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November 15, 2018
November 15, 2018
Manny Pacquiao (R), from Cabangal, Phillipines, delivers a right to Mexican
Marco A. Barrera during the world featherweight bout in San Antonio,
November 15, 2003. Pacquiao defeated Barrera by a TKO in the 11th round.
REUTERS/Joe Mitchell    PP03110069

Reuters / Picture supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** RBBORH2003111500716.jpg

Action Images/Reuters/Joe Mitchell

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MANNY PACQUIAO first became known outside of the hardcore boxing fans with a devastating performance to stop Marco Antonio Barrera in the 11th round of their encounter on the 15th November 2003.

The Filipino was already a two weight world champion, but this time he was stepping up in weight to face Barrera for the lineal featherweight title, and the odds were stacked against the future Hall of Famer.

Barrera entered the fight on a good run of form, which included handing Naseem Hamed his only loss and gaining revenge over his hated rival Erik Morales, and the Mexican, who was also at the time a two weight world champion, was expected to have too much for Pacquiao.

The hype surrounding Pacquiao was continuing to grow and he had recently made the transition to fighting American shows, officially leaving his Asian base to pursue the big fights, and the Barrera fight, was as big as a test as Pacquiao could have hoped for.

They headlined the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, the site of many great battles including Julio Cesar Chavez against Pernell Whitaker, with HBO broadcasting and the crowd was pro-Barrera from the start. The Filipino was also making his first attempt at the weight and his first round in the big leagues couldn’t have gone much worse.

Pacquiao, who had been working with Freddie Roach since 2001, recovered well and dominated the fight, being too good and far too fast for the Mexican warrior.

Barrera, the betting favourite at 4-1, was blitzed and was down in the third, before surviving the next few rounds. Pacquiao was a whirlwind of punches, overwhelming Barrera, who was once again down in the 11th, which was to be the final round. He also had a point deducted in the 9th when he hit Pacquiao on the break.

Barrera was shell-shocked and had nowhere to turn, and despite his pride, he must have been grateful for his cornerman Rudy Perez stepping on the ring apron, which forced referee Laurence Cole to stop the fight. At the time of the stoppage, Manny was ahead on all three scorecards, 97-89 and 97-90 twice.

Both men’s storied careers continued following the fight, with Barrera looking to be on the slide, until he picked up a rejuvenating victory over Morales, their third clash, to become a three weight world champion.

He retired in 2011 and there is no doubt his place in the Hall of Fame is secure, when his ballot comes up. As for Pacquiao his career is nearing it’s glorious conclusion, after the huge disappointment of the Mayweather fight, he came back in April 2016 to decisively defeat old adversary Tim Bradley and then went on to dethrone Jessie Vargas for the WBO 147lb crown in November.

This was one of the greatest Pacquiao performance’s we have seen and HBO commentator, Larry Merchant, probably summed it up the best, when he said: “This is a fight that will shake up the boxing world”.

He was spot-on as Manny Pacquiao had arrived in the big leagues and would shake up the boxing world many more times over the coming years.

November 14, 2018
November 14, 2018
Muhammad Ali

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THE elegance of Muhammad Ali was at its most savage inside Houston’s Astrodome on November 14, 1966.

Although Cleveland Williams – a gifted slugger in decline – was not the most accomplished victim, it is Ali’s destruction of him that many experts regard as Muhammad’s finest hour (or rather, his finest seven minutes).

Ali, who before the bout spoke of retirement so he could focus his full attention on religion, still had plenty of critics. Some were angered by those outspoken religious beliefs, others felt he was a cruel and unsporting assassin (after he toyed with an injured Floyd Patterson the year before), but anyone who saw him set about Williams were united in their belief that Ali was, like him or not, a phenomenal fighter.

“The Big Cat” was slowing down at 33 but his frightening punching power remained. Some believed that Williams’ long levers could cause the champion some real problems. Then there was Cleveland’s spirit to consider. Two years before he had been shot through the abdomen with a .357 magnum bullet from a policeman’s revolver and he survived.

Ali dished out an assault to rival the shooting.

35,460 were in attendance to create the largest audience to watch an indoor prizefight. The fight was broadcast – either live or delayed – in 47 countries, and on closed circuit television at 125 locations throughout the USA. Everyone was treated to perhaps the most thrilling one-sided win of all-time.

“He’s a real good puncher,” said Ali about Williams afterwards. “But he had nothin’ to punch at.”

Ali danced from the start, picking Williams off with strong snapping jabs. Occasionally, the champion would halt his groove, stand in front of Williams, and shower bombs all over his rival. Williams tried to fire back, but Ali, perfecting his famous shuffle, bounced on his feet, appearing to float and punch simultaneously. It was intoxicating cruelty.

There were three knockdowns in the second, and another in the third. Williams could not see the punishment coming and hopelessness was etched all over his face each time he collapsed. After a minute had passed in the third round the referee, Harry Kessler, rescued a groggy Williams from further harm.

At the age of 24, and with his record at 27-0 (22), the champion looked unbeatable.

“The greatest Ali ever was as a fighter was against Williams,” said broadcaster Howard Cosell. “That night, he was the most devastating fighter who ever lived.”

Ali, five months away from his government-enforced three-year hiatus, would never be quite as devastating again.

Muhammad Ali was ranked No.2 in the Boxing News 100 Greatest Fighters of All-Time. Order your copy here

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November 14, 2018
November 14, 2018
Manny Pacquiao

Chris Cozzone/USA Today Sports

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ON November 14, 2009 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto met in a welterweight superfight. The Puerto Rican’s WBO welterweight title was on the line as Pacquiao – who began his professional career as a wiry flyweight – was aiming for a major title in a seventh weight class.

“HIS weaknesses are obvious to me,” said Cotto. “He lost to Erik Morales in their first fight, had a draw with Juan Manuel Marquez and then a razor-thin victory in the rematch. Pacquiao faced a very tired and aged Oscar De La Hoya. Then Ricky Hatton, an overrated fighter. Against me the story will be different. It will be war.”

COTTO retained that unerring determination from the moment the fight was signed, right up until the fight was over. He promised to win, “For the glory of Puerto Rico.”

PACQUIAO’S trainer, Freddie Roach, was extremely confident too. He offered (an unclaimed) bounty of $1,000 to any sparring partner who could drop Manny such was his desire to see his growing charge tested to the max in the build-up. “[At the start] I picked him [Pacquiao] to win by decision but the way he’s punching, his speed, we will knock this guy out. We will bust him up a little bit. We’re going to have a fast start and we’re not going to give Cotto any momentum.”

PROMOTER Bob Arum played the host’s card, and welcomed both fighters to the party. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen and I can see the fight going a lot of different ways and that’s why it’s going to be such a great fight.”

CERTAINLY, even before what arguably remains the most impressive performance of his career, Manny Pacquiao was the man of the moment. His face was everywhere in the USA. On billboards, on buses, live on the Jimmy Kimmel show and Time Magazine had to reproduce another 50,000 copies of their magazine that had Manny on the cover to cope with demand.

PACQUIAO, typically, grinned and giggled as he made his way into the ring. Cotto, meanwhile, was pure predator. His focus could be seen in the opening round, too, as he jabbed, and double jabbed. He moved intelligently and swiped accurately at every opening. 1-0, Cotto.

Manny Pacquiao

BUT the Filipino was preparing to take over. Cotto was brilliant in the early rounds, but Pacquiao was even better. In the third round, Cotto touched down from a powerful left. His body resisted the fall but his glove touched the canvas and a count was issued. The Puerto Rican fired back with expert punches, stinging Pacquiao, but the ferocity of the smaller man would not be denied.

AT the end of a glorious fourth, Cotto walked straight onto a savage left uppercut. It was testament to his fitness and guts that he survived the round but he was never the same again. His steep descent quickened, and it would be a brutal fall.

Manny Pacquiao

PACQUIAO administered a steady beating, rearranging Cotto’s face as he went. The warrior within Miguel made a fight of it until the eighth, and then it was all about survival. There were calls to stop it as blood gushed from his features but the Puerto Rican’s head trainer, Joe Santiago, adhered to his fighter’s pre-fight wishes and allowed the fight to continue. Eventually, and thankfully, the bout was stopped by the referee in the final round.

AFTER his success, jolly little Manny headed over to the Mandalay Bay Events Center and performed an eight-song concert. Some of the tracks he belted out were La Bamba and Sometimes When We Touch.

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November 13, 2018
November 13, 2018

Action Images/Reuters/Mike Stone

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MANNY PACQUIAO cemented his place alongside Floyd Mayweather as the best in boxing back in 2010, with an astonishing victory over Antonio Margarito for the WBC light-middleweight title.

WITH the lopsided victory over Margarito, Pacquiao could claim ‘world’ titles in eight weight classes, including lineal championships at light-welter and featherweight, and was seen as the only man that had a chance against Mayweather.

FOUR years later, we are still speaking about Pacquiao and Mayweather one day fighting, and the fight with Margarito in fact only came about as negotiations broke down again between the two stars and promoter Bob Arum saw the opportunity and a vacant title to contest.

GOING into the fight, some thought that Margarito’s marauding style and sheer size advantage would be too much for the dazzling Filipino, who had the fight made at a catchweight of 150lbs, for the title Sergio Martinez recently left behind.

PACQUIAO, who was stepping up from welterweight where he was the WBO champion, was fighting in the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the second time in 2010, after soundly dispatching Joshua Clottey on points in March.

BEFORE that he had stopped Miguel Cotto, following an incredible performance in 2009, a man that Margarito had plenty of history with. Margarito was perhaps coming towards the end of his career, but he could almost always guarantee a good performance and a close fight.

BUT sadly, this wasn’t the case against Pacquiao. The Filipino weighed in six pounds under the limit, whilst Margarito just made it, but on the night the size difference was a massive 17 pounds.

PACQUIAO was also giving a four-and-a-half inch height advantage to Margarito, who bulked up to 165lbs overnight, but he hammered the Mexican almost into submission, at one point famously asking referee Laurence Cole to stop the fight.

MARGARITO suffered three gruesome cuts and was rushed to hospital following the fight, which he lost widely on all three scorecards, 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110, where they also discovered that he had fractured his right orbital bone.

PACQUIAO didn’t pursue the stoppage against his vulnerable foe in the final round, remarking in his post-fight interview that “boxing is not for killing. I did not want to damage him permanently”.

UNFORTUNATELY Pacquiao did leave lasting damage, as Margarito nearly lost his licence due to the injuries to his right eye, and in the Mexican’s next fight, the same eye lost him his career, as the referee stopped his fight with Cotto due to some severe swelling.

PACQUIAO has gone on to guarantee himself a place in the Canastota Hall of Fame when he finally decides to hang up the gloves, however he is without a stoppage victory since his win over Cotto in 2009.

THIS is a so-called “weakness” that has been brought up by many of his most recent opponents, although his trainer Freddie Roach insists he can stop his next opponent Chris Algieri next week in Macau.

AS for Margarito, following his loss in the Cotto rematch and the controversy surrounding his hand wraps in the first fight, he will always be remembered as a cult hero and a three-time world champion at welterweight.

Manny Pacquiao

HE said following the fight: “I would like to congratulate Manny Pacquiao on his win and I hope the fans enjoyed our battle at the Cowboys Stadium. I gave it all I had, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the victory over the best fighter in the world today.”

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November 12, 2018
November 12, 2018

Action Images/Reuters/Steve Marcus

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IF Floyd Mayweather doesn’t want to fight Manny Pacquiao now, he never will. For nine rounds Juan Manuel Marquez bewitched and bewildered Pacquiao before the 38-year-old Mexican faded to let the Filipino win the last three and, as it turned out, a majority points decision. It let Pacquiao retain his WBO welterweight title and also keep alive hopes for a Manny-Floyd showdown next year.

Las Vegas resident Mayweather was absent but will surely have noticed how Marquez’s skill put him on the brink of a huge upset until he ran out of gas on November 12, 2011.

Yet just when it seemed Juan Manuel had achieved the improbable, succeeding at an advanced age and well north of his best weight, he found the judges against him. Robert Hoyle had it 114-114, as did I (six rounds apiece). Yet Dave Moretti favoured Pacquiao 115-113 and, unbelievably, Glenn Trowbridge saw the champion up 116-112.

Manny Pacquiao

Marquez won his sessions clearly and certainly came out the moral victor, if only for surpassing expectations. Many thought he would get hammered and sent into retirement, but his superb showing proved that there is no age limit on skill or strategy.

Hands high and backing off, but never running, the Mexican worked with single jabs and rights, occasionally opening up with a combination. Simple but effective tactics.

Pacquiao struggled to open up an opponent who refused to stand and trade, but instead stuck to his game plan. I can’t remember Manny missing so much, or getting frustrated the way he did between rounds seven and nine, when Marquez was dominant. Manny didn’t really have a consistent weapon, barring his power-packed left cross. He rarely landed jabs and didn’t go to the body much.

Yet the Filipino congressman insisted his victory was fair: “I thought I won clearly. He headbutted a lot.”

Queried about the angry booing (and some beer bottle-throwing) that greeted the decision, Manny pointed out that most of the sell-out 16,368 crowd were Marquez fans, adding, “I don’t blame them.”

He continued, “I blocked a lot of his punches. Marquez is a counter-puncher, that’s the way it is.”

But while Marquez’s trainer Nacho Beristain insisted his man had been robbed, Pacquiao’s counterpart Freddie Roach disagreed.

“It was Marquez’s style, it was a real close fight,” said Roach. “I wanted Manny to move more to his right, but he couldn’t.”

Marquez was disappointed but seemingly not surprised by the verdict, saying, “I won with the clearer punches. I landed a lot of them. You need to win fights with intelligence and we fought very intelligently.

“For me, the better judges are the audience [the ones who booed]. It was the second robbery [between us] and of the two fights, this was the worst.”

Arum, whose Top Rank promoted this show (televised on HBO pay-per-view), immediately started talking up a potential fourth fight between these two bitter rivals in May 2012, but who knows?

The Mexican’s build-up was overshadowed by the revelation that helping him move up from his natural lightweight division was Angel Hernandez, who under his real name Angel Heredia received a suspended prison sentence for his part in the BALCO scandal that saw drugs supplied to track and field athletes.Marquez denied any wrongdoing.

“I made many changes to my preparation,” he explained. “I trained hard for months and felt sensational in this fight.”

For a match made at a catchweight 144lbs, Pacquiao came in at 143 but looked much more solid than Marquez at 142.

They combined to put on a fight that held the interest throughout despite long gaps between significant punches being landed. It was a genuinely close contest, with – for me – Marquez winning rounds one, three and five against two, four and six for Pacquiao.

The fifth was a big session for the Mexican, who jolted the champion’s head upwards with a left uppercut and landed enough rights to make him frustrated. By the seventh Juan Manuel was marking up around the right eye, but he was about to enjoy his best spell of the fight, taking that session plus the eighth and ninth as well. His timing and distance were excellent and Manny seemed mesmerised, at times just following his challenger around. And when a big right nailed him in the ninth, Pacquiao did the unthinkable and actually backed off from the exchange first.

Proof that Pacquiao was getting caught far more than normal came when he bled from the lower lip in round eight and then in the 10th he was cut on the right eye. But he has heart and fitness, and just when he needed it most he used his strength to control the last three rounds as the tiring Marquez retreated into a shell of caution.

Pacquiao didn’t actually land that many scoring blows over the final nine minutes, but by going forwards and forcing Marquez to cover, he at least gave the impression of being in command, while the Mexican looked like a man trying just to survive.

An inspection of the judges’ cards would show that while Hoyle had Marquez ahead by a point going into the last, Moretti had not had the Mexican up since round seven (67-66) and Trowbridge had always had him behind since the very first round.

Referee was Tony Weeks and Pacquiao is now 54-3-2 (38), Marquez 52-6-1 (39). As for a fourth fight, who knows? If it does happen, Marquez will see it as an opportunity, Pacquiao as a chore.

November 12, 2018
November 12, 2018
Aaron Pryor

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THE favourite was curled up on the ropes in the midst of a terrible barrage when South African referee Stanley Christodoulou intervened. Alexis Arguello slumped to the canvas while an elated Aaron Pryor celebrated.

Has a big win ever meant as much to a fighter?

Pryor had been starved of blockbuster fights, failing to land matches with the likes of Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns. But Arguello, who had ambitions of his own in becoming a four-weight world champion – the first time that would have been achieved in history – stepped up to the plate.

And they fought like nothing else mattered on a balmy night in Florida.

They went back and forth like bitter rivals with Pryor wounding Arguello over the left eye in round six.

They battled excitingly in the trenches with Pryor busy to the body and attempting to swamp Alexis with his rapid combinations while Arguello, a big puncher, posed a constant threat with his long rights and left hooks.

The pace was breathtaking, the action the highest order.

Then, in round 14, Pryor broke through with every ounce of fury he could muster.

Arguello was backed onto the ropes and took several unanswered shots before Pryor’s hand was raised.

It was an emphatic climax to a super contest.

“Alexis met my challenge today,” said Pryor. “It was the best condition I have been in.”

“God bless my good friend Pryor,” replied Arguello. “He’s a good man. I wish him the best.”

But the drama did not end in the ring. After the 13th round, Pryor’s notorious trainer Panama Lewis was called asking members of the corner for a specific bottle to revive a seemingly flagging Pryor.

He wanted “the one I mixed” and it was passed to him.

A post-fight urine test was not conducted and many cried foul, that Pryor might have had some kind of ‘help’ to get the win.

Although Arguello’s face was a bloody mess by the end of the bout, he had “knocked Pryor sideways and brought huge roars from the crowd.”

The American was fuming and accepted a rematch to prove the naysayers wrong.

It seemed he had Arguello’s number after all, though, as he battered his rival into a 10th-round defeat in September 1983.

The two fighters became firm friends in retirement, with Pryor going to Nicaragua to support Arguello’s political aspirations.

They also broke bread at the International Boxing Hall of Fame, where both were rightfully inducted after they retired, but in 2009 Arguello died in mysterious circumstances from a gunshot to the heart. Some said it was suicide, other felt more sinister elements of Central American society were responsible.

Pryor was broken, for on that night in 1982 their hearts were fused as one in a furious tussle for supremacy over each other.

Pryor-Arguello was ranked No.9 in the Boxing News 100 Greatest Fights of All-Time. Order your copy here

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November 11, 2018
November 11, 2018

Action Images/Reuters

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ON November 11, 2000, Lennox Lewis defended his world heavyweight titles against top contender, and dangerous slugger, David Tua. The bout was set for Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

1. “I REALISE who I have in front of me,” said Lewis before the bout. “I realise Tua is powerful, but also that he hasn’t done anything to prepare for me. There is no one who can emulate me. When he steps into the ring he’ll say, ‘Whoa, what have I gotten myself into?”

2. TUA’S trainer, Ronnie Shields, thought differently: “Lewis has never fought anybody as strong as David. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lennox comes back to his corner and says, ‘This guy is a lot stronger than we’ve prepared for’.”

3. THE challenger was encouraged by Lewis’ loss to Oliver McCall, that came six years before, and the rickety but thrilling win over Shannon Briggs in 1998. “Lennox’s chin is very suspect,” said Tua. “Thank you for giving the ‘Tuaman’ this fight, but on November 11 I am going to punch out your lights.”

4. LEWIS countered: “Tua’s not going to be the man to make a name off beating me. He has been fighting guys who can’t take a punch. I’m concerned about his power but that’s his only asset. Unless I stick my chin out and allow him to hit it, he doesn’t have a chance to take me out. I won’t make it possible.

5. THE sold out crowd of 12,085 watched Lewis’ prophecies come true. Tua was outclassed, losing unanimously via scores of 119-109, 118-110, and 117-111. Boxing News felt that all three were generous to the challenger, and scored 120-109 in Lewis’ favour.

6. “I WAS doing all of the work in there,” said Lewis afterwards. “That’s what hype can do for a boxer when he doesn’t have the talent. Tua has a great chin, but he has to remember that you need more than a left hook.”

7. THE champion added: “My sparring partners, Egerton Marcus and Gerald Noble, gave me more trouble than Tua.”

8. TUA was booed by many for failing – bar a brief moment in round three – to land any solid punches. “Things didn’t work out for me,” he said. “I kept the faith and I hung in there. I did the best I could.”

9. ON The undercard, Clifford Etienne cruised to 19-0 and enhanced his status as an emerging contender when he decisioned Lawrence Clay-Bey over 10 rounds. The scores were 98-92, 99-91 and 97-93.

10. THE best fight of the night was a battle of veterans as John John Molina defeated Ben Tackie via split decision in a spirited light-welterweight 10-rounder.

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