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Category Archives: Articles by Igor Frank

How popular is GGG?

Photo by Ray Flores

Photo by Ray Flores

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.

 

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Could Kovalev be the first to crush Hopkins?

Photo by Gene Blevins

Photo by Gene Blevins

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.

 

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Farewell to Dan Goossen.

Photo by Ray Flores

Photo by Ray Flores

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.

 

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Greatness could be a curse for Guillermo Rigondeax.

Boxrec.com

Boxrec.com

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?

 
 

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N’Dam and Stevens collide in Santa Monica

By King Sports

By King Sports

Often time’s great fights take place at the least likely venues. And if the old adage “styles make fights” is true than middleweight title eliminator between Hassan N’Dam (30-1,18KO’S) and Curtis Stevens (27-4,20KO’S) is bound to be a nail bitter. They are to lock horns on October 1st, 2014 at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California. ESPN Friday Night Fights special Wednesday edition will televise this twelve round contest live.

Former WBO middleweight champion from France, N’Dam lost his title to Peter Quillin in New York two years ago. N’Dam claims he wasn’t one hundred percent on that night. However, he was well enough to pick himself up off the canvass six times to continue to fight an uphill battle.

“It was a very good fight,” commented Stevens, his October 1st opponent, during a telephone interview with ESPN:” He was boxing very good, but he was getting caught with shots as he was jumping in. Other than that he kept getting up, kept fighting. It was good that he kept getting up. He showed a heart of a true champion.”

Following a first loss of his professional career thirty years old N’Dam rebounded with three straight wins. The last one in April of this year was especially dominant win over a veteran from Colombia, Fulgencio Zuniga. It took place at the same venue, Barker Hanger in Santa Monica and marked his new promoter, Michael King’s entry into a world of sweet science. Hollywood mogul, King might be a novice boxing promoter, but he knows a thing or two about staging big events. Not wasting much time King won a purse bid for this title eliminator and got his fighter, N’Dam in line for another title shot, should he win this eliminator.

Hassan N’Dam is very confident of his chances against Brooklyn based Curtis Stevens. He said that Steven’s style is tailor made for him to shine and promised to give a boxing lesson to the original “Chin Checker”.

“He is talking a lot of junk on twitter,” said Stevens, 29:” Like he is going to give me a boxing lesson. I don’t believe in his right mind that he is going to stand there trying to get hit. I believe he is going to try to run as Andre Dirrell did when I fought Dirrell. But I believe there is only one Andre Dirrell. I believe he is just going to try to stay away as long as he can.”

Hard punching Stevenson lost his first shot at a middleweight title by a knock out to Gennady Golovkin last November. He has rebounded with two knock out victories this year and is ready for another shot at a championship belt.

“Don’t think too much,” said Stevens about the lesson he learned from the loss:” Just let my hands go. Golovkin fight, I was over thinking it, looking for a perfect shot instead of just letting my hands fly.”

Stevens, who punches like he has hammers in his boxing gloves instead of fists, has a definite plan for his October 1st encounter with N’Dam. “I am getting ready to let my hands go and take it to him,” said Stevens:” I just got to go in there and do what I do. I got to let my hands go and have fun. “Don’t miss it.

 
 

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Pacquiao has added incentive to fight Algieri

By Zimbio pictures

By Zimbio pictures

Considering legendary battles with the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito it is difficult to imagine that boxing’s super star Manny Pacquiao(56-5-2,38KO’S)could get excited about facing little known, Chris Algieri(20-0,8KO’S). They are to face off in the ring on November 22nd, 2014 at Cotai Arena of Venetian Resort in Macau, China. HBO PPV will televise 12 rounds, WBO welterweight championship contest.

“I want the Marquez fight,” admitted Pacman during a media day at the plush Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles:” But he refuses it.”

Let’s face it Chris Algieri is not a household name. In fact, even hardcore boxing fans did not know who Chris was until earlier this year when he out boxed Emanuel Taylor on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, nationally televised boxing show. That performance gave Algieri an opportunity to fight on HBO against Siberian Rocky, Ruslan Provodnikov. After being down twice in the first stanza and being badly cut a little later on in the fight, thirty year old Algieri showed his warrior spirit and out boxed the Russian slugger for the remainder of the fight. Judges awarded Algieri a split decision victory. Boxing gods awarded Chris Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.

It really is a very good Cinderella story and they couldn’t have found a better young man to deserve such a chance. Still, how does eight division world champion, Manny Pacquiao motivates himself for such a fight? How does he avoid a disaster like Mike Tyson experienced overlooking huge underdog, Buster Douglas in 1990?

“I always have motivation,” said Pacquiao, 35:” I don’t need to get motivation. I always have it. I always have the fire in my heart and in my mind.” Frankly, even the most devoted Pac maniacs have been skeptical about that fire in his heart. But here is something that would add a lot of fuel to that fire. Long anticipated and long overdue mega showdown between two boxing’s top dogs Mayweather and Pacquiao is being talked about once again.

In spite of it being a few years past its expiration date this fight could ignite fire not just inside Manny Pacquiao heart, but also inside millions of fans hearts. This match up still has the capacity to become the largest and the richest event in boxing history. The main reason this encounter is becoming more feasible than ever before is because both Floyd and Manny ran out of name opponents.

Promoter Bob Arum speculated that he could see the last two fights in Mayweather’s career to be against Pacquiao. Floyd, who just defeated Maidana in a rematch set up because Mayweather had no other viable opponents, did not deny the possibility of facing Pacman. “If Manny Pacquiao fight presents itself. Let’s make it happen,” said Mayweather, 37, right after defeating Maidana in the rematch:” I don’t know who I will fight in May, but I expect to fight. Manny needs to focus on the guy that’s in front of him. Once he gets past that task we’ll see what the future holds.”

The guy in front of Manny is Chris Algieri. He’s got quite a story. He is an underdog. Americans love the underdog. But does he have a chance against Pacquiao? Few experts believe that Chris is a live underdog and has a good chance at upsetting Pacman and the balance in the world of boxing. He does have youth on his side as well as significant physical advantages such as height and reach.

“I am not alarmed or worried about that,” said Pacquiao:” It’s not new for me to fight taller opponents. I know what I am doing. I know what I have to do in preparation for this fight.” Tune in November 22nd.

 
 

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Santa Cruz destroys Roman and calls out Rigondeaux

Photo by Mary Ann Lurie Owen

Photo by Mary Ann Lurie Owen

Las Vegas – Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1,16KO) didn’t need time to figure out his opponent, former sparring partner from Maywood Boxing Club, Manuel Roman (17-3-3,6KO). It only took him 235 seconds to land a fight ending right hand to the ear of Roman.  Leo earned $750,000 for WBC super bantamweight title defense which was a chief supporting bout to Mayweather Maidana rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. The fight was televised by Showtime PPV. Twenty six year old Santa Cruz seemed genuinely disappointed that it ended so early.

“I knew the right was going to land,” said Santa Cruz in a post fight interview with Jim Gray:” That’s what we practiced in the gym with my dad. He was saying with the right you are going to catch him. We practiced it and we got it. That’s what we do. We train hard in the gym, so we can come and make it easy over here.”

Young Mexican champion who currently resides in Rosemead, California certainly made it look easy in the ring. But he was expected to do that against an undersized and overmatched opponent. Little-big man’s popularity has been growing like a wildfire because of his relentless aggression inside the squared circle. But he needs a serious challenge to please discriminating boxing fans. Who would it be?

Santa Cruz immediately called out Guillermo Rigondeaux.” I know the fans, they want Guillermo Rigondeaux,” exclaimed Santa Cruz:” I am coming to get you. I am not scared to fight you Rigondeaux. If my manager and my promoter and you guys come to an agreement, I am here. I am not scared of nobody!”

If by chance you are not familiar with these guys, I can only describe this intriguing matchup as a Superbowl of boxing’s super bantamweight division where best offense meets the best defense. With the old adage saying styles make fights, these styles will make a dream showdown.

 
 

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