The stars were in alignment and it must have please the the Boxing Gods as they converged on Fantasy Springs for a great night of boxing for the full house attendance. See for yourself in these photos.
With Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather approaching twilight of their respective careers sweet science is looking for new stars and new heroes. Could current middleweight champion from Kazakhstan, Gennady Golovkin become a cross over star? HBO executives bank on it. They have been featuring Golovkin’s fights on HBO since September of 2012 when he stopped rugged Gregorz Proksa in five rounds. Every fight since resulted in a knock out.
Now I enjoy watching the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins apply their craft in the ring, but I would prefer violence and a knock out every time. There is something mystical about a knock out when in the heat of battle a man can strike his adversary with such a force that renders him unable to stand upright. Everyone loves a knock out. People love Mike Tyson. They didn’t care what he said or what he did outside the ring, as long as he came inside with his black shorts and no socks and knocked somebody out. They didn’t mind paying hefty pay per view fees even when he knocked Mike Spinks out in the very first round. Everyone loves a knock out.
Gennady Gennadievich Golovkin, also known as GGG produces knock outs. His professional record consists of 30 wins, no defeats and 27 wins by a knock out. That’s ninety percent knock out ratio. In fact, last seventeen of Golovkin’s opponents did not get to hear the final bell. When I asked which was the toughest fight of his professional career, Gennady told me that it is yet to come. At least on paper it was Kassim Ouma who lasted ten rounds in 2011 in Panama. In the ring Ouma put up quite a fight and Gennady’s handsome face showed signs of it. It is amazing to think that with a record of 30 professional fights and being a champion since 2010 Golovkin has never fought for twelve rounds.
But it is not just knock outs, Golovkin is a good looking guy with a kind smile. He is a humble champion who was raised by a very traditional family in Kazakhstan. He treats everyone around him with respect and makes sure he attends to every one of his fans. He is learning English at a good pace so that he can communicate with American media. He has been groomed to be a star from an early age.” He is already a star,” said legendary HBO judge, Harold Lederman.
Legends about Golovkin’s prowess started to roll downhill from Big Bear Mountain five years ago, almost as soon as he moved here to train with Abel Sanchez. “ Did you hear what that Russian guy at Big Bear did to Chavez Jr. in sparring? How about Canelo?” those were questions posed to me or:” Did you hear Golovkin knocked down a light heavy in sparring?”
My initial impression was that Abel Sanchez was running a boot camp of former Soviet Union commandos. But when I first saw Gennady in the ring sparring I had a feeling that he might be special. In contrast to most power punchers Golovkin is very relaxed; he walks around the ring as if he owns it. Two other fighters who feel at home in the ring come to mind; Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins. These guys could go twenty rounds if necessary. That’s why Abel Sanchez is not worried about a fact that Golovkin has never fought a twelve round fight. Gennady knows how to not waste energy in the ring and could probably go as long as necessary. Golovkin also has a very good balance which allows him to be in the position to punch almost any time. His acute ring awareness along with extensive amateur background makes him a complete fighter.
Using all his skills along with debilitating power in his fists Golovkin gives fans what they want; knock outs. What’s not to like. Fans love him. His popularity has been growing. After developing a following on the East Coast Golovkin moves his show to Southern California. October 18th , middleweight unification bout with Mexican veteran, Marco Antonio Rubio at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California marks this as Golovkin’s debut performance in Los Angeles. HBO will televise.” It’s my first fight in California, said Golovkin about a month ago during a press conference to announce their showdown:”In the future, bigger fights may be at Staples Center, may be Forum.”
Future might be sooner than later, because two weeks prior to the fight Stub Hub Center is sold out. I heard from reliable source that Gennady had difficulties getting tickets for officials from Kazakhstan who wanted to fly out here for the fight. There are no tickets unless you are willing to use scalpers or what they are called today ticket brokers. Ironically, Stub Hub, ticket broker has two tickets for sale, front row, at a premium of $2202.00 a piece.
Fans will pack Stub Hub Center on October 18th expecting a knock out. Trainer, Abel Sanchez promised this fight will not go past five rounds. Can GGG deliver ? If so next stop will be at The Forum or Staples Center as Gennady suggested. Can Golovkin continue to sustain the hype that eventually will take him to a super stardom? Stay tuned.
No one in boxing today has a more fitting moniker than “The Crusher” Kovalev. Sweet science old adage to hit and not get hit is not his philosophy. The man goes into the ring with one thing on his mind – to crush you. If you don’t believe me just ask some of his latest victims like former champ Nathan Cleverly or Ismayl Sillah. Sergey “The Crusher” Kovalev didn’t just beat them up; he crushed them and their respective careers into pieces.
” This is boxing,” said Kovalev on Thursday during a media day at Big Bear, California designed to promote November 8th light heavyweight unification bout with Bernard Hopkins:” It’s not running, it’s not swimming, it’s fighting.” But what really stuck in my mind was what Sergey said on HBO prior to his fight with Blake Caparello. To paraphrase it Kovalev said that he sacrificed and worked really hard in preparation for the fight and now somebody is going to have to pay for it.
Please, do not be confused by his angelic smile, this is a threat of extreme violence which was promptly delivered on poor Blake Caparello in the second round of their recent encounter. Perhaps boxing saved society from yet another violent felon. Wait, just because a man has an edge doesn’t mean he has violent tendencies. Why do I say that? My first encounter with Kovalev’s actions in the ring convinced me of that.
It was about three years ago at the famed Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. In the second stanza Kovalev’s glancing body blow rendered his opponent Grover Young unconscious. The fight was stopped. Visibly upset Sergey was running around the ring and yelling obscenities in Russian and egging his opponent to get up and fight like a man.” This is not a prize fight. This guy will gladly fight for free,” I thought.
Crusher also talked to Ismayl Sillah in the ring, while administering a violent beat down. He begged former amateur stand out from Ukraine to get up after a knock down, so that he could kick his ass. Even the fight with Roman Simakov that took place in December of 2011 in Russia did not change Kovalev’s attitude and violence in the ring. This fight was not widely publicized by American media because it took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Kovalev brutalized his opponent for seven rounds until the fight was stopped and Simakov was taken out of the ring on the stretcher and taken to a hospital. Roman Simakov never regained consciousness and passed away a few days later. Kovalev did express his sincere remorse…
Tragedies like that usually adversely affect boxer’s careers. I can think of a few recent examples. Jesus Chavez was never the same after Lavender Johnson expired following their vicious battle. Robert’s cousin, Javier Garcia needed physiological counseling after his fatal six rounder with Jackson Bussell. Javier was never the same after that.
This has not been the case for Sergey Kovalev. He continues to crush his opponents like a wrecking ball on the construction site. Next in his way is a doctor of sweet science, an ageless wonder, Bernard Hopkins. Despite of his advanced age of 49, Hopkins opined that he eats guys like Kovalev for breakfast and he has history to back it up. Veteran Hopkins has tasted defeat a few times throughout his hall of fame career. He has been beat, but never beaten up, just out boxed or out pointed. Could Crusher be the first to do it? And if so, what is the strategy?
“I don’t have any strategy,” said Kovalev whose wife Natalia is expecting to have their first baby, any day now:” I just go into the fight. What will happen will happen. I am not scared to lose; I’m not scared to win. This is a sport. But Hopkins is a legend. He is the professor of boxing. He’s a very proud man as a boxer. He’s very smart, he’s very technical. It will be very difficult to fight him and for me it will be very big test. I’m ready for any test in my life.”
Their twelve round unification championship fight will be televised by HBO live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. History will be made, one way or another.
Tuesday afternoon, prior to the official weigh in, an original “Chin-checker” said he was going to do all his talking in the ring, but on Wednesday night Stevens seemed to have lost his gift of gab inside the squared circle. It was his opponent, Hassan N’ Dam who did all the talking and moving and fighting when they faced off in a twelve round middleweight eliminator at the Barker Center in Santa Monica, California. ESPN Friday Night Fights televised the event live that was well attended by Hollywood celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone and Dustin Hoffman, etc…
All three judges scored the contest in favor of Hassan N’Dam (116-111 twice and 119-108) who dominated the fight from start to finish. Following a first round bum rush by Stevens (27-5, 20KO’S), N’ Dam (31-1,18KO’S) took control of the fight using his athletic abilities as well as obvious height and reach advantages. Former champion from Cameron glided around a small ring as if it was a huge football field and unloaded crisp combinations following a stiff jab. His constant lateral movement prevented Stevens from setting up his feet to fire back. Befuddled for the first half of the fight Stevens finally had some success in rounds six and seven trapping his adversary on the ropes and unloading some heavy leather.
With renewed confidence Stevens continued to march forward in the eighth stanza when he ran into a crushing right hand that deposited him on the canvas. Curtis got up and fought back bravely producing exhilarating two way action and inspiring a fan to shout; “Ali Frazier!”Only Frazier did not show up. On the other hand N’ Dam continued to stick and move and dominate round after round. In fact, his confidence got so high that he started to rotate his right fist as if he could hit Stevens any time he wanted to and then treated fans to Ali shuffle in the corner of the ring.
Stevens went all out in the final round and even landed a telling right hand blow that had the crowd go “wow”, but it was too little too late. N’ Dam got away from the ropes, fired back a combination and danced his way to a victory. “I wanted to show people that I am a real middleweight contender and I did,” said N’Dam, 30:” Now I only want to watch the fight on October 8th and take on the winner.” Sam Soliman is scheduled to defend his IBF middleweight title against former champion, Jermain Taylor on October 8th, 2014. The winner of that fight is supposed to face Hassan N’ Dam who is anxious to win his title back.
Promoter Dan Goossen was a real mensch. Read on if you don’t know what that means.Mr. Goossen died early Monday morning at the age of sixty four- his family informed.Rest in peace Mr. Goossen. You will be missed.
I last attended Goossen promoted boxing card in August of this year at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Southern California. I was very surprised and a little bit concerned that I did not see larger than life Dan and his lovely wife Debbie sitting front row directing traffic. Frankly it felt like something was amiss.
Now I know why. Dan Goossen’s passing after a brief bout with liver cancer struck a chord in my heart, because I just buried my father last year after a long battle with stomach cancer.
My dad met Dan about seven years ago when I brought him to attend one of Goossen’s legendary press conferences. As always, Dan went all out hosting Margarito, Paul Williams’ presser at Burbank’s Arnie Morton’s Steakhouse. Noticing that my father was not part of the media Dan made sure Lev (they got on a first name basis right away) was comfortable and had enough to eat. That’s just the way Dan was. He was a family man and he took care of other people’s family. He always made sure my colleague, Francisco Salazar could bring his father to the fights and gave tickets to photographer Joe Miranda to bring his dad, Joe Sr.
I first met Dan Goossen about ten years ago. I was an intern for a local paper, Burbank Times and this was to be my very first interview. Publicist, Rachel Charles made the introductions. Even though I had all my questions prepared, I was as anxious as a novice – boxer entering the ring may be more; I was terrified. I took the elevator up to the bright Sherman Oaks office and Dan Goossen treated me as if I was a veteran reporter from Los Angeles Times; he took his time and answered all my questions and not once did he make me feel stupid or inadequate . That was just the way he was. The man did not demand respect, he commanded it.
On my way out I ran into former champion, Gabriel Ruelas who looked like he came by to visit his father for lunch. That’s just how Dan was. He was like a father figure to all of his fighters. Whether it was an exceptionally talented Michael Nunn or less than motivated Chris Arreola or on again off again, James Toney, they were all his children and he treated them all as such.
Speaking of Gabe Ruelas, I must say that you have not experienced a full extent of LA’s boxing flavor unless you saw Gabe or his brother fight at Goossen’s promoted club cards at Reseda Country Club or Olympic Auditorium. Dan was an old school promoter. He didn’t need a television network to put on a boxing show or to develop a real fighter. Those were the days.
Yes, Dan Goossen was a real old school promoter, but what I admired about him the most was his ability to live and have fun every single day. It’s as if he knew in advance that his life would be cut short and decided to enjoy it while he could. Dan Goossen knew how to have fun. He was a prankster. My last memory of him was when he wagered Don King that looser promoter of Arreola vs. Stiverne fight would cut his hair bold. Just thinking about Don King or even Dan Goossen for that matter, without hair brought tears to my eyes.
Yes, Mr. Dan Goossen was a real mensch, a Yiddish word for a man of distinction. Ina turbulent world of boxing he distinguished himself as a man of character, who will forever remain in the hearts of people he touched.
Sometimes being great at something could be a curse instead of grace. Legendary Dutch impressionist, Vincent Van Gogh died in obscurity in 1890. Today some of his paintings are considered priceless. It took regular folk sometime to understand and appreciate a true talent of exquisite Dutch painter.
Similar things happen in boxing. Fans never really appreciated the talent of Roy Jones Jr. because of the ease with which he dominated his opponents. Fans claimed that he picked and chose his foes, even though he dominated future hall of famers like James Toney and Bernard Hopkins. May be we will truly appreciate his greatness after he retires and gets inducted into boxing’s hall of fame.
Currently, former two time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, Guillermo Rigondeaux is suffering the same fate. Guillermo was one of the most decorated amateurs in history of sweet science. Aside from two Olympic gold medals Rigondeaux won two world amateur championships as well as seven Cuban national championships. After a failed attempt to defect Cuba in 2007, Guillermo finally made it to the land of the free in February of 2009.
I remember watching Guillermo spar at the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California during a brief stint he had with legendary trainer, Freddie Roach. I remember writing that Cuban southpaw was like a cross between Mayweather and Pacquiao, only his offence was more accurate than Pacman’s and his defense was more subtle than Floyds. I remember watching him knock out a solid featherweight contender in sparring with one crisp uppercut. Freddie Roach said that Guillermo is probably the greatest talent that he has ever seen.
Still fans have a hard time getting behind his talent because there is little competition during his fights; he dominates his opponents. Guillermo Rigondeaux epitomizes the essence of sweet science – to hit and not get hit. So, what’s the problem? The problem is he doesn’t get hit enough, he doesn’t take chances and he doesn’t face adversity. At least he hasn’t faced it so far.
Rigondeaux won his first legitimate world championship title in January of 2012. The Jackal knocked out Rico Ramos in the sixth stanza with a single body shot. Exciting, it was not. It was not competitive. Then Rigo dominated one of the top pound for pound fighters, Nonito Donaire in a unification bout in April, 2013. Fans were not happy it wasn’t a shootout. Networks were not happy. Guillermo felt disrespected by his promoter, Bob Arum for not being able to secure a meaningful fight following a signature win.
New promoter, Caibe promotions recently won a purse bid to secure Rigondeaux title defense against hard punching Chris Avalos from Southern California. But before they could even secure a date and a venue, camp Avalos turned down the fight in favor of other opportunities. Why? Isn’t it obvious?
Frustrations are mounting in camp Rigondeaux. At the age of thirty three his window of opportunity to shine seems to be slipping away. What can he do? Guillermo’s most formidable challenge up to date Nonito Donaire demonstrated that he did not want a rematch by moving up to featherweight and looking at other opportunities. Another worthy opponent, a fellow super bantamweight titlist, Leo Santa Cruz recently called out Rigondeaux on Showtime right after winning his title defense. But Guillermo noted that it was just a news ploy since he never heard from camp Santa Cruz.
May be Rigondeaux should follow Donaire and move up to featherweight for better opportunities. And if Nonito declines a rematch, there is a fellow two time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, Vasyl Lomachenko who holds one of the featherweight trinkets. That could be the fight for the ages.
The Greatest Muhammad Ali had to face Joe Frazier three times to prove his greatness. Could Guillermo Rigondeaux find his Frazier?