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:

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 ( 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 ( 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.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Nothing New From Hopkins with Expectation To Continue Legacy Against Dawson

By Rich Mancuso

You come to expect the same thing from Bernard Hopkins. There is never a lack of confidence coming from the future Hall of Fame light heavyweight champion who defends his WBC title against Chad Dawson on HBO Pay-Per-View at the Staples Center in Los Angeles a week from Saturday. He says the same thing and does not present the image of a fighter that wants to hang up the gloves anytime soon.

“I want my gray to be in the ring,” said the 46-year old champion who achieved boxing history back in May when he defeated Jean Pascal. And you get the feeling that Hopkins is enjoying the fame in what may not be the end of a legacy, unless the underdog and younger Dawson pulls the upset. “I want Chad Dawson to see I have gray here,” he said the other day before the media at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym, a ritual he conducts prior to championship fights in his hometown of Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

There is really nothing more for Hopkins to accomplish. A win over Dawson, and maybe we are talking about a third bout with Pascal. That is a fight that generates interest and has some value. Pascal wants another fight and surely HBO would buy it and it could be a pay-per-view attraction. Or Antonio Tarver, the Showtime commentator may want to try and spoil the legacy. The heavyweight division could be another route for Hopkins, though that discussion always seems to be avoided when he is asked.

For now the emphasis is on Dawson, younger and deserving of getting a shot at the Hopkins legacy. “That age difference is appropriate for me to look like I’m gray and I have gray because realistically, if you do the math he could be my son,” says Hopkins about the 29-year old Dawson.

He says, “When you look at my resume compared with his resume, you must say or must agree that my resume is a Ferrari and his is a Mercedes.” Before the fight with Pascal in May, Hopkins was the preacher. He said Pascal was the student and he was the professor. So Hopkins has a way with words, though there is never a doubt backing up what he says. He does not back away from competition in a division that is known for mediocrity, though Hopkins continues to give the light heavyweight picture some sense of exposure and Pascal has done his part. Pascal adds to the interest and Dawson can make it more interesting if he backs up his words and gives Hopkins an interesting fight.

Hopkins came into the Pascal fight with a mission and teach, the then champion a lesson. He played mind games with the title belts. There were the Pascal accusations of Hopkins using body enhancement drugs. Hopkins handled that the way a veteran does by outtalking his opponent. The discussion continued afterwards as Pascal, quietly, in social media circuits has tried to renew the topic and discussion. And Hopkins quietly stays away from the controversy and continues to defend his historic championship win as the oldest fighter to hold a major title.

“The bottom line is they are going to see a better, a more aggressive smart fighter in me when I defeat Chad Dawson,” he says. “I’m coming in there with an aggressive game but a smart game. If people think that the last two fights of my career were the old Bernard Hopkins from the Blue Horizon to Atlantic City days in the early 90’s then I’m saying they should watch this fight.”

And they will watch, pay-per-view or on their HBO televised cable package. Because Hopkins is a draw and has always been one. The disappointment was seeing the venue for this fight shifted from to the west coast because of a territorial dispute with Main Events, the New Jersey based promotional company that holds rights and fees of promoting fights at the Newark based Prudential Center. That took away a local fan base for Hopkins of nearby Philadelphia, and for Dawson up the road in New Haven Connecticut.

That was not an issue for Hopkins. His fan base will be there and they will watch. Because he continues to make boxing history with every fight, and another win just adds to a legacy that may never be matched, with the exception of the undefeated heavyweight streak of the late Rocky Marciano.

“I chose to continue to fight,” he says, “and defend what I worked so hard to get. So why not, get all the benefits of what I’ve been doing for 30 something years and then walk away when it’s time.” The question is when will Hopkins walk away? He does not know, and gets around the question when asked. Hopkins does not need the money, has the body of a 20-year old, and unless Dawson gets the win, the answer will never come.

It becomes a routine and just a different lecture when he meets the media. “In today’s world, where unfortunately most athletes either don’t stay as focused long enough after they get a taste of what we call success in life, or just run into the wrong match, the wrong person. So I’m going to have fun in the second half of my life.”

Now the question is, with Dawson on an agenda, will Hopkins have more fun next Saturday night?

Giradri Did His Best, But Not The Yanks

By Rich Mancuso

In the end New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi did his best. The team did not, in particular the heart of his lineup, Alex Rodriquez and Mark Teixeira combined 5-for-36 in the five game American League Division Series loss to the Detroit Tigers that concluded in the Bronx late Thursday night.

And for the Yankees, now it is time to go home and decisions for GM Brian Cashman to evaluate what has to be done. Because this Yankees team, though overcoming adversity with pitching and injuries, did not have enough to culminate in championship number 28 and without a championship in October the Yankees season is not an accomplishment.

“I think there was a lot of questions as we exited spring training and I think over time those questions get answered with ream legitimate contributors,” said a disappointed Cashman when the Yankees season abruptly ended. “This team got stronger and mentally tougher along the way and showed themselves as a formidable opponent for a world championship..”

But it was not enough for a world championship. Girardai did not expect this to be the outcome. You could see the disappointment as he addressed the media for a final time. It was not the pitching or his moves out of the bullpen after Ivan Nova had to be lifted early. It was the offense, a 200 million dollar team built to win and produce runs as they did during the season which led the American League in wins.

“Our guys played hard,” commented Girardi. They did. Robinson Cano, with 9 runs batted in during the series, was not responsible for a Yankees team that left 40 men left on base in the five games. Neither was Brett Gardner, or the veteran Jorge Posada who may have played his last game in Yankees pinstripes with five championship rings to his resume. CC Sabathia, who is probably going to opt out of a contract, was not the overpowering starter. And he did not play a role in a game one win that Nova finished because of the rain out last Friday evening.

“Tonight, if we were one at bat better we might win the game,” said Teixeira. “This one especially stings,” said Rodriguez. He made the final out of 2011, striking out, as he did so much this season. The Yankees have six more years of Rodriguez, a contract that appears to be money going down the drain. Rodriguez is hurting from knee and other ailments, though he will never admit to this being an impact as to why his numbers were not similar to the at bats he had in the last championship of 2009.

In the meantime, Girardi managed like it was the last game. He utilized every member of the pen, with the exception of Mariano Rivera, the other member of that Core Four who threw eight pitches in the five games, fewest in his 32 post season games. “That’s baseball,” said Rivera, as he is accustomed to saying in a quiet Yankees clubhouse.

Rivera will return next season. So will Curtis Granderson who had an MVP type season. Nick Swisher may be the other man out for 2012, with an option that may not be picked up. So Cashman does have work to do. And it means possibly looking for an ace on the mound, if Sabathia does not decide to stay. And even if he does like New York, Sabathia will be looking for more money and another team, maybe the Angels who can pay him.

Said Girardi, “Obviously this is a terrible day for us, but some days you just get beat.” It is an aging roster and Girardi did his best. And for the second time since 2007, in the old stadium and the new one, the Tigers Miguel Cabrera was on the field in the Bronx celebrating as his team eliminated the Yankees. The last time was 2007, when as a member of the Marlins’, Cabrera won a World Series in a deciding game.

Yes, this will be an interesting off season for Cashman and the Yankees. In the old days, the late George Steinbrenner would be speaking. Speculation about managerial and coaching changes would be talked about the next day. But not this time, because this was not the fault of Girardi or the coaching staff.

It is a Yankees roster that needs to be evaluated, especially Rodriguez and his .118 average in the series that got booed when he made the final out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Miguel Cotto Makes Another Change and Replaces Emanuel Steward As Money Could Have Been An Issue

By Rich Mancuso

There was suspicion almost two weeks ago when Emanuel Steward was not at the side of his fighter Migeul Cotto. At the press conference tour in New York City to announce the Cotto fight with Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd. Steward was only available for comment by phone. He was preparing his middleweight Andy Lee who defeated Brian Vera at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City this past Saturday.

In New York, Cotto seemed agitated, and it apparently had more to do than anticipating his redemption fight against Margarito.

Steward responded to questions about Cotto by phone later that day. He said Cotto was ready and they had a great relationship towards working their third fight together. He was evasive and defensive as to why he was not in New York. And, Saturday at ringside, after Lee won his fight, Steward was asked again about Cotto. He gave his opinion, though it was not clear when he would join Cotto for training camp.

The speculation, if there was any, came to a sudden halt Tuesday afternoon. Cotto made a change after two fights with Steward and Pedro Luis Diaz of Cuba will get him prepared for Margarito. While Steward claims he did not have a contract in his hand as of Saturday, Cotto sources are claiming it was a money issue which has also been confirmed by sources at Top Rank, promoters of Cotto and Margarito.

The money issue, according to sources is attributed to why they parted ways. It reportedly is a significant amount, substantially more from the contracts he had when training Cotto for title defenses against Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga. And there is a report, not confirmed, that Steward has not been paid in full for the Mayorga fight. And recall when Cotto dismissed his uncle, Evangalista, as his trainer, it had more to do than a difference of philosophy. That too was also attributed to differences with how much and who gets what.

So this latest turn of events obviously changes a complexion of the fight with Margarito. Steward had Cotto making the adjustments. He was a much different fighter against Foreman and Mayorga, and the bashing he took from Margarito in their first fight was in the distance. And then there was no speculation, later revealed from the outcome of the Margarito-Shane Mosley fight, that Margarito was using tainted hand wraps under his gloves that enabled Cotto to get stopped in the 11th round.

What is known now is that there have been obvious differences with Steward and Cotto, business related and nothing to do with adjustments and in ring strategy. Previous fighters under Steward have dismissed his services because of his busy schedule with HBO Boxing telecasts and a round the clock schedule of training other fighters. Chad Dawson left Steward and made a change for his upcoming fight with Bernard Hopkins next week for the light heavyweight title.

Did someone get to the ears of Cotto? That according to sources may have been in the works. Though a statement from Cotto, also seen on his web site said, “I met Pedro Luis as an amateur several years ago and had the opportunity to share time with him in several international competitions. I was instantly amazed as to the vast boxing technique and conditioning knowledge that he transmitted to his fighters.”

Cotto also mentioned strength and conditioning Coach Phil Landman, who has a good relationship with Pedro Luis. And there were reports, again not confirmed, that Steward had a difference of opinion with conditioning of Cotto before the fight with Foreman. “Together,” said Cotto, “a perfect fit to bring my best potential for my next fight in December and lead me to victory.”

Steward expressed surprise when he was informed. He stated everything was in place to begin training Cotto this weekend and he holds no grudge against Cotto or his management team that also includes attorney Gabriel Penagaricano. He will be at ringside calling the fight for HBO instead of being in Cotto’s corner which becomes an awkward situation

But this is business, and Cotto obviously wanted to once again make everything perfect. The Margarito fight has been on the agenda since that loss in the 2008 welterweight title fight. A perfect world for Cotto means having a trainer dedicated to him and meeting his financial terms. The relationship worked when Cotto won the junior middleweight title over Foreman at Yankee Stadium last year and in his first title defense against Mayorga earlier this year.

Cotto also said “I want to take this opportunity to express my wholehearted attitude to Emanuel Steward who I consider a friend and mentor. “Because of calendar conflicts and other matters, we were unable to work together for this next fight. His is one of the best trainers I have ever met in boxing. I will forever be appreciative for the two fights we worked together.” He added that the door will be left open to maybe working again in the future if timing and circumstances make that possible.

Though Freddie Roach, trainer of Manny Pacquiao and dozens of other fighters also has a demanding schedule, there is a difference. Steward is also employed by HBO, and there is always a discussion about HBO and Steward in the corner of a fighter being a conflict of interest. Cotto never addressed that situation and his only concern, that has been confirmed, was Steward giving him the appropriate time when it came to his two or three fight commitments for the year.

Or as sources close to Steward have come to hear, he believes Margarito will walk all over Cotto at the Garden. Cotto may have had knowledge of that comment, if it is true. However, Steward, as much as he has gained respect as a Hall of Fame trainer has been known to bad mouth fighters that have no longer utilized his services.

Regardless of the circumstances, Cotto remains confident. But adjusting again to a new trainer will be monitored and it could mean an advantage for Margarito.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It All Depends On The Yankees Pitching To Go Past The Tigers

By Rich Mancuso

If the Yankees are coming home to the Bronx Thursday night for a game 5 in this opening round of the American League Divisional Series against Detroit, it will be the pitching that them there. Because of a suspended game 1 Friday in the Bronx, the complexion of this series changed. And if New York is going to do it, their ace, CC Sabathia will be the one to get them to the ALCS next week.

And the heart of their batting order, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira had to produce better at the plate. Teixeira going into Game 3 Monday night was 1-for-7 and if numbers tell the story a .221 career hitter in Detroit, then his bat will remain silent. Detroit Tigers fans have been waiting since 2006 when their team last appeared in the playoffs. Yankees fans are always looking ahead, but this time they can’t depend on A.J. Burnett who was scheduled to pitch game 4, Tuesday evening at Comerica Park.

“You don’t want them to take a 2-1 lead and have them get a chance to close it out,” commented Teixeira Sunday in the Bronx after the Tigers made this an interesting series and a chance to go home and close the Yankees season. However, Sabathia , even if he is not at his best, knows that until the last pitch the Yankees are never facing elimination.

This is a Yankees team that is reliant. Adversity with pitching was a storyline of 2011. And if was not for the strong first half from the innings pitched by Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, and some good pitching in the second half of their division winning season, the Yankees may not have been where they are. “The road to the championship isn’t easy and it never is,” said Rodriguez, who may still be showing effects of a bad hip and sore thumb.

Sore excuses though never seem to hinder the Yankees. They go on and strive to reach the pinnacle of a season. Another World Series championship is in reach if they manage to get by the Tigers, with or without the offense coming from the bats of Teixeira and Rodriguez. It is October and they feel this is where they belong.

It was like this in 2006 when the Yankees and Tigers last met in the ALDS. The Tigers won game 2 and the Yankees would go home. Pitching then got the Tigers to move on, but then New York did not have a work horse in the name of CC Sabathia. He came to New York to win championships and got one in 2009. The mission is to get another ring, just like the five that three of his “Core Four” teammates have, that being Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

Saturday in the Bronx, in the game that resumed, it was evident how Robinson Cano and the rookie pitcher Ivan Nova have become the future of the Yankees. Posada and Jeter had a minimal role in giving their team a 1-0 series advantage. It was Nova who picked up for Sabathia from Friday night, and Cano driving in six runs, and Jeter having a quiet night. Rivera the best post season pitcher out of the bullpen was not needed to preserve the win.

Garcia made some good pitches Sunday to Tigers hitters Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera “They find a way to get a base hit,” he said. “They don’t really hit the ball good, but a base hit is a base hit,” he said. Sure it was a hit. Here and there that produces a run. And Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander, who went against Sabathia again Monday night, caught the attention of Jeter as well as Detroit closer Jose Valverde.

“You think that something good is going to happen good for us, but Valverde is hard enough to score a run off,” said Jeter about the Detroit closer who was perfect, 48 saves and none blown out of the pen this season. And it was Valverde who closed the Yankees down in the ninth inning Sunday, after a Nick Swisher home run made things a little more interesting.

Yes, this is a battle for the Yankees to advance against either the Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay in the ALCS. Before the season commenced in late March that sting of losing to Texas last October in the ALCS was still lingering in their thoughts. This time though, with rain in the Bronx that became a factor, it is two names in Detroit that have the potential of New York not seeing Texas again.

Verlander, the potential Cy Young Award winner and Valverde, the 2011 version of Rivera out of the pen can send the Yankees home to the Bronx, but not to chase another pennant and world championship.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Martinez KO’s Barker and Retains WBC Middleweight Diamond Title

By Rich Mancuso

Atlantic City – Sergio Martinez, the WBC Diamond Belt Middleweight champion retained his title with an 11th round stoppage over Darren Barker Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall In Atlantic City, a knockout not as stunning as the one he administered to Paul Williams in the first round at the same venue last November.

But the win was good enough to keep Martinez possibly among the elite as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the business. It was a right upper cut to the temple that put Barker on the mat that caused referee Eddie Cotton to call and end at 1:29 of the round in the scheduled 12-rounder.

Barker, (23-1, 14 K0’S) the relatively unknown and undefeated fighter from London England used his technical and defensive technique against Martinez. In the fourth round, Barker caught Martinez in an exchange that caused the champion to sustain a broken nose. With blood coming from his mouth, Martinez was losing some stamina but was able to withstand the defense and power from Barker.

Sensing the urgency that Martinez is at the pinnacle of his career, Lou DiBella, promoter of Martinez, and co-promoter of the HBO televised card, believed Barker was the appropriate opponent for the champion from Argentina. The win may propel Martinez to bigger pay days, though it is still undetermined if Martinez would remain at middleweight or take on the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto or any of the other known fighters at 147 or 154.

“Every challenge is a strong challenge,” commented Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KO’s) who had a contingent of fans at half empty Boardwalk Hall. “I knew it was going to be this type of fight. I planned for this,” he said. And it appeared Martinez was struggling in the first six rounds but got stronger as the fight progressed. “I knew I would get stronger as the fight went on. I kept throwing the right hand because I knew it was going to land. It landed more and more as the fight went on.”

When asked if he would be interested in taking on the winner of the upcoming light heavyweight fight with Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson, Martinez said, “I’m ready to fight anyone as long as we can come to a good deal for me and for my rival.”

Barker wanted to prove he belonged in the ring with Martinez. He was not a mandatory challenger and had he pulled off an upset, DIBella and Martinez may have not been talking about lucrative and future pay days. But DiBella believes Martinez deserves to be in the discussion towards getting a lucrative opportunity in the ring with Pacquiao or Cotto.

The co-feature of the HBO televised card saw middleweight Andy Lee avenge a loss to Brian Vera with a 10-round unanimous decision In their first fight on ESPN, in March of 2008 at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, Vera overcome an early barrage of punches but he managed to stop Lee in the seventh round.

A straight left from Lee (27-1-19 KO’s) put Vera down towards end of the second round and quickly earned him points. Lee, rated 2nd by the WBA and 6th by the WBC won his 12th straight fight. Vera (19-6, 12 KO’s) of Austin Texas would sustain a nasty cut in the next round above the left eyebrow.

“The plan was to hit him and pull out so I wasn’t exposed,” said Lee about his strategy. “I was trying to knock him out but it’s hard with him,” Lee added, “with Vera offense is his defense. He is not a counter puncher so I had to put the pressure on.

Oh the revenge win he said, “The importance of this win was immeasurable. If not for tonight I would have been haunted the rest of my life.”

In another undercard bout undefeated junior middleweight Steven Martinez of the Bronx New York, a national and three-time New York Golden Gloves champion, defeated Jay Krupp (14-5, 7 KO’s) when referee Steve Smoga stopped the bout at 0:38 of round five. Martinez (11-0, 9KO’s) trapped Krupp in the ropes and used a short right uppercut that sent his opponent to the canvas. For the last few weeks, Martinez was one of the lead sparring partners for Sergio Martinez.

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