources are saying, Cotto, at home enjoying the holidays in Puerto Rico, has still not re-signed his contract with Top Rank.

All of this leads to more speculation about Cotto, that he will go on his own and make the fight, the famous May 5, 2012 date that is supposed to be the next fight for Floyd Mayweather Jr. Cotto at the moment does not want anything to do with boxing and his plans. He is resting and enjoying the redemption win over Antonio Margarito, and numerous people close to Cotto have said, he has watched the fight more than one time since returning home…

Victor Ortiz won’t have much time to relax after the holidays as he goes into training for his next fight, a return bout with Andre Berto, February 11th from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas to be televised on Showtime. It is one of the first of many prominent fights that the network will have in 2012, with Golden Boy playing a major role.

Said Ortiz, “The first fight with Berto was drama, and our next will be just as good, and I will not disappoint as I truly believe the championship belongs to me.” Of course in September, it was Mayweather who took the WBC welterweight title from Ortiz. HBO did not get the fight. Ortiz is another fighter from the Golden Boy stable…

Come on Mike Tyson, what are you saying? A few days ago, Iron Mike was advocating a showcase of heavyweights 40 years or older… Top Rank is also knocking down reports that Juan Manuel Lopez will get a March or April date with Yurioris Gamboa at 127. Lopez has not been in the gym, home in Puerto Rico and dealing with personal issues.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Instant Replay Issue Gets Nod From WBC, Will Promoters Agree?

By Rich Mancuso

One of the prevailing issues of this boxing year, as a follower of the sport would know, is the controversial conclusion. It is not so much about the scoring at ringside which has always been a subjective part of boxing, rather the foul or discretion call of the referee.

That was seen again last Saturday on HBO when point deductions became a deciding factor in the Lamont Peterson title win over Amir Khan, a controversial split decision. And all you have to do is review the recent Chad Dawson –Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight championship, a win for Dawson that was later reversed to a no-contest.

So with the Hopkins decision now declared a no-contest by the California State Athletic Commission, and previously ruled likewise by the sanctioning World Boxing Council, the WBC at their convention in Las Vegas this week unanimously approved the use of instant replay when a foul or other inaccuracy occurs in a fight under when it comes to their coveted title.

Of course that would have to be approved by the promoters, and in situations of a WBC, or unified situation, WBA, IBF, WBO, or other, the prevailing thought is that replay would have to be unanimously approved by all. And in boxing, getting approval and all being on the same page, as we all know, can be a difficult journey.

It comes down to specifics, and of course what is correct for the sport. And in 2011, boxing fans have come to expect the controversial outcome. Promoters, such as Top Rank and Golden Boy, have the bargaining power to overturn decisions. They are the revenue producers and no sanctioning body, WBC or otherwise would go against their plea for a review and request for a return bout.

Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy formally put in their request to review and ask for a rematch, though their plea went to the IBF and WBA sanctioning organizations as the WBC belt was not up for grabs. Jose Suliaman, the longtime head of the WBC presided over the video review vote, and the Khan-Peterson fight was a factor, more so the Hopkins-Dawson fiasco of an outcome.

There are specifics to the video replay ruling. Not like baseball and football where replay rules are in effect for controversial plays, requiring an official review, boxing is different. The review of a fowl or inappropriate move contested in between rounds would disrupt the flow of a good fight. Though it can be argued, that the referee does stop a fight in action because of tape on hand wraps that get away from the gloves, a fight canvas needs to be wiped because of water used by the corner man, or a cut needs to be reviewed by a ringside physician.

To some extent, a video review system for boxing, or an open scoring system for the sport does seem logical. Because there seems to be a prevailing opinion that fans are rebelling about purchasing pay-per-view events that result in a travesty. A cause for action is needed and the WBC appears to be putting this issue in a proper direction.

Surely guys like Hopkins, even Joseph Agbeko are in agreement with the WBC. Hopkins got the no-contest and retains the WBC title, and Agbeko, because of a WBC ruling got his rematch with Abnar Mares last week, and lost after feeling he won their controversial first fight in April.

Now it up to the promoters to say, the WBC is moving the sport in a right direction. But recent history says, that may be an impossible task because promoters and sanctioning bodies are never on the same page.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Froch and Ward This Weekend, Lucian Bute Gets The Call

The Super Six World Boxing Classic or “Super Flop” presented by Showtime as some have said. The almost two year journey, that will determine the unofficial best fighter at 168 heads to the final two Saturday evening at Board walk Hall in Atlantic City. Showtime, because of luck does get a good final with Carl Froch and Andre Ward.

Ward and Froch fight to unify their WBA and WBC Super Middleweight titles. It was not supposed to work out that way, but Froch did what he had to do, and along the way, so did Ward. So we have a good final, and the last mega fight of 2011, one that is being classified as a potential fight of the year.

Six different promoters got involved in this venture with Showtime. Seven of the supposed elite from the division were either in or out. Injuries and eliminations were a theme from the beginning. The first two fights of the Classic took place October 17, 2009, at two different venues. Arthur Abraham got a 12th round TKO over Jermaine Taylor, at the 02 Arena in Berlin Germany.

And on the same night, from the Trent FM Arena, in Nottingham England, Froch defended his World Boxing Council title against Andre Dirrell by split decision. Little did we know then because Abraham and Dirrrell, the two potential favorites would not be the last two men standing.

“This tournament has been a whole different level for boxing,” commented Dan Goosen, the promoter of Ward. “One that can’t be accomplished that often because I don’t believe it’s an easy task to get six of the best fighters in any one division to pre-agree to fight one another in a continual tournament, win, lose or draw.”

Of course, executives at Showtime were thrilled to hear that comment at the final press conference in New York City Tuesday afternoon. Ken Hirschman, who put this concept together as head of Showtime Boxing, was not there. Come January 9th, he begins his reign as boxing czar at HBO sports.

And for Ward and Froch, this fight is a culmination of desire and now with more significance. They take the spotlight as a major fight to end the year. There is mutual respect with the two. And they agree, Lucian Bute, who opted for other opportunities, will have to get by the winner in order to say he is the best at 168.

Bute, not to take anything away from his respectability, may have missed his opportunity by taking his name off the original Super Six. At no juncture did he consider entering the tournament, and when injuries saw the veteran Glen Johnson enter the fold, only to lose in one of the semifinals bouts to Froch, well, Bute was fighting elsewhere.

“Lucian Bute isn’t even in the discussion,” said Froch. “I know he’s the IBF champion but two names on his record are Brian Magee and Gen Johnson, that’s it. He lost to a guy named Librado Andrade. He actually got KO’d. The referee picked him up off the floor, washed his windshield 40 seconds later and the bell was rung and he won on points.“

Froch added, “But in my opinion he was knocked out. Lucian Bute needs to fight some of the top level people before he can call himself the best or one of the top three in the world.” That is exactly why this tournament may have never been taken seriously.

Though the winner gets two belts in the division, and takes home a Silver Cup, perhaps the so called best super middleweight, that being Bute, is not being taken seriously Had he been there, it may have been more interesting because all three titles at 168 would be contested, and there would be the unusual unified champion in boxing.

To which Ward said, “Lucian Bute needs to fight the winner of this fight to be the best. That’s just the bottom line. No disrespect to Lucien Bute but he’s fought B- and C level competition. But it’s like he’s preserving himself, just trying to wait for the winner of this tournament while Carl and I have been putting in a lot of hard work.“

Putting this in perspective, as Ward says, “He (Lucien) has to come to us. We won’t have to go to him.”

And, maybe that was the strategy of Bute. The eventual plan put in indirect words from Goosen and Eddie Hearn, promoter of Froch, is for Bute to fight the winner. “You dream of fights like this,” says Hearn who has superior fighters in London. “Eliminate the politics and just let the best fight the best every time.”

And so we have a final, again with plenty of implications. Can Ward and Froch put on a clean show that could be considered a fight of the year candidate? “I will be trying to hit Andre Ward in the face,” said Froch. His target, maybe the injured right or left eye of Ward that Froch admits, he did not know “where his cut was,” which forced a postponement and delay of the fight.

“People only give the warrior tag if you get cut every other fight or you’re in a fight of the year candidate every other fight,” says Ward. “But I’m a warrior and I’m coming to win something and take something.”

For Showtime it is something that will hopefully take them into the next year with optimism. And for the skeptics of this tournament concept to say, it was a worthwhile two year journey.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Boxing Notebook: Cotto Rumors Continue; Super 6 Final; and More

By Rich Mancuso

Miguel Cotto returned home to Cagusas Puerto Rico and received accolades from his good friend and Mayor of the small town. The proclamation epitomized his courage, determination, and significance of his title defense, over Antonio Margarito this past Saturday in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

As Cotto continues to overcome an ending of a successful closing to the Margarito chapter, the rumors continue about his future. There is the speculation of not renewing a contract with Bob Arum and Top Rank, and going on his own towards promoting an upcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The speculation about Cotto and Mayweather began at ringside and continued hours after his commanding win against Margarito. Rumors and reports were rampant with boxing media assembled in New York, and continued with intensity in Puerto Rico days before Cotto came home.

Top Rank continues this news blackout regarding any post fight news about Cotto. The company is focusing on end of the year fights, and plans for 2012 as it pertains to their primary champion, Manny Pacquiao. Arum, who celebrated his 80th birthday this week was taking a few days off and said, “It gets bigger and bigger. We are planning big shows.”

Are those shows in the Top Rank plans for Cotto? They certainly will be for Pacquiao in either March or April. Top Rank is coming off two successful HBO Pay-Per-View events with Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in November, and Cotto this past Saturday.

The Pacquiao ending was controversial and the Cotto conclusion was his redemption, though the WBA Junior Middleweight champion appeared to be at ease with Arum and Top Rank. In the meantime there continues to be talk that Cotto will oppose Floyd Mayweather Jr. on that well announced May 5th date. And the talk is that Arum is ready to propose a March or April 2011 date for a fourth fight with Pacquiao and Marquez.

Time will tell. In the meantime, Cotto is enjoying redemption, and considers the second fight win over Margarito as a highlight of his three-time title reign, Mayweather is not talking, and the Arum war of words about his former champion are on hiatus.

It has been almost two years of a journey that ShowTime envisioned as being a good innovation that would determine who was superior at 168. But the Super Six Super Middleweight Classic has been anything of spectacular that has been beset with most of the original six being pulled because of injury, or the favorites eliminated early.

ShowTime, though, may have been fortunate because two of the elite Carl Froch, and Andre Ward meet for the silver cup and unification of their titles a week from Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Ward, the WBA champion and last USA Olympic Boxing champion, and Froch, the WBC champion could be a lasting and great fight of 2011.

They had to wait because of an injury to Ward. It enraged Froch, who was prepared for battle two months ago. Will ShowTime discontinue this classic, or have we seen this last major venture of their departed head of boxing, Ken Hirschman who begins his new title as head of HBO Boxing on January 9th?

Ratings for the Classic have been respectable, though there were a few dates conflicting with HBO boxing events. That may have took some steam away from what first appeared to be a good concept, one that Hirschman sold to a conclave of promoters that were behind the classic because of the exposure and interest it provide their fighters.

Along the way, Jermaine Taylor had to step aside, and promoter Lou DiBella came up with the veteran Glen Johnson who would lose to Froch back in their semi-final final bout In June. A unanimous decision win over Arthur Abraham back in May got Ward to the final.

“It actually worked in my favor,” said Froch about the final that was pulled back. His trainer, Bop McCraken, was training fighters with the Britain Olympic Boxing team and Froch was headed to New York for final preparations without him. Ward got injured and it enabled Froch to get additional rest and for McCraken to regroup with his champion.

But Froch admits it was a disappointment. He anticipated getting the fight over and done, and did not want his many fans disappointed, even the contingent that were planning a trip to New York and Atlantic City. Those fans will be back next week, so will Froch who arrives in New York Monday for final week preparations and a meeting with the media…

The unfortunate aspect of Pawel Wolak announcing his retirement
this week is, he is one of the good guys of the sport. Last Saturday he lost a return bout to Delvin Rodriquez via unanimous decision on the Cotto-Margarito undercard at the Garden. His first fight with Rodriquez, on ESPN in April, is considered a Fight of The Year candidate…

Kidney stones are the latest culprit with the heavyweight division, a reason why WBA/IBF and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko had to with drawl from his title defense next week against Jean-Marc Mormeck. Oh, don’t worry because this won’t be one of the highlight fights of 2012, neither was it going to be a good ending fight in 2011….

Rich Mancuso can be heard on “Keep it in the Ring” Every Sunday from 6-8 on Nitelineradio.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rich Mancuso Interviews Welterweight Contender Mike Jones

New York sports writer Rich Mancuso interviews boxing welterweight contender Mike Jones - who fought on the Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II under card at Madison Square Garden.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Warrior is Still The Ultimate Maniac...He Just Looks Like Gary Busey Now.

One of the most common questions I get asked about pro wrestling is, “What ever happened to The Ultimate Warrior?”…followed by, “Is he dead?”

The good news is that The Ultimate Warrior is alive and…well? If you’re a wrestling fan, you know what we’re dealing with here. So if I’m hesitant on saying that he’s “well”, I’m sure you can understand that this guy was never well in the head. Afterall, the dude born as Jim Hellwig legally changed his name to Warrior. Nuff said!

So what has been occupying the time of the man from Parts Unknown? Over the last year, Warrior went on a public tirade attempting to expose former colleague and legend Hulk Hogan. In a series of videos, Warrior accused Hogan of being involved in some major drug abuse and questionable lifestyle choices such as wife swapping. That tends to bring new meaning to, “Watcha gonna brother when the Hulkamania runs wild on you!”

Since Hogan never responded to the allegations over the summer, Warrior has remained quiet…until now!

Apparently, The Ultimate Warrior is involved in a new webshow of sorts, entitled “I See Stars”. To be honest, I have no clue what this show is about. All I know is that it features the Warrior going banana flavored ape shit on a bunch of young boys trying to get them all jacked up about…boydbuilding??? And that’s an educated guess.

I swear – the first time I watched this video I thought it was Gary Busey! So, for all those little Warriors who grew up wondering what happened to their childhood hero, here’s proof that he’s not dead and that his brain is still lost in “parts unknown”. Get ready to piss your pants!

Legends of Wrestling Reunite in New York (Nov.12,2011)

While DieHard Derek is usually known for conducting in depth one on one sit down interviews that ask the legends the burning questions others are too afraid to ask, the atmosphere in Elmhurst didn’t allow him the face time due to the overbearing crowd noise and Philadelphia radio station that was broadcasting live from the show. But again – Brian Barth found a way to make it happen!

As DieHard stood outside the hotel ballroom that was hosting the event, Brain from Sports Fan Promotions started to bring out wrestling legends one by one to give the rolling camera a little face time. In this video, you’ll see cameos from Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Jay Lethal, The Amazing Red and Jessica James – as the talent candidly interacts and praises each other for their contributions to the business.

After being in the business for 20 years, it's odd to see your childhood heroes grow old. When you;re a kid, you see them as larger than life figures and their images of animated ageless characters are burned into your memory. You flip though old magazines and remember back to the days when you first bought the issue at your local newsstand. Even the pages are now old, discolored and weathered - just like personalities who filled them. It makes you appreciate the little things in life and reminds you not to take time for granted, because nothing lasts forever and world will continue to move on. but for now, embellish yourself in a complimentary trip down memory lane from your friend, the timeless classic at DieHard Wrestling.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Third Time Could Be A Great Time For Marquez

By Rich Mancuso

The third fight for Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night against Manny Pacquiao is what he has been looking for. Then it will be said if the third time will be a great time for the three-division champion from Mexico City. And though the odds makers have Pacquiao as the overwhelming favorite, don’t tell Marquez because he firmly believes that he will have his hand raised.

He said last week, “I would rather fight Pacquiao three or four more times than fight Mayweather.” When fighting at 142, Marquez lost a 12-round decision to Floyd Maywether Jr, in September of 2009. Ever since he has had his eyes on Pacquiao again and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum gave him what he wanted.

And no matter what Marquez does Saturday night on HBO Pay-Per-View, from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, he already has achieved boxing history as one of five Mexicans to have won world titles in three different weight divisions. Erick Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Julio Cesar Chavez and Fernando Montiel are the others.

But if the results go to Marquez in this trilogy, well he cements himself more into boxing history. More so because he would have defeated Pacquiao, though he will have to be the harder puncher and counter a right from the champion that from all reports has been perfected.

To that right of Pacquiao, Marquez has said, “It is going to be tough. But you have to know when to do it and how to do it,” referring of course to this being a different strategy for the third fight. And at 38-years of age, Marquez is aware that this is his defining moment and more of an important fight than the previous two. Marquez firmly believes he prevailed in the previous fights with Pacquiao, but the draw and decision did not go his way.

Marquez has always had the power and the speed, and so does Pacquiao, so he needs to be as quick and powerful. In his fight with Michael Katsidis in November of 2010, a TKO win in the ninth round, he was dropped in the round three. He came right back and went to work. Many would say that was a defining moment, even better than the fights with Pacquiao. But Marquez will dispute that because he always believes the fights with Pacquiao should have seen a different result. Now a few days before the fight he thought would never happen, Marquez has been reserved, quiet, and ready for the showdown.

Realizing he is the underdog, after all it is Pacquiao, and that is not unusual, Marquez is not concerned. Media have questioned his attitude about not being the favorite despite the opposing view of being the favorite in Mexico. “It has nothing to do with my fight,” he says. “I have to go into the fight with the mentality that I have to win each round and if the opportunity comes I go with the knockout. I am not going to hesitate if the opportunity is there.”

Marquez has won five of his last six fights which include knockout wins over Joel Casamayor. Juan Diaz and Katsidis, the last two in World Boxing Association and World Boxing Association lightweight championship fights. That first fight with Pacquiao in May 2004 was his first mega fight. He got knocked down three times, was hurt in the first round and recovered. The consensus was he out boxed Pacquiao and got the decision.

That fight may have been his defining moment in the 18-year career that has made him as popular as Chavez or any of the boxing champions from Mexico. However, there will be nothing more defining than a win over Pacquiao with hopes this will be a trilogy that can be remembered.

Arum could have gone another route when determining the next opponent for Pacquiao, with knowledge that Floyd Mayweather has another agenda, and that wasn’t Pacquiao. So what was Arum thinking when Marquez was offered this opportunity? The trilogy was one a factor, Marquez, deserved to get another shot at Pacquiao, and this does present a challenge for his champion.

“He may be 38-years old, but in his last fights he had shown he has many things left in his professional boxing career by defeating Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis,” he said. “He is a dangerous opponent, but I am confident Manny’s speed and confidence is enough to defeat Marquez in their third fight.”

Marquez has the popularity and drawing power to make this another successful pay-per-view venture for Pacquiao. This isn’t Pacquiao and Shane Mosley of this past May 7th. The trilogy adds to the drama, as does the opportunity that Marquez could pull off an upset that would further derail a possible Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown. But Mayweather-Pacquiao is a fight boxing fans will still discuss and contemplate if it will ever take place.

Juan Manuel Marquez is again in the spotlight, and not Mayweather. And for Manny Pacquiao it will not be an easy task, even if the prognosticators are looking for an early stoppage by Pacquiao. The style of Pacquiao is perfect for Marquez because he is a counter puncher, and that has to be taken into consideration.

Marquez this third time is in the spotlight, and to that he says, “Is is a fight for the fans, they deserve it.” Yeah, Marquez is being modest because this third fight with Pacquiao is something he deserved.

And in boxing getting what you deserve does not always come that easy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Joe Frazier Was A Symbol of The Sport And Heavyweight Championship

By Rich Mancuso

We will now mourn the passing of 67-year old Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion known more for his name being associated with Muhammad Ali. He lost his battle to liver cancer Monday evening at a hospice in Philadelphia two days after it was known that Frazier had been gravely ill. Boxing has lost a legend from a time when the heavyweight championship was a symbol for the sport.

He was a proud part of a heavyweight era with Ali, and George Foreman. Boxing at the time was the sport of kings, known more for the heavyweight division and the lack of alphabet soup organizations that dominate the sport today. Frazier always said he was proud to be a part of that history, and would never criticize a sport that has changed the complexion and life of so many young people.

And though Frazier could never get close to Ali, there still was that mutual respect offered after their three famed fights, the most know being the “Fight of The Century” at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1971 when he put Ali down in the 15th round. The tributes for Frazier would continue many years later because he would appear at various championship fights and functions. Those who were in his company would always say, “Smokin’ Joe” was a gentleman out of the ring as good as a fighter he was in the ring.

Said Ali in the “The Ultimate Book of Boxing Lists” written by Bert Sugar and Teddy Atlas, “Joe Frazier hit hard…Brawler…Just kept coming, moving forward, no matter how hard you hit him…Could take a punch.” He would lose two more fights against Ali, including the Don King promoted “Thrilla in Manila” bout that epitomized then why the sport was considered the sport of kings.

Many say, as does Sugar, that it is impossible to not link Frazier and Ali together when discussing some of the memorable rivalries in the sport. “The hyphen between their two names as permanent as the memories they gave,” says Sugar. Ali called Frazier a “gorilla in Manila” and Frazier said, “I didn’t want to knock him out. I wanted to take his heart out.”

Frazier defended the heavyweight title four times before George Foreman knocked him out six times in the first two rounds in 1973, the last time he would be a heavyweight champion. “He was a giant and meant so much for boxing,” said former middleweight champion Iran “The Blade” Barkley who as a youngster growing up in the Bronx New York admired Frazier as the two developed a bond over the years.

But Frazier was never put in the category with Ali, Joe Louis, or Rocky Marciano as one of the greatest heavyweights to lace up the gloves. Perhaps it had to do with Ali being in the forefront, even though that 15th round at the Garden in 1971 will always be memorable. His 41 rounds fought with Ali were classics. Ali was quicker but Frazier could throw a punch, something that Ali remembered.

Ali would lose that first fight of his career at the Garden, but would continue to mock Frazier with insults before their next two fights. The words seemed to bother Frazier but he came to realize years later that it was what also made Muhammad Ali. Frazier, 32-4-1, would always fight guys bigger and stronger but that never seemed to hinder his courage and desire to make a mark on heavyweight championship history.

“I can’t go nowhere where it is not mentioned,” said Frazier recently in an interview about the fight with Ali at the Garden. “That was the greatest thing that happened in my life.” He was a former 164 pound Olympic Gold Medalist and became a pro with a reputation.

Years later Frazier would get his son Marvis involved in the sport. He could never duplicate any achievements of his dad and was encouraged by his champion father. Said Marvis a few years ago, “I can only do what my dad taught me but there will only be one Joe Frazier.”

His boxing gym in a downtown area of Philadelphia was a way for Frazier to identify with young people and his theory of contributing to the sport that also kept him involved around the fighters, trainers, and promoters. The gym, funded by organizations and out of the pocket money from Frazier, continued to struggle to keep the doors open in the past few years.

But the respect gained by Frazier over the years enabled friends and people from the boxing community to keep his dream alive in making a difference for young people that wanted to achieve a boxing career. “They deserve the opportunity just like I did,” he would say about the young people that surrounded him a few years ago.

And when the boxing world mourns Joe Frazier the next few days, they will always talk about Ali. However his charisma, most of all generalship out of the ring was as good as it was in the ring. There was never a bad thing to say about a man who never turned down an interview or denied the fans an autograph. “He was,” said Barkley, “a champion to all of us.”

Yes, boxing has lost a champion. We did not know about his illness and as of September when he was last seen at ringside in Las Vegas at the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight, reportedly Frazier had been diagnosed and the only people who knew were family. He would not complain and kept business to himself.

The best business though was what Frazier did in the ring, maybe with the best left hook at the time. Perhaps the world would not be talking about Joe Frazier and his passing had the fights with Ali never happened. However that would have not mattered. You had to know Joe Frazier to appreciate what he meant to family, friends, and for the sport of boxing.

Rest in Peace champ!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Joe Frazier Now In His Biggest Fight

By Rich Mancuso

On the same day that boxing had one of the biggest days of the year, word came from Philadelphia that former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier is in hospice care and is gravely ill with liver cancer. The 67-year old Frazier, the first to defeat Muhammad Ali and taking a decision against him has been in hospice care since last week.

Though there is always optimism, doctors have not informed Frazier as to how much longer he will live. And as the sport revived on a Saturday with five title fights in the United States and abroad, we offered our prayers for Frazier who was a part of that proud heavyweight era with Ali, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes and George Foreman.

We pray that “Smokin” Joe” has one last fight and will continue to be a public figure at ringside and various autograph sessions. There was a legacy when Frazier was in the ring. Boxing at the time was the sport of kings, known more for the heavyweight division and the lack of alphabet soup organizations that dominate the sport today. Frazier always said he was proud to be a part of that history, and would never criticize a sport that has changed the complexion and life of so many young people.

Said Ali in the “The Ultimate Book of Boxing Lists” written by Bert Sugar and Teddy Atlas, “Joe Frazier hit hard…Brawler…Just kept coming, moving forward, no matter how hard you hit him…Could take a punch.” The left hook at Madison Square Garden, known as the “Fight of the Century” put Ali down in the 15th round in 1971. Then it was the sport of kings. He would lose two more fights against Ali, including the Don King promoted “Thrilla in Manila” bout.

Many say, as does Sugar, that it is impossible to not link Frazier and Ali together when discussing some of the memorable rivalries in the sport. “The hyphen between their two names as permanent as the memories they gave,” says Sugar. Ali called Frazier a “gorilla in Manila” and Frazier said, “I didn't want to knock him out. I wanted to take his heart out.”

Frazier defended the heavyweight title four times before Foreman knocked him out six times in the first two rounds in 1973, the last time he would be a heavyweight champion, another example of how much the sport has changed.

Over the years he came to respect Foreman. And Ali, once an adversary and Frazier got closer, and at times were seen together at various functions. Any animosity that existed in the past was just a part of boxing history. The champion and opponent in boxing always seem to bond in later years, as did Frazier and Ali.

Years later, Frazier would get his sons involved in the sport, Marvis, in particular who could never duplicate any achievements of his dad. The gym in a downtown area of Philadelphia was a way for Frazier to identify with young people and his theory of contributing to the sport that made him a part of boxing history.

So we pray for “Smokin’ Joe” and hope he battles the biggest fight of his life. It is a much more difficult and different fight than the “Thrilla in Manila” and the entire boxing community, as we all do looks forward to the day that there will be a KO on cancer!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Keep It In The Ring Notebook: Arum At It Again With Mayweather; A Full Weekend and More.

By Rich Mancuso

As Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez prepare for a third showdown in eight days, Bob Arum is at it again with his adversary Floyd Mayweather Jr. And there is no speculation as to why Mayweather, through is adviser Leonard Elerbe, said he is booking May 5 of 2012 as his next fight and referred to the opponent being “The little fella.”

This could be another attempt by Mayweather to stampede the Pacquiao media attention, days before the HBO Pay-Per-View fight that will once again result in good revenue for Arum and Top Rank. And for Mayweather, supposedly booking his next fight, this time six months in advance, it is so unlike the WBC champion who took a 16-month hiatus before meeting and defeating Victor Ortiz in September.

Maywather has become the expert when it comes to getting under the skin of Arum. This was the perfect opportunity to hint about the fight with Pacquiao which remains in the balance. Boxing receives more attention when Pacquiao is days away from defending another title Mayweather will not allow his legacy to be tarnished by placing the blame on Arum and Pacquiao if the fight is not made.

So when you hear comments coming from Mayweather, or from one of his cronies, what is to be believed? There are still major legal issues that surround the WBC champion one that includes domestic violence and assault. There has always been the issue of Mayweather confronting financial issues because of fees that have incurred with the personal issues, add to the fact that he has become a once a year fighter.

But now with a major part of the welterweight championship and a fight with Pacquiao that has been on and off the past two years, one that will surpass an all- time pay-per-view record, Mayweather has no reason to hide. And with the latest word coming from the Mayweather camp, plus a response from Arum, what do you get? Media attention that boxing needs, but the sport should not revolve around Mayweather, Pacquiao, and Arum theatrics.

It has become a sitcom with more to come with Arum and Mayweather. The so called experts of boxing, those who come out of hiding when Mayweather and Arum speak, should remain silent. Because they need to brush up on their boxing history, know the facts and keep the steroid issue out of the picture, one that has become an old story. Pacquiao has said he is willing to follow protocol for Olympic style testing to get the fight signed and sealed. Arum has also stated that Pacquiao has agreed and that is not an issue as to why this fight is not on the calendar.

This is Mayweather politics, waiting for the outcome of Pacquiao and Marquez, or Pacquiao and another future opponent. May 5, 2012, is supposed to be the next time we see Mayweather in the ring and a major venue has been selected. The “Little fella” we all assume is Pacquiao. Arum believes this is all a joke by Mayweather, and the media should not be a tool to getting a message across when it comes to, what is expected to be, the most recent and anticipated fight in boxing history.

The Mayweather camp says, “We’re looking to make this the biggest fight possible.” The biggest fight now is Mayweather trying to get under the skin of Arum and it may not work. Until the fight is official it will be a war of words. Arum has other priorities and is focused on next Saturday, and until then, after an expected win by Pacquiao, Mayweather will once again remain silent.

But the general consensus is, Mayweather waits for Pacquiao to lose and is avoiding a fight that boxing and fans have been anticipating.

Either you have nothing or a bonanza of televised fight cards and Saturday night there are seven on the boxing calendar, some with more interest than others. It is again a situation of a sport not in control as promoters and networks see an ending of the year, fill their dates to their needs and not taking the boxing fan into consideration.

HBO and Showtime will go head again, something that is becoming an occurrence. Alfredo Angulo opposes James Kirkland as the highlight on HBO, a WBC light middleweight title eliminator promoted by Golden Boy, and Showtime counters with a super middleweight title bout, one that may have more interest, Luce Bute defending against Glen Johnson.

Though, Showtime is using this fight to promote the final of their everlasting Super Six Classic on December 17 between Andre Ward and Carl Froch at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. HBO and Showtime will overlap because Angulo and Kirkland start and hour later at 10:15PM on the east.

Don King returns to television with his new Wealth TV Network venture, limited on cable systems but available on most I-Phones and other forms of new technology with an 11-fight card, four championships including a defense for WBA cruiserweight champion Guillermo Jones from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood Florida.

Super flyweights Tomas Rojas and Dario Azuaga are on Fox Deportes, Now a number one ranked heavyweight Chris Arreola opposes Raphael Butler on an ESPN Deportes card from Mexico, Telefutura has an interesting late fight, middleweights Sergio Mora and Shibata Flores, and at Foxwoods Resort up in Connecticut heavyweights Mariusc Wach opposes Jason Gavern on Azteca America.

Interesting fights, some with implications. And if the boxing fan wants a taste of the UFC, tune to Spike TV and see Chris Leben take on Juan Munoz. But the demographics say UFC will have their own fans, and the boxing fan will have the remote busy, assuming all the channels are available on their cable or satellite systems. The good thing, an extra hour of sleep as the clocks turn back for daylight savings time.

Jermain Taylor parted ways with promoter Lou DiBella, is in a reported comeback mode. The former middleweight champion was pulled from the Super Six because of recurring injuries and DiBella was concerned about his safety. Now there is talk that Taylor is making a comeback with DiBella once again calling the shots. A sit down with media as to where and when Taylor will return is planned for next week…

Add another fight for Saturday, Wembley Arena in London. Ricky Burns of Scotland steps up in weight from super feather to lightweight taking on Michael Katsidis for the interim WBO lightweight title… Andrew Golota, the Polish heavyweight known for two fiasco fights with Riddick Bowe is contemplating a comeback at 43 years of age. Now we don’t need more evidence that the heavyweight division is a farce with too many of this 40-year old club trying to seek one more day of glory…

The December 10th HBO televised Amir Khan-Lamont Peterson super lightweight championship bout, from Washington D.C. got stronger with the announced co feature between the America, heavyweight Seth Mitchell in his HBO debut, opposing the highly touted Timur Ibragimov.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pacquiao and Marquez Begin To Make This Third Fight Interesting

By Rich Mancuso

Juan Manuel Marquez believes he won the first two fights with Manny Pacquiao, though that is still a discussion with fans and media, and of course Pacquiao will think the same. Either way their upcoming fight, a week from Saturday televised on HBO Pay-Per-View is getting more interesting.

And what came from separate media conference calls by the two fighters on Wednesday, one by Pacquiao earlier in the day, and Marquez in the early evening, revealed something more interesting. Pacquiao has a vindictive demeanor with Marquez because of the previous fights. He is more motivated, according to trainer Freddie Roach, stronger and made adjustments. Marquez is confident, feels this was the fight fans demanded, and now amid controversy.

Steroids, usually associated with Pacquiao, are now subjects that Marquez has to address. His strength and conditioning coach Angel Hernandez has been associated with Balco head Victor Conte The subject came up after Marquez revealed a body on HBO’s “24/7” series that resembled the look of a steroid user. Hernandez, once under a different name testified in the Balco 2008 trial, which implicated Conte, that he sold banned substances to Olympic sprinters.

The steroid issue is sensitive, even more because Pacquiao has been the subject of constant rumors. It was an issue made more by Floyd Mayweather Jr, for a fight that never happened with Pacquiao. Since then, Pacquiao has made it known he is willing to take an Olympic type drug test. But when a reporter questioned Marquez about the irony of a Balco name associated with him, the promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank came to his defense.

“Conte and Hernandez were implicated because of the steroid case and the two are least likely to mess with steroids,” said Arum who quickly put an end to the issue and bumped the reporter from making steroids a topic for the upcoming fight. “People know now, conditioned athletes know better about steroids,”
he said, adding that new methods are used for conditioning of athletes that are legal.

Arum made it clear, “We agreed about Olympic style drug testing, two years. Manny Pacquiao said he will do it.”

Marquez is doing his best to stay away from allegations that he is now the focus of a controversy that has always been the center of attention around Pacquiao. That Hernandez, Conte, and, Balco implications would not distract him from making it definite that he will be victorious over Manny Pacquiao. True, the fight had interest. Pacquiao always develops a buzz for the sport when he fights two or three times a year. And it is a trilogy that should have a definite outcome.

“There are other ways to get stronger,” commented Marquez. “The right way and I don’t have any doubt about doing it the right way.”

There is a sense that Pacquiao wants this win to be more important than a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. that may never come, or will it? Because Mayweather made the fight more interesting later in the day when his adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, said Mayweather was returning to the ring May 5th and “looking to make the biggest fight possible and everyone knows what that fight is, the little fella.”

Leave it to Mayweather to calm the storm, ironic, because there was no longer room to center on a steroid issue with Marquez. And “the little fella” is Pacquiao who had nothing to say regarding the much talked about meeting with Mayweather, a fight guaranteed to be the most lucrative pay-per-view fight in boxing.

“This third fight will be the answer to whether or not Marquez got robbed in the other two fights,” said Pacquiao. “I never underestimate Marquez. There is a big difference in me today. I have changed an improved a lot of areas and I’m more dangerous now. I think I’m a lot better now. My power has made a big difference.”

Marquez is aware of the power. Pacquiao has improved his right hook and Marquez says he has improved when exchanging punches. “We found he has a better right and we plan to take that weapon away,” he says. And Marquez does not hide the fact what Pacquiao has achieved since their last encounters. He knows that Pacquiao is a much improved fighter.

To answers about the previous fights, Marquez said, “They said they won the last two fights. They can say what they want. We feel the same way and that’s the way you should go into a fight. Now the third fight will shed any doubt about who the best fighter is.” Marquez is using the previous outcomes as a motivational tool, and Pacquiao wants the debate to conclude.

At 38- years of age, even if the body looks stronger, Marquez leaves no doubts. “Age has nothing to do with it,” he says. “As long as I had a good training camp I’ll be prepared. It will be a real war between us.”

“I think he’ll fight like he’s 24,” claims Nacho Beristain. The trainer of Marquez has also seen a more intense Marquez in camp and said Pacquiao has become a better technical fighter.

Marquez said, “I would rather fight Pacquiao three or four more times than to fight Mayweather again. Mayweather doesn’t fight, we know Pacquiao fights.” And this has nothing to do with Marquez and opening an issue of avoiding Mayweather again. A third fight with Pacquiao is what he has. A resolution will come, and hopefully without controversy.

But the outcome will be more interesting because of what Mayweather said. Until then it was Pacquiao and Marquez for a third time. And now this championship fight is even more interesting.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Latest Mayweather PPV Numbers Say, "Get In The Ring With Manny Pacquiao!!!"

By Rich Mancuso

Come on Floyd Mayweather Jr. do the right thing for the sport and get in the ring with Manny Pacquiao. Because the pay-per-view numbers from his September 17th WBC welterweight title fight with Victor Ortiz recorded the second highest non-heavyweight pay-per-view gross earnings in boxing history, the demand is for Mayweather.

The asking price is not only the purse that Mayweather may command. The request comes from fans that did not get a good outcome with the championship win over Ortiz, but Mayweather once again is a pay-per-view commodity and it showed after a 16-month hiatus. The fight generated over $78,440,000 in PPV revenue and was seen in 1.25 million homes. And this was not Mayweather-Pacquiao that will have no problem exceeding all boxing PPV records.

So when Mayweather says, “I give the fans everything I have with the best competition and exciting fights,” that leads to speculation. Why is he not in the ring with Pacquiao? We may never know. And perhaps this latest Pay-per-view number, and promoter Bob Arum earlier this week berating Mayweather, will get the undefeated welterweight champion to make the fight a reality.

But Mayweather will command his own show. Pay-per-view numbers and records are good for his ego and financial well-being. The fight with Manny Pacquiao is what fans and the sport, are desperate to see. However, boxing fans and the sport should not depend on a Mayweather meeting with Pacquiao for a revival. Mayweather would prefer meeting Victor Ortiz again, and Pacquiao is in the discussion for meeting undefeated Mike Jones or Diamond Belt middleweight champion Sergio Martinez with the assumption he will prevail in his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in two weeks.

Ortiz is enjoying the lifestyle after his fiasco ending of the fight last month. Boxing, right now, is not an emphasis though his thoughts are meeting Mayweather again knowing that the fight brought in good numbers. Ortiz has been avoiding calls and text messages from the media for comment. Through his promoters at Golden Boy, Richard Schaefer, the CEO in particular, the attitude is Mayweather controls the sport when it comes to pay-per-view. And Ortiz is leaving the next step to Schaefer.

When reached for comment, Schaefer said nothing different from a press statement that was released to the media about the PPV numbers from the Ortiz fight. There was no indication about Golden Boy involvement for a possible Mayweather-Ortiz second bout, or any indication that Golden Boy would be a factor in convincing Mayweather that it is time to make the fight with Pacquiao.

“When it comes to pay-per-view Floyd is clearly in a league of his own,” said Schaefer in a statement.” So there are no doubts that Schaefer will be a factor in trying to get the deal done this time for Mayweather, though Floyd is capable of conducting his own business, with legal issues still an obstacle as to what the next step will be for the WBC welterweight champion.

And as time passes by, with Pacquiao keeping busy, the anticipated fight that never comes to fruition is still a topic of discussion. We continue to write, speculate, and offer a prediction. In the end a final conclusion comes from the pay-per-view numbers.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the reigning king of boxing pay-per-view numbers and revenue from the fans who believe he is the draw. It is nonsense to believe that Mayweather is avoiding Manny Pacquiao. But as the days pass, it becomes more inevitable that the mega fight will never happen, and that Mayweather is afraid and does not want to tarnish his image with a possible loss to his adversary.

Schaefer said, “Records are made to be broken.” Meaning he is advocating the fight with all assurances that Mayweather-Pacquiao will exceed all previous PPV numbers. So the pay-per-view numbers dictate, that the boxing fan continues to have confidence with a Mayweather theory that he generates interest in the sport.

And in the best interest for all, Floyd, take another look at the numbers and make the fight with Manny Pacquiao a reality.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

VIDEO: Rich Mancuso Interviews Don King

Don King Gets A New Television Deal and Talks Old school Boxing

By Rich Mancuso

You don’t see Don King as visible as he once was. However in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon the general public told the 80-year old Hall of Fame promoter that he is still a recognizable face. And for the sport of boxing, King will be seen again and hopefully more often as he announced his latest promotion to be televised on the San Diego based Wealth Television Cable Network.

It is not HBO or Showtime that granted King an opportunity to televise four championship fights, part of 11 fights to be held Saturday November 5th from the Seminole Hard Rock & Casino in Hollywood Florida. The feature bout will be WBA cruiserweight champion Guillermo Jones defending his title against 14th ranked Mike Marrone.

King made an indirect reference to HBO and Showtime the two major broadcast networks of the sport. They would not give him an opportunity to showcase Jones or Joey Hernandez the United States Boxing Organization Junior middleweight champion. He made references to the past and how Wealth TV will provide an opportunity for people across the nation to see fights like they did on ABC, CBS and NBC, the major networks that televised free boxing when King was on top of the business.

Not to say that Don King is history. He is still visible but does not have the major fighters that promotions like Top Rank and Golden Boy have to offer for the networks. He wants to see boxing return to the glory days, the old school theory of putting boxing on free television. It means more for King now to see the sport thrive again.

“The downward spiral,” said King about the sport, as he held court with media before introducing Robert and Charles Herring, a father and son who launched their network in 2004. King was referring to the ineffective people running the sport and how fans have been turned off with the recent and bizarre outcomes of major fights seen on pay-per-view and the networks.

There were references by King regarding how he had to advocate and get a return bout for his fighter, bantamweight Joseph Agbeko, who will get the opportunity against Abner Mares on December 3rd. And he cited how boxing has been embarrassed with the recent outcomes of the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz and Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson title fights.

“Yesterday, today, tomorrow,” is what King said will be the theme of the telecast on a network available to over 100 cable systems across the country. The promoter, who now does most of his business in the state of Florida, said the Wealth televised card is a celebration for the people. The President of Panama is expected to attend, as well as legendary boxing champions Larry Holmes and Roberto Duran.

“A celebration for Roberto Duran and celebrate the birthday of Larry Holmes,” he said. It was vintage Don King as he waved the flags of different countries, said, “Viva Puerto Rico,” referring to one of his greatest champions, Felix Trinidad, and he of course provided his views on the economy and opportunity. It was Don King smiling, playing to the cameras, and bringing back memories of the old days.

And this will be a venture for Wealth TV. They admit this is an opportunity to expand their base. Boxing to the premier lifestyle and entertainment network may be a risk. They invested an undisclosed amount of money and days ago made the deal with King, but the 70-year old Herring, a boxing fan said, “It nicely fits into the programming vision of WealthTV.”

More televised boxing cards, by the network if successful could mean a revival for King. He said, “Return boxing back to the masses, to the fans and not pay-per-view.”

It is technology incorporated into the old school theory that Don King is attempting to do. And it was convincing enough to convince Herring that boxing needs something different, another shot for King and a new way to present boxing to fans. The availability of viewing the telecast on Verizon FIOS TV and AT&T U-verse will also enable boxing fans to see the telecast on their phones and I-Pads.

King has always been an innovator with the sport and this year reunited and co-promoted a card with a former adversary, fellow Hall of Famer Bob Arum of Top Rank. This is his latest deal that could work, and with the technology available by the network, to say the least, old school could work with the new school.

And as much as Don King has been criticized over the years, a boxing fan will always recall the heyday of King being the dominating promoter, his success with Ali, Frazier, Norton and the “Thriller in Manila.” He made references to that in a small room at the Phillippe restaurant in New York City. “All the champions are now in foreign countries,” he said. “They have escaped the country. The networks did it. You want to see fair play. Let us have a coalition for truth,” making reference to how HBO and Showtime would not make a deal for Jones, a legitimate champion with a 37-3-2 record along with 29 KO’s.

So this could work, and King did offer a WBA championship fight to his new network. “Give the people an opportunity in the land of opportunity,” he said about Jones not getting his chance on the major networks ,and thanking Herring for the chance to put his promotion back on a network.

“Go back to pride, dignity, and glory,” he continued, advocating for a national boxing commission, if done properly. No, it won’t hurt to have Don King visible again. A little more of old school boxing and a new network can’t harm the sport.

email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nonito Donaire Not Anything Like Manny Pacquiao But Getting There

By Rich Mancuso

Nonito Donaire should not be put in the category of Manny Pacquiao, though Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum did their best this week in New York City to showcase their bantamweight champion. Donaire, (28-1, 18 KO’s) defends his WBC and WBO titles at the WalMU Theatre at Madison Square Garden on HBO Saturday night against two-time champion Omar Narvaez of Argentina

And the comparisons continue to be made about Donaire and Pacquiao. It is the New York City debut for Donaire, a native of General Santos City, Philippines now residing in the Bay area of San Leandro California. Pacquiao continues to prepare for his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in a few weeks but there is limited communication with the two fighters.

“You name it, the place has its history,” commented Donaire Thursday afternoon about the Garden. He referred to Jack Dempsey and some of the other legends of boxing that have made history at the arena known as the Mecca of boxing. Arum has a history also of showcasing champions at the Garden. Miguel Cotto has sold out the arena over the past few years and Arum has showcased featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa at the Theatre.

The current renovations at the Garden put boxing on a hiatus at the historic venue. The next major Top Rank card of boxing at the Garden will be December 3rd when Cotto defends his title against Antonio Margarito. That is expected to be sold out. The Donaire-Narvaez fight, as of late Thursday night still had 500 seats available in the 5,500 seat Theatre.

Not to worry. There should be an enormous contingent of New York Philippine boxing fans and a contingent of Latino boxing fans that will make the fight that more interesting. We know about Donaire, a consensus top-five pound for pound fighter with a nine-year, 25-bout winning streak. This will probably be his last fight at bantamweight, and Arum is looking ahead for Donaire to fight at featherweight, possibly taking on Gamboa next year.

Maybe this is not one of your more marketable fights of 2011. Donaire, as much as they try to make comparisons with him and Pacquiao, is his own fighter. Don’t expect the 26-year old to reach milestones that Pacquiao has accomplished. He is quick and strong, much like Pacquiao, but moving past 126 is out of the question. So for Donaire to continue as a marketable fighter, pay-per-view of course is the goal, it will have to be in what should no longer be considered with the mediocre fighters of bantamweights and featherweights. Donaire and Gamboa, both in the Top Rank stable are making strides to provide the lower divisions in boxing with some marketing punch.

“I know the quality of Nonito Donaire,” says Arum. “He has the ability to be a three-time champion.” But Arum does shy away from comparisons to Pacquiao. He sees a potential superstar now appearing in New York for the first time and continues a plan to market Donaire the proper way. The fight will also be broadcast live by the Philippine channel ABS-CBN that will be seen in the country Sunday morning.

Narvaez, (35-0-2, 19 KO’S) is one of those unknown and good fighters from Argentina, a 36 –year old legend in his country making his U.S. debut. He is not intimidated or in the spotlight. The two-time Olympic champion has stayed away from the media this week holding private workouts at the hotel where he and his camp are staying across the street from the Garden. He will be a challenge for Donaire, a formidable opponent that was sought after hearing about his exploits from Miguel Diaz the reputed Top Rank cut man and trainer from Argentina.

“I know about his career,” says Narvaez about Donaire. He has a translator and does not comment much. “I know the quality of Nonito Donaire. This is a real opportunity to show the world my boxing,” he says. There is a respect for Donaire, but Narvaez has not been accessible to the media who want to know more.

So the spotlight in New York City this week has been on Nonito Donaire, as would be the same if Manny Pacquiao was fighting in the Big Apple. Narvaez quickly left the upstairs room at Gallagher’s Restaurant. Donaire conducted more interviews with the media and went downtown for a photo shoot on top of the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Those at Top Rank who are responsible for getting the world to know more about Donaire enjoy his personality and ability to cooperate. He, like Pacquiao is very receptive. Donaire is devoted to his wife, plays a guitar and sings a tune when traveling with Top Rank brass on the way to media events in New York. Perhaps those are the only similarities to Pacquiao, though Donaire credits a lot of his accomplishments to his fellow countryman.

“He showed me how to fight a southpaw,” says Donaire. Narvaez is a southpaw, so adjustments were made. “Narvaez is a true fighter. He knows how to win. He is a legend in Argentina. He has pride and I can’t take him lightly. I too have my pride as a Philippine fighter,” he says, though Pacquiao still resides in his country and represents his people as an elected member of Congress. Donaire left the Island at the age of 10 and resides in California but still labors on his pride as a Filipino.

“This is about boxing and representing our countries,” he says anticipating the fans of Latino and Filipino descent from the tri-state area that will be at the WalMu Theatre Saturday night. “He has his own agenda, I have mine.” And Donaire intends to make a statement.

He may not be Manny Pacquiao but a good show at the Garden, in New York, and on HBO may be what Top Rank and Arum intended from the beginning for Nonito Donaire

WBC Declares Bout a Daw and Hopkins Is The Champion

By Rich Mancuso

Bernard Hopkins got justice Thursday when the World Boxing Council Board of Governors declared the title bout with Chad Dawkins a technical draw and said they still consider Hopkins the WBC light heavyweight champion. Though the decision rendered, from the WBC at their offices in Mexico City is official, and on record, and until the California State Athletic Commission makes their decision, Dawson is still the champion.

However, the consensus is that in a few weeks or less the California commission will abide by the WBC decision. As to a return bout with Hopkins and Dawson, the assumption is Hopkins will once again defend the title if a bout takes place. That all depends on the condition of Hopkins who is expected to recuperate for six months due to the diagnosed shoulder separation that occurred in the second round stoppage of the fight this past Saturday on HBO Pay-Per-View from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The WBC cited Rule WC-33. “Injuries from head butts, elbows or other accidental illegal actions (injuries) and body fouls,” of which Dawson is clearly shown doing to Hopkins at the height of that second round. They said a description of a head butt, elbow, or accidental injury should not be considered a TKO, a decision that was made by referee Pat Russell.

The commission, after the fight endorsed the decision by Russell and said they would review the fight. Golden Boy Promotions and their CEO Richard Schaefer, promoter of Hopkins, officially filed a protest with the WBC and California Commission a day after the fight. There was no word from Hopkins, Dawson, Golden Boy, or the commission after the WBC decision.

As of Monday, Hopkins said he would not retire. The World Boxing Council released a statement after Hopkins’ promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, filed a protest over the ruling of a technical knockout and said they would have a decision by Friday. But it was obvious that a major sanctioning organization of the sport did not want this issue to drag, realizing the call from boxing fans was that Dawson should not have been granted a TKO and the title.

The WBC also stated, “Any rough tactics other than clean punches,” was a basis for their ruling, as again it was obvious that Dawson pushed Hopkins that enabled him to fall and not continue. The ruling is a part of their bylaws stating the fight should be a technical draw with emphasis on their being a point deduction, a technical draw if before the start of the fifth round, a technical decision as per scorecards if after the fifth round.

The WBC based their conclusion after examining video of the fight, the medical report about Hopkins, and their corresponding rules. “The WBC decided unanimously to declare the bout a technical draw and still consider Bernard Hopkins the WBC light heavyweight champion of the world,” said the statement.

“The WBC regrets its unavailability of implementing the instant replay at the fight due to the fact that the California Commission does not have that rule.” Hopkins earlier this week advocated for the implementation of replay for the sport, something that is not a unified rule with various state athletic commissions and control boards that hold boxing events in the United States.

In reference to the replay statement, they added, “The WBC respects and can not intervene in the decisions of the boxing commissions where the fights happen. But it does intervene in regards of the recognition of a WBC title of the world by being exclusive owners of the trademark and championship accolades.”

They concluded that it is their hope the California Commission will review their decision at their next hearing in December.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dawson Win Is Enough Proof That The Sport Needs Instant Replay At Ringside

By Rich Mancuso

Chad Dawson is a light heavyweight champion again and Bernard Hopkins may have seen the end of his legacy. And for the sport of boxing again there is talk, and nothing positive. Three weeks after another fiasco finish that saw a controversial pay-per-view ending of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. win over Victor Ortiz, we are left with questions and skepticism.

The questions about another controversial ending should encourage those in command to advocate an instant replay and review system at ringside. Instead, we get talk about Dawson moving on to fight Jean Pascal next, inquiries about how severe the shoulder injury is to Hopkins, and awaiting if the California Athletic Commission will revert the TKO decision ruled by the referee Pat Russell.

The lasting impressions are where Hopkins goes from here after being diagnosed with a separation of the collar bone and shoulder blade. That offers a valid reason as to why Hopkins could not continue in the second round, and perhaps Dawson was on his way to a legitimate championship win. However, Dawson, the new champion, has a questionable championship and more so this is another black eye for the sport that sees no light at the end of the tunnel.

So Dawson and his promoter, Gary Shaw can talk all they want about moving on and not granting Hopkins a rematch. Even if the commission rules that the fight should be a no contest, leaving Hopkins with the title, he may not be in position to defend the light heavyweight title because a 46-year old with that type of shoulder injury requires a long recuperation. The belt could be declared vacant which would leave an opening for a Dawson-Pascal fight for the light heavyweight title.

But the issue now is not about Hopkins, or how he may have quit and forced the issue of a questionable injury. The issue should not be about Dawson and how he lifted up Hopkins, and using his shoulder that put Hopkins on the canvas that led to another awkward and questionable finish in a championship pay-per-view fight.

The issue is about the sport of boxing, how fans are becoming victims of one travesty after another, and why the sport needs revisions of rules and procedures that never seem to happen. Because there is not one single authority that can make the changes, and once again the issue of a national boxing commission will be discussed and never become reality for one reason or another.

So what is the resolution? Because the last thing a boxing fan wants to see is another awkward outcome in a few weeks when Manny Pacquiao defends his title in a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.The athletic commissions and sanctioning organizations, sharing revenue from promoters and gate receipts, want to be the sole authority and render the final decision.

Though this time, boxing and Hopkins may see some justice. Because Dawson did not level a punch or blow that warranted Russell to rule it was a TKO. It was a foul. Hopkins could not continue before four rounds. The result should have been a no contest and the title still with Hopkins, even if Dawson and Shaw advocate continually that they now have the title, and possibly ended the legacy of Hopkins.

Though boxing is a subjective sport, different from baseball, football and other major sports, more so because of controversial decisions, implementing an instant replay system of review may never be incorporated in the rule book. It has always been the third man in the ring who makes the final decision. And prior to 15-round championship fights going to 12-rounds, because of safety issues to the fighters, the referee was also scoring the fight.

However, as has been seen too often, the referee has become the subject of controversy. Joe Cortez in the Mayweather win over Ortiz, and now Russell who said it was not a foul that Dawson committed to Hopkins. Yet Russell was escorted out of the Staples Center in Los Angles and was not allowed to speak with the media. You see, in a controversial Major League Baseball post season game, the Commissioner of Baseball mandates that the umpire who made the questionable call has to meet with the media to provide an explanation.

Instant replay and review of a play makes it easier to overturn a ruling by an official. In this case, boxing, again as the subjective sport as it is, may not have the means to allow a change. The sport does not want to be put in a category of doing a correct thing for the fighters, more importantly for the fans. It is left to the governing bodies, the athletic commissions in a board room, and the promoters contending against each other.

It will be left to Shaw and Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, Hopkins’ promoter to provide their point of view. And boxing fans will wait for what hopefully will be the right decision that the referee made a wrong decision. Shaw said there will never be a rematch, even if the WBC advocates and decides there should be one.

And there may never be a rematch, because Hopkins needs time to recuperate and realized after the first round that this was going to be a fight. But the real fight now is not in the ring. It is the horrible outcome of another fight that went bad for the sport and their loyal fans.

A national commission may never be the answer. A good replay system at ringside never intended for the sport may now be the proper route.

Boxing Notebook: Hopkins Pay-Per-View Question and HBO Gets A New Leader

By Rich Mancuso

There probably are better ways to spend $49.95 Saturday night but the continued legacy of Bernard Hopkins will get the public to order his light heavyweight title bout against Chad Dawson. HBO Pay-Per-View will always look at Hopkins and his legacy as a reason as to why this is a marketable pay per view fight. And no matter what the economic signs say, to HBO, Bernard Hopkins is still a draw.

Dawson has the toughest opponent of his career. Hopkins, the 46 year-old Hall of Fame champion vows to continue his legacy and mark on boxing history and that is enough of a story line for HBO to make this a pay-per-view venture. The network expects a little over 300,000 buys, and if that is the result then it becomes a successful night.

But are boxing fans, those in the business, and the general public buying into this fight? The latest odds have Dawson as the heavy underdog. It has been that way from day one when the fight was made. Dawson is focused and perhaps has momentum since reuniting with former trainer John Scully for this fight Hopkins, continued to go about his business and said his resume was a Ferrari and the 29- year old Dawson was a Mercedes.

And there is no mystique about Bernard Hopkins. The only question is how formidable of an opponent is Dawson? You ask the people who have been around both fighters. They give Hopkins the advantage. They know this can be an interesting fight, that Dawson will prevent a quick finish and that Hopkins, as he is so prone to doing, will take this fight to the distance.

“It is not a pay-per-view fight but Dawson will get around him enough to make it go the distance,” said Aaron Davis, a former WBA welterweight champion. Davis, now the owner of a boxing gym in the Bronx New York has never been in the ring with Hopkins. He knows enough about Dawson. It was a different era when the 42-year old Davis was in the ring and Dawson was learning the trade.

But as Davis says, as most boxing experts, do, “HBO gets, good business from Hopkins. He makes you want to watch and observe. Chad has never been this exciting fighter but deserves the opportunity to make a few million.” In essence, it comes down to the buy rate and if a projected 300,000 or more are willing to spend for this fight than Dawson has his deserved pay day.

“It is pay-per-view because of Bernard,” says veteran trainer Bobby Miles who has worked corners for the late Davey Moore, former middleweight champion Iran Barkley and on occasion with Mike Tyson. “If Chad pressures Bernard than it will be an interesting fight. And if the fight gets 300,000 buys than it is a win for HBO.” Miles looks for Hopkins to win by decision, if Dawson as expected puts the pressure on Hopkins.

And for boxing, whether pay-per-view or not, it is still Bernard Hopkins. And if he wins the continuation of boxing history at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will be a worthwhile purchase.

HBO GETS A NEW BOSS: You could see this coming. Ken Hershman has left Showtime Sports and in early January becomes the head of HBO Sports. Though assumed but never a certainty, the move was confirmed by HBO late Thursday afternoon. Though HBO has the credibility and the money, Hershman leaving the network does not mean Showtime is done with boxing as they search for a successor before the end of the year.

The significance is Hershman now having less pressure, more leverage, and power as Showtime has always been second in command when it comes to getting the mega pay-per-view fights and the fighters. Hershman did have brief success earlier this year getting Showtime PPV distribution for two separate fight cards that highlighted Top rank champions Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, two of the leading money makers in the ring.

That may have been the deciding factor that ultimately saw Ross Greenburg depart the doors at HBO, though other decisions also led to the change of command at the network.

Hershman had the resume so HBO did not need to look outside the boxing industry. A source close to HBO said, “This was in the works when Greenburg left in early July,” also adding that Bob Arum had nothing to with Greenburg going out the door.” That can be disputed as Arum and Greenburg had a bitter war of words which also contributed to the Pacquiao and Cotto fights going to Showtime Pay- Per-View.

So what can Hershman expect? Business as usual with Pacquiao and Cotto back to HBO, and the financial backing that will continue to make HBO the leading television provider of boxing and major pay-per-view fights. He also got an endorsement from Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions who had limited dealings with Hershman at Showtime. Count on one thing though. HBO has never been an advocate of crowning a champion via a tournament, as Showtime and Hershman initiated with the “Super 6” 168-classic that has been ongoing for almost two years. Hershman may not be around to oversee the final between Andre Ward and Carl Froch at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City December 17th.

THROWING THE PUNCHES: What is known, Emanuel Steward is no longer with Miguel Cotto. What is being heard? Steward did not get the contract to train Cotto for his next fight with Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd. And it was Steward who failed to return an agreement to Cotto because Steward, as has been confirmed, still has not been paid for the second fight in his corner, the win over Ricardo Mayorga….

Ninito Donaire set to defend his bantamweight titles at the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City next Saturday night on HBO against Omar Narvarez is still not a sell out for the adjacent 5,000 seat theatre…. Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing is advertising a show at the Tropicana in Atlantic City on the same night of the Donaire card with “two of the most exciting heavyweights in the world”, Vinny Maddalone taking on Mike Sheppard. Maybe to Star Boxing they are exciting, but when was the last significant fight for Maddalone or Sheppard?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

VIDEO: Highlights From Muay Thai Fight Night

I was down at the MMA Expo in Atlantic City a few weeks ago – you’ll feel like you were there too after you see all the video I have from the event – and during opening night, the event hosted a Muay Thai Fight Night. I had no idea what Muay Thai was. When I first heard, I thought it might have been the name of the Chinese Buffet at the Taj Mahal.

In any case, good ol’ DieHard was ringside for the action in what can be described as a form of kickboxing. Did I enjoy it? I’m sure I could have if the fighters didn’t suck, but on the flip side of that coin, if I can get a ringside seat to watch some real @$$-whoopin, you can count me in. Not to mention, the ring girls weren’t bad looking either…but I’ll save those thoughts for another blog.

For now, my fortune cookie says – “Enjoy The Muay Thai”.

Shot and Chopped by DieHard Wrestling

VIDEO: MMA Expo For Kids - Coverage

Who said you needed to be an old, flat nosed, cauliflower ear'd, muscle head to enjoy the art of full contact sports? Sometimes, the best time to teach them is when they're young.

James Jefferson extended his MMA Sports Expo in Atlantic City, NJ to include competitions, clinics and exhibitions with the young contenders and champions of tomorrow.

Shot and Chopped by - Online Wrestling Videos

VIDEO: Interview with Female MMA Fighter, Kim Couture

Interview with MMA Female Fighter Kim Couture (kimcouture.tv) as she discusses her career, her ex-husband (former UFC champion Randy Couture) and her business goals in the MMA sport.

This interview was conducted by "DieHard" Derek Gordon at the MMA Sports Expo in Atlantic City , NJ (Oct.2010)

VIDEO: Interview with UFC Hall of Famer, Dan "The Beast" Severn

You may have heard the “legend” of the man in the UFC that they call “The Beast”. Back in the day (early 90′s) when the UFC was in its infancy, there were a handful of household names that the common sports fan would refer to as the founding fathers of ultimate fighting. Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Tank Abbott, Paul Varelans, and of course – the man himself, Dan “The Beast” Severn.

At 53 years of age, the UFC Hall of Famer is still taking challenges in the cage and wiping the mats with their face. Upon meeting Dan, you’ll may think it’s a jacked up version of Tom Selleck as Magnum PI. His size intimidates even those who are larger and more muscular. The man is literally built like a military tank. For man of this size and stature, and who paved the way for such barbaric physical combat – he’s nothing more than a gentle giant…of course pending on what voice you happen to be talking to that day!

In this interview, DieHard Derek gets the chance to sit down with Dan and discuss his career and how the sport of MMA has evolved since the early days when he was headlining the top UFC and MMA events in the world.

This interview was conducted by "DieHard" Derek Gordon (diehardprowrestling.com) at the MMA Sports Expo in Atlantic City , NJ (Oct.2010)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Timothy Bradley Is Content Now With Top Rank

By Rich Mancuso

Timothy Bradley Jr. believes he is in the right company now with a promotional deal with Top Rank. The junior welterweight who has been in the ring twice in the last two years, and had three championships signed a deal with Bob Arum this past week. The contractual and legal issues with promoters Gary Shaw and Ken Thomson may not be over, but he has passed a hurdle.

“You walk outside and people ask, and don’t know me,” commented Bradley a few days ago after his new deal became official. He was immediately signed to fight former lightweight champion Joel Casamayor, a co-feature of the third bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez from Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View November 12th.

Bradley (27-0, 11 KO’s) is looking for exposure. He believes that Shaw and Thompson were holding him back from being an elite fighter. The specifics as to what went wrong with his contract are not clear, though Shaw has claimed it is a breach of contract and that Bradley had become difficult to deal with. There is always speculation that Arum and Top Rank may have been getting to Bradley, but that is difficult to comprehend with Arum having premier fighters, one being Pacquiao.

Either way this becomes a good deal for Bradley, who got a 10th round technical decision over Devon Alexander back in January that unified the 140-pound titles. Since then the litigation has been an obstacle, as was the World Boxing Council that stripped him of the title because he refused to defend against Amir Khan. It would have been a career pay day for Bradley had he opposed Khan. He wanted that fight, but specifics of a contract, not disclosed, caused Bradley to walk away.

All Bradley wants is respect and recognition. The deal with Top Rank can enhance his opportunity towards regaining respect with boxing fans. They said Bradley was avoiding Khan, that the win over Alexander was not a great effort. “I want to be busy,” he said. “I will fight at 147 or 140, wherever they want me to. Casamayor is tough and a good challenge and I am excited to be back in the ring.”

But the issue here is not just Timothy Bradley. Every fighter around his weight class wants a shot at Manny Pacquiao. The fight, and maybe a win over Khan could have put him a step closer to a bout with Pacquiao or some of the other world class fighters in the Top Rank stable at 147. Bradley says he did not look at Top Rank as a way of getting closer to an eventual fight with Pacquiao. It was just the right deal and proper route to go, though it does makes it easier for him to get closer for Arum to make that fight pending on what Pacquiao plans to do in the next year.

“I wanted to be with a real promoter,” Bradley said in his defense of getting away from Shaw and Thompson. He has one less promotional fee to pay, the WBC, when they stripped him. “I thought it was funny the way they stripped me, the only way they could get the championship away from me. They know how to promote,” he added about Top Rank.

In defense of Shaw, he attempted to get Bradley the exposure and the fight with Khan was delivered. However, along the way, there were issues. Arum said any lawsuits about the contract will be addressed, in the meantime he is happy to have Bradley under the Top Rank banner. It begins with the upcoming fight with Casamayor, a veteran who will be the underdog.

But will a win for Bradley get him a step closer to fighting Pacquiao? “If I beat Amir Khan it wouldn’t have done anything for me career,” he says. “I did not sign this deal to get Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. I did this to get exposure and I did not get that when I beat Alexander. Boxing is my life and I was not getting what I deserved where I was.”

Arum, through a spokesperson at Top Rank said, “Bradley will have his name on a list for Pacquiao.” In other words, if Pacquiao defeats Marquez, as expected, and if the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight does not come off, then Bradley could be considered for Pacquiao. There reportedly is no guarantee in the contract that Bradley has a deal to fight Pacquiao. And there are no specifics about any financial clauses that Bradley may have received when he signed his new deal.

“There was never a plan for me,” says Bradley about his former promoters. “Now I have one. The offer to fight Khan was good but there was no plan to promote me. If I get Manny Pacquiao, that will be great. I can give him a good fight. But this was all about me and it was not giving me what I deserved.”

He still holds the WBO junior middleweight title and that will be on the line against Casamayor. Timothy Bradley got his deal, now it is in his hands.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com