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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Boxing

Anthony Joshua’s ring walk was a sight to behold

Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua’s fight against Alexander Povetkin on Saturday night in London was more than just a boxing match; it was a spectacle.

The fight marked Joshua’s debut on DAZN, the new sports streaming service, which did its best to put on a high-quality show for its viewers. They had Michael Buffer as the ring announcer, and they took things up a notch with an overwhelming ring walk from Joshua.

Joshua emerged from smoke and made his way through a packed, dark Wembley Stadium to the ring. He was accompanied by the music of rapper Nines.

Joshua bumped fists with many of the fans on his way to the ring.

The lengthy ring walk, which many viewers compared to wrestler The Undertaker, established that Joshua was the star of the show.

He won via 7th-round TKO to retain his four heavyweight championship belts and improve to 22-0. A fight against Deontay Wilder can’t come soon enough.

Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury sign contracts to fight Dec. 1

Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder is not getting his desired fight with Anthony Joshua, but he will be taking on a compelling opponent later this year.

A news blast was sent out on Friday to alert media members that Wilder and Tyson Fury had signed their contracts to fight on Dec. 1. The venue and ticket information has not yet been released, though Staples Center in Los Angeles appears to be a leading contender to host, along with Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The fight will be broadcast through Showtime pay-per-view. The fighters will embark on a three-stop media tour, going from London to New York to Los Angeles.

Wilder and Joshua is the fight boxing fans want to see, but talks stalled despite Wilder supposedly offering Joshua $50 million. Joshua is signed to Eddie Hearns’ promotional company, which is focused on fulfilling a new deal with streaming service newcomer DAZN.

Instead, Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) secured a fight with Fury. Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) is known for defeating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. His career was derailed by drug abuse and a PED violation charge, but he returned to the ring in 2018 and is looking to win his third fight of the year.

This will be Wilder’s toughest challenge yet. Though his record is impressive, he has been criticized for the lack of quality opponent he has faced.

The fight might not bring Wilder closer to facing Joshua, but it should tell fans more about how good he really is.

Oscar De La Hoya fires back at critics of Canelo Alvarez’s win

Oscar de la Hoya

Oscar De La Hoya sent out a press release on Monday to fire back at critics of Canelo Alvarez’s majority decision win over Gennady Golovkin on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

The first fight between the men in 2017 was ruled a draw even though many felt GGG had won the fight, largely because of a horrendous scorecard. Many felt the second fight was extremely close — and could have been ruled a draw — but Alvarez won the decision. In both cases, Alvarez seemed to get the benefit from the judges.

De La Hoya, who promotes Alvarez, addressed that and more in an “open letter” sent out to members of the media Monday. The contents of the entire letter have been published below. The most interesting part comes towards the bottom when Oscar responds to accusations of fight fixing.

Dear Fight Fans,

On the night of Saturday, September 15, fans were set to be treated to what sports should be all about: the two best athletes in a sport squaring off against each other with the winner earning the title of the best in the business. This kind of an event – where an individual can be called the best in any sport – is truly rare.

Not only did the fight itself deliver all that was promised, against all kinds of pressure, Canelo Alvarez gave the performance of his lifetime to secure the unified middleweight championship of the world.

Unfairly criticized for not fighting “Mexican” enough in the first fight, he kept Gennady Golovkin on his heels all night, taking the action to the “boogeyman of boxing,” walking him down and controlling the pace.

Repeatedly ravaged for two positive drug tests that showed minor traces of clenbuterol – a common occurrence in Mexico due to the contamination of beef across the country – Canelo submitted to more than 20 drug tests in the lead up to the fight and passed them all with flying colors.

Saddled with a judge’s card of a year ago that he had nothing to do with; the pressure of millions of fans watching; and what many were describing as a must-win to stay relevant, Canelo delivered a near-flawless fight.

And yet…

It wouldn’t be boxing if thousands of keyboard warriors weren’t talking (or tweeting) complete nonsense in the hours and days after Canelo began to cement his legacy as an all-time great fighter.

Many have told me to ignore the haters; that I’ll never win. But, while I know I won’t convince many of them, allowing them to even partly soil what was a certain Fight of the Year; a mega-event seen by millions of people; and a virtuoso performance by boxing’s marquis fighter would do a disservice to the sport I love.

So allow me to respond to a few of the more absurd comments:

Golden Boy paid the judges to fix the fight.
Though I don’t think this deserves response, here are the facts: The three judges were chosen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Given the result of the first fight, NSAC was under a lot of scrutiny to come up with the fairest group of judges possible. For the first time I know of, Golden Boy Promotions and Team GGG were even allowed to approve a pool of judges. They saw what everyone else did; a close, competitive fight and scored it exactly that way.

Golovkin landed more punches and therefore should have won the fight.
If landed punches were the difference between winning or losing a boxing match, we would have an incredibly different and less interesting sport. Clean punching, ring generalship, effective aggressiveness and defense are what the judges are looking for in determining the winner of a round. I’m obviously a promoter, but in the four areas that actually count in judging, I can’t find one where GGG was the victor.

Tom Loeffler’s statement that he doesn’t know if Golvokin can win a decision in Las Vegas.
Perhaps Tom is just looking to make GGG feel better, but regardless this is maybe the most disappointing comment, because it comes from someone who knows the sport. Of course, GGG can win a decision in Las Vegas. But 22,000 people aren’t going to crowd into the T-Mobile Arena to watch Golovkin fight and blast out the likes of Dominic Wade, Willie Monroe, Jr., or Vanes Martirosyan. He is going to need to fight a higher level of competition – and then fight better than that opponent – to earn a victory in the mecca of boxing.

Boxing is a wonderful sport that is coming back thanks to streaming technology and growing international interest. But, it is a sport that also faces competition, not only from the outside in the form of other, more-widely watched leagues, but from inside where the fractured nature of boxing has made it tougher and tougher for the best to face the best.

Just look at celebrity row to see how special Saturday night was. There, another best-in-sport athlete, Lebron James, joined by Will Smith, Mark Wahlberg and a huge group of other A-list celebrities to witness something special.

While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion (especially in boxing), let’s take a moment to appreciate what Canelo and GGG gave us on Saturday night and work towards doing it more often for the sake of the sport we all love so much.

De La Hoya really does not need to dignify cheating accusations with a response, but doing so does bring more attention to himself and his client by doing so. Maybe that’s what he wants since he’s a promoter.

Canelo, GGG’s trainer both want a third fight

Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Are fans ready for a third installment of Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin? The participants seem to be interested.

The second fight between Alvarez and GGG took place on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Alvarez won a majority decision, a year after the first fight was ruled a draw.

In a postfight interview with HBO, Alvarez expressed interest in a third fight if the fans want it.

Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, also showed interest in a third fight, saying the result in this one warrants it.

“We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around,” Sanchez said. “I had it close going into the 12th round. We had good judges who saw it from different angles – I can’t complain about the decision, but it’s close enough to warrant a third fight. Canelo fought a great fight, congratulations.”

Perhaps this was the way it was setting up to be all along. Both fights were close — especially the second fight — so many fans would probably be interested in seeing a third fight to see if things can be definitively decided once and for all.

Gennady Golovkin skips out on in-ring interview with HBO after loss

Gennady Golovkin GGG

Gennady Golovkin lost his fight against Canelo Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night by majority decision, and he was in no mood to stick around for a post-fight interview with HBO afterwards.

HBO, which broadcast the pay-per-view bout, interviewed Alvarez after judges awarded him the win.

“I showed my victory with facts. He was the one who was backing up. I feel satisfied because I gave a great fight. It was a clear victory,” Alvarez said through a translator.

After the interview, HBO cameras showed Golovkin walking into the locker room, noting that the had left the ring. Both fighters typically remain in the ring for the postfight interview as long as their health permits.

Media relations representatives who provided postfight quotes from Alvarez noted that they did not have any quotes from Golovkin at the time because he was getting stitches.

Golovkin has to be dissatisfied with the judging for the second straight fight. Many felt he won the first fight with Alvarez, but that was ruled a draw. The second fight was extremely close by all accounts, with many observers feeling it was either even or could have gone either way by a hair. Based on that thinking, Golovkin got a rough deal by coming away 0-1-1 over the two fights. He probably won’t be too happy to find out that HBO’s commentators seemed biased in favor of Alvarez.

Fans call out Max Kellerman for pro-Canelo Alvarez commentary

Max Kellerman

Max Kellerman and some of his fellow HBO commentators were noticeably pro-Canelo Alvarez on the broadcast for Saturday night’s fight between Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

Alvarez won a majority decision over Golovkin in the rematch between the men at T-Mobile Arena. One judge scored it as a draw 114-114 and the other two judges had it 115-113 in favor of Canelo.

Most people thought it was a close fight — which the scoring bears out — but those watching HBO’s coverage felt Kellerman’s commentary told a different story. Most of his comments focused on Alvarez dominating the fight, controlling the fight, throwing more punches and doing more damage. He was focused on pointing out all the body shots Alvarez was throwing, even when many were missing. His comments about Golovkin suggested that GGG looked “old” and was unable to do much damage to the Mexican fighter.

All of his commentary was countered by HBO scorer Harold Lederman, whose scoring had the fight more balanced or in favor of GGG.

The seeming bias was not lost on viewers.

Whether you agree with the final outcome or not, most can agree that the fight was much closer than Kellerman made it seem.

Canelo Alvarez lookalike steals the show at weigh-in for GGG fight

Canelo Alvarez

Las Vegas – A Canelo Alvarez lookalike fan stole the show at Friday’s weigh-in before Saturday’s fight between Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

A man dressed in all white who had a similar facial structure, skin tone, and manicured beard as Alvarez was seen walking around. He was mobbed for attention and posed for pictures. He was accompanied by a larger man and young girl, almost as if he was trying to make it seem like he was Canelo, traveling with a security guard and the Mexican fighter’s young daughter.

Oddly, the lookalike was wearing a hat representing Alvarez’s opponent for Saturday night’s fight, GGG. You can see a photo here.

Alvarez weighed in at 159.4 pounds, while Golovkin was 159.6 pounds. The two are set to meet on Saturday evening at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a rematch of last year’s fight, which was controversially ruled a draw. You can read our fight preview and prediction here.