Lomachenko’s World Title Credentials to be put to the Test

Society’s obsession with credential-ism is mirrored by the boxing worlds various sanctioning bodies alphabet vacant and interim titles which dubiously bestow the title of ‘world champion’ on fighters. These paper championship belts are now woven into the business fabric of boxing. They are essentially bargaining chips which are used as leverage to sell fights to the fans. Another of their principal purposes is to secure up and coming boxer’s big fights and even bigger paydays.

Vasyl Lomachenko, the Ukrainian double Olympic and World Amateur Champion certainly has the credentials which legitimize the hype that surrounded his professional debut on the undercard of the Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez WBO Welterweight title fight at the Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, last Saturday night.

The 25 year old Ukrainian, a peerless amateur who is said to have compiled an astonishing record of 396-1, showed enough promise in his 1st professional performance- a 4th round knockout of the solid and seasoned Jose Ramirez (25-3, 15 KO’s)- to suggest he will soon become a World Champion in the senior ranks. He certainly has the skill, talent and technique to make it to the top. But, more importantly, he has the tremendous fortune of being promoted by Top Rank, at a time when Bob Arum badly needs a new star attraction to offset the loss in revenue that he will inevitably incur upon the impending retirements of his aging cash cows; Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Promotional expediency will see him propelled into a prizefight in his very next contest, where he will challenge the recently crowned featherweight champion, Orlando Salido, for his title as early January 2014. A shot at a legitimate world title mere months into his professional debut is premature to say the least. It is also a testament to how highly rated he is by Top Rank. Yet regardless of his obvious world class pedigree and talent, it represents a risky move by Bob Arum to pair his next potential star in the making up with such a battle hardened warrior as the big punching Mexican in only his 2nd fight in the pro ranks.

Salido, who incredibly turned pro at just 15, has been around the block many times before. At 32 years of age, he is now a veteran of the featherweight division after winning his 3rd title at 126lb in his 7 round destruction of Orlando Cruz, last Saturday on the same card Lomanchenko made his debut.

Lomanchenko is more of a cultured and classy boxer and although he does have a crowd pleasing style, he is not renowned for being an explosive knockout puncher. Despite going (6-0) in the International Boxing Association’s World Series of Boxing, which is closely aligned to the professional game in terms of the point scoring system and the absence of head guards, he did not knock any of his opponents out. So he will struggle to KO the typically resilient and durable Salido, who is renowned for his ability to absorb tremendous punishment. This stubborn punch resistance allied to his extensive experience and considerable punching power is a potent mix. Lomachenko will have to use all of his craft and tactical nous not to get dragged into a war by the wily veteran.

On the other hand, perhaps Salido’s brawling, ‘hit and get hit’ style could be the perfect platform for Lomachenko to take centre stage and put on a boxing exhibition that would have the purists purring in delight. It would also give Lomachenko a valid Championship credential in only his 2nd professional contest that could be used as currency to secure the Ukrainian amateur legend lavishly prosperous prizefights in 2014 and beyond.

Luckily for Lomachenko, the obligation of Bob Arum to unearth a new star and his impeccable amateur credentials has allowed him to forego the familiar follow route taken by fellow up and coming boxers who must 1st fight for alphabet interim and vacant titles before finally earning the right to prove their credentials in proper prizefights.

Read more at http://www.boxingnews24.com/2013/10/lomachenkos-world-title-credentials-to-be-put-to-the-test/#kkRlHpDH02Vy6M7C.99


Timothy Bradley- The Pupil that took the Teacher to School

Placing the word intelligence in the context of hand to hand combat fighting seems almost like an oxy-moron. But anyone who watched the Timothy Bradley vs Juan Manuel Marquez WBO Welterweight title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday night will appreciate how important a factor ring intellect played in Bradley’s career defining victory against the Mexican legend.

His performance was the polar opposite to his display in his last outing against Russian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov, which ironically endeared him to the boxing public despite it becoming dangerously close to being the death knell for his career. That night Bradley allowed his heart to rule his head and nearly paid the ultimate price as he was close to being knocked out on numerous occasions. There was no such repeat on Saturday night, however, as Bradley went back to basics and relied on his boxing brain in order to out-think Marquez, and put on a boxing master class that frustrated and befuddled the 40 year old Mexican- who is often referred to as one of the most intelligent technicians the sport has ever seen.

The polished and highly accomplished nature of the Desert Storms performance diminished the contest as a spectacle. Yet from the point of view of the purist, the way he was able to drain the drama out proceedings was majestic. Truth be told, the level of composure and confidence he showed made it a pretty comfortable victory for Bradley in the end. He was calmness personified. It really was a case of the young thoroughbred showing the old dog all of his tricks. And the sight of a rather frustrated looking Marquez trudging back to his corner disconsolately at the end each round was a true testament of Bradley’s ring intelligence. The contrast in the body language of both fighters alone was an accurate indicator of the way the fight was going. Without even watching the action, you probably could have scored the bout by way of a cursory glance at each fighter as they approached their corners at the end of the rounds. Marquez just couldn’t find his range and land any telling blows that could change the trajectory of the fight. But this was largely due to the brilliance of Bradley’s game plan, which frustrated and disheartened Marquez tremendously.

Put simply, the pupil took the teacher to school on Saturday night, and as Bradley stated succinctly he gave a fellow professor of the sweet science a “boxing lesson”.

After his latest graduation, Timothy Bradley, such an ardent student of the sweet science, will have to quickly return to his studies to prepare for the prospect of finishing school with the great Floyd Mayweather Jnr in 2014.




Boxing is a Fickle Mistress

The Sport of Boxing is a typically tempestuous arena where every fighter, no matter their standing, is only ever one defeat away from disaster. Two consecutive losses however, is perceived by the boxing public to be a full blown crisis, a fact Miguel Cotto will attest to.

 The Puerto Rican, despite being a former 3 weight World Champion and one of the best loved fighters in the game, faced a barrage of hysterical criticism from all corners of the boxing world after he was beaten by ‘unknown’ Austin Trout on December 2012.

Austin Trout wasn’t a household name. So he must have been a nobody, right? Wrong. He was a legitimate world class challenger, the victor in all 25 of his professional fights. Still, it didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that a mere 7 months prior to his meeting with Trout, Cotto gave the great Floyd Mayweather Jnr one of the most ever competitive fights of his unblemished career. Cotto was finished. A man, many commented, who was finally paying the price of one punishing punch up too many in a career spent mixing it with the elite from the 140-154lb divisions.

Sadly, we live in a society that seems to build someone up to be successful simply so we can laugh in the face of their failure when they fall from grace.

As I’ve become more of a ‘hardcore’ fan, I’ve discovered that the boxing public has a particular fondness for the fatalistic.

But the same fickle cynics who reached the consensus that a 32 year old, Miguel Cotto was a washed up has-been who grew old overnight after his defeat to Austin Trout have now once again shown their capriciousness by declaring that he will now conquer the world after his savage 3rd round stoppage of perennial contender, Delvin Rodriguez. If Cotto is to once again tread the path of greatness, he will doubtlessly have to overcome far more formidable opponents along the way than the 33 year old, Dominican Republican, with 7 career losses on his 38 fight resume.

But after such a comprehensive and confidence inducing comeback performance, expect the rejuvenated Cotto to now be especially emboldened and eager to get back to the business end of boxing against the top fighters from 154-160lb.

His form, massive fan base and the fact that he is not tied exclusively to any promotional entity means that he is in the enviable -some would say perfect- position to pursue any opponent he sees fit. He is also a massive attraction to any fighter looking to claim a major scalp and enhance their own reputation, whilst making a tonne of money for their troubles.

A rematch for Mayweather’s titles at 154lb will definitely be on his radar. So too will a fight with Mexican sensation Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. However, I think that Golden Boy Promotions, at least in the immediate future, will approach a Cotto contest with tentative trepidation- they will not want risk Canelo losing two consecutive fights and suffering the same hysteria that befell his Puerto Rican counterpart. Expect them to protect their investment and ease him in gently after his disheartening defeat to Floyd Mayweather. Still, I think this is a fight that should come to fruition, just not for another 12-18months.

Addressing Larry Merchant in his immediate post fight interview, Cotto expressed his desire to try and make history and become the 1st Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in 4 different weight classes. The logical choice at that weight would be Sergio Martinez as the fight would generate a similar number as the 1.25 and 1 million P-P-V buys his bouts with other Box Office stars, Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather did. Both those fights ended in defeats, but I think Cotto could conceivably claim Martinez’ title and cement his legacy as a future Hall of Famer in becoming the most decorated boxer in his homelands rich fighting history and tradition. The aging and injury prone Martinez has his own future and legacy to think about. Hence, the opportunity for a multi-million pound payday against one of the sport’s most eminent fighters of the last decade could prove irresistible to the 40 year old Argentine.

Whether he won or lost any potential bout with Martinez, I doubt it would have much impact on his chances of securing a fight with any titleholder in the light middleweight division. This is why I would pick the prospect of a pulsating prizefight with fans favourite Martinez early next year, followed by another epic with fellow hall of fame foe, the great Floyd Mayweather Jnr or Canelo this time next year.

Boxing has been a particularly cruel and fickle mistress to Miguel the last year. But we should all know by now that Cotto is the Captain of a ship that refuses to sink. It is this resilience that has seen him once again gain control and cruise his way back into contention for some of the biggest Championship fights the sport has to offer.

I hope the cynics are feeling suitably sea-sick

Read more at http://www.boxingnews24.com/2013/10/boxing-is-a-fickle-mistress/#8sYQMOzcz5SOY5ej.99

Wars of Attrition in the Ring Overshadow Proxy Promotional Battle

Up until 4 years ago, I had enjoyed a mild flirtation with boxing, drunkenly assuming the status of casual fan every time the local Casino’s were showing the big P-P-V events in my native Glasgow, Scotland. However, upon being mesmerised by Manny Pacquaio’s reign of terror through the weight classes I was slowly, but surely, being seduced by the sweet science. The tipping point came when I stumbled upon the Philipino’s fighters 1st battle with the Legendary Mexican, Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales on You Tube.

From the point of seeing those two proud warriors contest a hellacious 12 round war in Las Vegas I knew boxing would become an intense, passionate f**k story on the side which would threaten everything between me and my 1st love, soccer.

From that moment to the present day, my love affair with the sport continues grow, as I have vociferously consumed classic fights (past and present) and immersed myself in all things boxing from documentaries to relevant fight literature, all in a bid to educate myself in the history, and improve my knowledge and understanding of this brutal, but beautiful sport.

Nonetheless, I am still a total novice trying to hone my craft as a sports writer. But one thing I do know is that 2013 has easily been the most exciting year since I became a proper boxing fan.

And one of the factors that have contributed to such a fascinating year in boxing is the Cold War that has been contested by rival promotional companies Bob Arum’s Top Rank and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Unfortunately, fighters from both stables will probably never get the chance to face off against each other because Top Ranks affiliation to HBO and Golden Boys exclusive deal with Showtime, as well as the bad blood, which runs deep, between Arum and De La Hoya. This is a crying shame for boxing. But the by-product of this promotional war is that the promoters are acting with a new found, unfamiliar expediency when negotiating super fights.

The cautious conservatism that often characterizes promoter’s choices, especially in transactions with their biggest investments, has been replaced, to a certain extent, with an approach more akin to that of the Kamikaze Bankers pre-economic collapse.

I mean do you seriously believe that Golden Boy really wants to allow Adrien Broner to put his undefeated record on the line against the superhumanly powerful and free-punching Marcos Maidana, a man who continues his transformation from crude brawler to accomplished boxer-puncher under the tutelage of 2012 Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia?

Of course they don’t. But they are starting to sweat under the spotlight, much in the same way Bob Arum is feeling the heat, hence his decision to allow Manny Pacquaio to go to war with Brandan Rios, the young brawler with a heart of a Lion and chin of a Heavyweight, so soon after being knocked unconscious by Marquez. And although Bob Arum currently has a brilliant stable of Welterweight-ish fighters, he does not exactly possess an embarrassment of riches in the body count. It is more of tale of quality over quantity, through necessity rather than choice, I may add.

His lack of numbers, is compounded by the impending retirements of Manny Pacquaio and Marquez who, even if they emerged victorious in their next contests, against Rio’s and Bradley respectively, will probably last no longer than one more calendar year in the sport. Irrespective of how astute he is, his aura of self assurance may soon be imprisoned by uncertainty as he contemplates life without his two biggest cash cows. The ramifications of their retirement must weigh heavy on Arums, and his accountants, mind in times of solace and reflection.

But whilst his hand may have indeed by forced to an extent to pair-up his prime A-list fighters with his brawling B-listers, such as Brandan Rios and Ruslan Provodnikov, in a sort of unofficial Welterweight tournament, it may transpire that Arum has a trump card.

Hypothetically, if Marquez beats Bradley and Manny Pacquaio can shake off the cobwebs and regain his form against the belligerent Brandan Rio’s then  the prospect of a 5th installment of the epic rivalry of Pacquaio and Marquez falls nicely on Arums lap. The fact that the bout would be valid for a legitimate Welterweight title is the cherry atop of an already pretty appealing cake. Certainly one that the fight fraternity would be eager to feast on once again.

Furthermore, the tone which has been set in 2013 looks set to continue into 2014 as the remaining super fights in this calendar year, involving Golden Boy Promotions, chiefly; Mayweather vs Canelo, Danny Garcia vs Matthysse and Marcos Maidana vs Adrien Broner means that there will be some fascinating Prizefights in the forthcoming year between the winners and losers of these bouts. The same can be said of Top Ranks remaining cards, most notably; Manny Pacquaio vs Brandan Rios, JM Manuel Marquez vs Timothy Bradley and Mike Alvarado vs Ruslan Provodnikov.

For Prizefighting in particular, the potential rewards of winning the ‘Promotional Cold War’ plaster over the pitfalls of risk, and that is why logic and reason are being replaced with an almost reckless adventure by Top Rank and Golden Boy promotions who have subscribed to a ‘Win at All Costs’ mentality.

Thankfully though, it will be the wars of attrition inside the Ring which will continue to capture the imagination as opposed to the proxy battle contested between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.


So many Fighters so Little Time for Floyd Mayweather Jnr

Ever since it was announced that Floyd Mayweather Jr. sealed a lucrative 6 fight contract with Showtime and its parent network, CBS, all the cream fighters from the current vintage crop of Welterweights have been falling over themselves to land one of the Golden tickets left to face the former multi-weight World Champion, and current holder of the WBC welterweight and WBA light middleweight straps.

And although there have been a few long term hiatus’ and a false dawn in the form of a brief retirement from the sport in 2008, Floyd Mayweather Jnr will be 38 years old upon the conclusion of the 30 month contract he signed in February. So this series of fights will almost certainly be followed by a full stop to mark the end of a career punctuated by greatness.

The impending retirement of the self confessed ‘Face of Boxing’ represents a nightmare scenario for the sport. But it has made all the top Ring technicians acutely conscious that they cannot let procrastination steal their time if they want to live the dream with Money Mayweather. It seems the clamour to get into contention for a fight with Mayweather has sparked an epidemic of ‘Fight of the Year’ candidates in the 140-147lb divisions in 2013.

Lucas Matthysse is the latest man who will aim to use his fists of destruction as weapons of seduction when he faces current WBA/WBC light welterweight champion Danny Garcia on September 14th on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight. He knows a knockout victory and the capture of Garcia’s titles will be the perfect honey trap to lure the watching Mayweather.

The ‘Machine’ one of hottest properties in the sport right now told ESPN Deportes,

“This is a very important fight. It will open doors for bigger fights. Hopefully, I can fight Mayweather”.

These same sentiments have been echoed by a long list of young, hungry warriors such as Danny Garcia, Marco’s Maidana and Amir Khan, to name but a few. They must know there are no margins for error in the pursuit of Floyd Mayweather. And if these aforementioned fighters dare treat their forthcoming contests as mere dress rehearsals for their big day then the prospect of a dream marriage with Mayweather will be ruined by an opponent who has no intentions of being the bridesmaid.

But a scalp like Mayweather would put them firmly onto the beaten track of boxing super stardom.

So, all the contenders, pretenders and current Champions from 140-154lb who have thrown their hats into the ring in hope that it earns them a shot at Mayweathers much shinier crown, must prove beyond doubt that they deserve to be one of the chosen ones’ by destroying their upcoming opponents so Mayweather is seduced enough to set up a P-P-V date.

Regardless of who those opponents might be we can be rest assured that the Welterweight Divisions will be a gift that keeps giving to boxing at least until Mayweather’s final four opponents have been confirmed by way of cast iron guarantee.

This can only be good news for fights fans that have been enthralled by this brutal but beautiful year in boxing.

Burns Must Abandon Rematch with Beltran

The prediction from Eddie Hearn, Matchroom supremo and promoter of Ricky Burns, that the World Champion ‘may never box again’ after suffering a broken jaw in his highly controversial draw over Mexican Raymundo Beltran seems to have been premature. It now appears, at least according to the comments made to the BBC, by his manager Alex Morrison, that the Scot, will “definitely fight again, one million per cent.”

This is obviously fantastic news for the Lion hearted fighter and his fervent fan following. What may not be so great however, are the early reports that Burns, and his camp, seem on intent on giving Beltran a rematch in his very next fight after he recovers from the serious jaw injury. The olive branch seemingly being thrown to Beltran is, on the one hand, due to the tremendous Sportsmanship of Burns, and on the other to the embarrassment of his camp, who clearly feel there is credence in the conviction that the challenger was indeed ‘robbed’ of a World Championship, by stating that a rematch is the ‘moral’ thing to do. This is of course perfectly true, as even the most partisan of observers would openly acknowledge that Beltran deserved to go home as a Champion of the World after turning in such a confident and composed performance in what was undoubtedly the biggest fight, and night, of his life.

For Beltran’s hard work and sacrifice to end in tears rather than the triumph his performance richly deserved is tantamount to a tale of Shakespearean tragedy. And as much as the cruel nature of the conclusion obviously deeply affected the heartbroken Beltran, it is clear that he has been the doomed protagonist in this kind of narrative many times before in his career. The look of utter desolation etched upon the proud warriors face when he addressed the TV cameras in his dressing room after the bout was enough to bring a tear to a glass eye.

And this is why, in a sport where integrity, equality and fairness are almost always an afterthought of everyone intimately involved apart from, of course, the fighters, the compassion shown to the plight of Beltran by Burn’s inner circle has helped restore faith in a sport, which just cannot rid itself of the crooked and corrupt ruling class that continue to taint its reputation with impunity.

But, the chorus of approval from fans who also agree that a rematch is the ‘moral’ course of action to take will doubtless be balanced by the manic chants from the majority of boxing observers who will say Burn’s is far too brave for his own good and should never again risk putting himself within punching distance of the classy veteran Beltran.

So for some, the decision to grant Beltran another shot at his title would be an act of heroism

For others, it would simply be career suicide.

Personally, I would subscribe to the latter school of thought as Beltran was the clear winner of the fight, and although the broken jaw, said to have been sustained as early as the 2nd round, clearly contributed to Burns’ brave but bashful performance, it was not the decisive factor. Realistically, Burns lacks the power to really gain the respect of the elite Lightweights, who will be content to ‘walk through’ his shots so they can dish out damage of their own- exactly the way Beltran did for the most of the fight last Saturday night.

So if Burns- who is so, so lucky still to be WBO Lightweight Champion- wants to avoid a similar tale of tragedy to the one experienced by his Mexican opponent, he should abandon the romantic notion of facing Beltran again and instead face fighters limited enough to keep his fairytale alive.


Burns vs Beltran: The Rematch

I recently submitted an article about how Ricky Burns must ‘Abandon a Rematch with Beltran’ on the premise that Beltran, although thoroughly deserving of a rematch, was just too dangerous of an opponent for Burns to once again risk his title against, especially after suffering a broken jaw in their 1st clash.

This conviction attracted a lot of consternation in the comments from readers who vented their ‘rage’ and insisted that I was talking, as one reader put it succinctly, ‘a lot bollocks!’

He may have had a point.

But, as a writer, I am duty bound to raise issues of contention and present arguments that may result in a backlash from readers due to the controversial content. My piece the other day was a classic case of playing Devil’s Advocate.

And rather than trying to provoke and anger people (I’m not Gilfoid folks), I was simply trying to gauge the opinions and emotions of fight fans in the aftermath of the hotly disputed decision draw, which allowed Burns to miraculously hold onto his title, in spite of Beltran being the clear winner in the eyes of anyone, including myself, who was inside the SECC arena last Saturday.

I make no apologies for the article. In fact I don’t give f**k. And judging by the appallingly awful way some people tried- and failed- to articulate their counter-argument in the comments section, I really shouldn’t give a f**k either.

Instead, I will once again stoke the fire and risk the ire of some more illiterate loon ball’s by presenting this article in an entirely different angle, one which I hope will provoke discussion among the discerning fight fans of Boxing News 24, with regards to the potential outcome of a rematch between Ricky Burns and Raymundo Beltran.

Raymundo was robbed in Glasgow, pure and simple.

So in order to avoid another miscarriage of justice, the 32 year old Mexican stated,

“I fight anybody but I want to fight in a fair place, I want to fight in America. Let’s do it in America, I think I deserve a chance.”

He certainly does deserve another chance. Fortunately for Beltran, Burns and his camp are avowed in their acknowledgement that he should have been awarded the winner of the 1st clash. On the other hand, they are just as stoic when stating any rematch will go ahead on their terms, and their terms only. Well you can’t start dishing out World Titles on sentiment, can you?

Alex Morrison, the manager of Ricky Burns, told the BBC, “Ricky wants to fight him again here in Scotland in front of another packed crowd.

“But it will only take place here in Scotland.”

“If Beltran wants a rematch, he’ll have to come here again.”

So Beltran will have to sail against the tide all the way across the Atlantic once more to try and gain what really should rightfully be his- the WBO Lightweight Championship.

But next time, I suspect it won’t only be the judge’s who will openly try and undermine his tilt at the World Title. No, this time he will face a fresh Ricky Burns for the whole fight. Not the inhibited, handicapped fighter who was unable to initiate fire due to a broken jaw he suffered in second round.

Beltran was dominant throughout the fight, and was consistently the aggressor but his punches were seldom able to penetrate the excellent guard of the Champion. Whereas the ‘Rickster’, when fighting from long range, was able to pick Beltran off at will with his jab, which on occasion he used effectively to set up power punch combinations. His major problem was that Beltran, sensing that his opponents attacking prowess was sufficiently blunted due to the injury, simply stalked him and bullied him onto the ropes time and again.

Yet despite Burns being in survival mode for the majority of the fight Beltran was still unable to finish his man. I propose his composed performance was homage to Burns ability to sustain a barrage of punishment but still not buckle, and that the trepidation he showed when attacking was out of fear of punching himself out the way Jose Gonsalez did in Burns last bout.

Did Beltran learn too much about Burns coming into the fight? Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But he has certainly learned not to place his fate in the hands of the judges next time.

And for this reason, I expect an emboldened Beltran and a back to full health Ricky Burns to set the heather alight in their World Title rematch.